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Comments

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The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

Cyberdyne Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (200 comments)

I say try because in a battle between a jet engine with the power to push 400 tons of steel into the sky VS a drone I'm going to put my money on the jet engine lasting long enough for them to turn around and land again.

You might want to rethink that after being reminded of jet airliners being brought down by birds - not an ounce of metallic content, just a few pounds of meat and soft lightweight bones - or the 747 which almost crashed after all four engines failed from ingesting some ash. (Fortunately, they happened to be relatively near an airport and were high enough to glide for over a hundred miles, which bought them just enough time to restart an engine while they had been preparing to ditch in the ocean, buying them enough time to limp to the nearest runway - although all four engines were damaged beyond repair.)

For that matter, the French Concorde which crashed in 2000 was destroyed by a single thin strip of metal, 17 inches long and just over an inch wide, less than four ounces: essentially, a slightly larger than average metal ruler. It didn't even go into an engine, it just burst a tire - violently enough that the ten pound lump of rubber ruptured the wing and number 5 fuel tank, causing the crash which killed everyone on board.

That was a single 4 oz strip of metal hitting a tire. A pound of bolts or nails will destroy the engine - or a metal drone engine that size.

about three weeks ago
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Hundreds of Cities Wired With Fiber, But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unusable

Cyberdyne Re:Annoying. (347 comments)

A business called "BT Wholesale / aka OpenReach"

Actually, BT Wholesale is a separate unit from Openreach. Openreach manages the 'final mile' services: all the copper wire, the local exchange buildings, and some but not all of the equipment in there. A few UK ISPs build their services on top of Openreach's products directly: TalkTalk and Sky, for example, went and installed their own DSLAMs in those exchange buildings, paying Openreach to connect the copper wires to them. BT Wholesale also takes those Openreach products, adds in their own national backbone and offers a service to other ISPs: they'll install a fast fibre backbone link to the ISP's premises/facilities, and connect the customers through that to the ISP.

This can cause problems; my own ISP is a BT Wholesale customer, so when I had a fault earlier this year they had to report it to BT Wholesale, who passed it on to Openreach to deal with. Openreach came out and tested their bit - my phone line, and the VDSL equipment on each end - and found nothing wrong there, so closed the fault. After six visits, BT Wholesale (or rather, BT TSOps and the Adhara Ops team at Adastral Park, where the fault got escalated to in the end) eventually found the problem was on their own backbone (a faulty router was corrupting traffic between certain IP addresses - one of which happened to be a core router at my ISP).

I agree with the overall approach, though, having a separate and regulated entity run just the local loop portion. (In practice, Openreach is still a part of BT - hence I got a sales pitch from at least one of the six Openreach engineers about BT Retail being a better option. Against all the rules - Openreach are officially supposed to be neutral - but could that ever really happen in practice while they're still the same company?)

about a month and a half ago
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ARIN Is Down To the Last /8 of IPv4 Addresses

Cyberdyne Re:About time! (306 comments)

Others such as Eli Lily or the UK Gov Dept of Pensions really don't need so many addresses

Someone in the UK government pointed that out recently - it turns out that "Dept of Pensions" allocation is actually used across most of the government as some sort of VPN extranet with various external contractors. Apparently, since they all use different RFC1918 blocks internally, they can't all be VPNed into any single RFC1918 block: they needed a globally-unique block for that purpose.

British Telecom uses the 30.0.0.0/8 block for managing all their customer modems - that block is actually allocated to the US DoD, but they don't allow external access to it anyway, so there's nothing to stop you using that block internally yourself as long as you don't need to communicate with any other networks using the same trick. Better than wasting an entire /8 of global address space just for internal administrative systems - or a /9, like Comcast grabbed back in 2010.

My inner geek - who cares about efficiency - would love to see all the legacy blocks revoked. I'm sure the DoD could use 10/8 instead of 30/8 quite easily for their non-routed block; the universities could easily fit in a /16 instead of a /8, or smaller with a bit of NAT. Still, we should be moving to IPv6 instead now: give each university and ISP a /48, or /32 for big complex networks needing multiple layers. I just have a nasty feeling we're in for a long time of CGNAT spreading instead - where we currently have ISPs that don't offer static IP addresses, in a few years they'll be refusing to issue anything other than a NATted 100.64/16 address.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft's Security Products Will Block Adware By Default Starting On July 1

Cyberdyne Re:adware is malware (177 comments)

I wonder when microsoft will get around to getting their vendors to stop accepting kickbacks for shitty adware on new systems.
This practice is one of the reasons why I still build my own desktop systems. Getting rid of the junk is a massive hassle, and restoration of the system from partition brings it all back.

I hate the usual crap that gets shovelled on too, but to be fair Microsoft have apparently been pushing against that for a few years now for exactly that reason. Of course, they need to tread carefully there for legal reasons: if they block, say, Dell bundling a limited-time version of Norton Anti-virus, Dell won't be happy (they lose the $5 or whatever kickback) and Symantec will probably lawyer up and come knocking, particularly with Microsoft offering their own AV product now. Remember all the fallout when they killed off Netscape, when they stopped IBM from bundling OS/2 as a dual-boot setup with Windows? We both know this is different, but Microsoft's lawyers are apparently paranoid about crossing that line again.
I'm told they also offer crapware-free machines in their own stores, which makes sense. I just wish they'd make OEMs ship a plain vanilla Windows install disk like they used to, no more "restore" BS - so anyone wanting a clean machine can just re-install.

about 4 months ago
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

Cyberdyne Re:ACARS (491 comments)

The article does not make it clear that the satellite signals in question are those of ARINC's ACARS data system, developed in 1978.

Probably because ACARS was turned off hours earlier in the flight, back before the aircraft flew back over Malaysia! Had it been active, ACARS would have reported the aircraft's location, altitude, speed and other useful data, making finding it much easier; it was switched off with the other cockpit systems, though, leaving just the Inmarsat terminal's hourly "ping" active, so until the Doppler analysis, all they knew was the distance between the satellite and aircraft.

about 3 months ago
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ICANN Considers Using '127.0.53.53' To Tackle DNS Namespace Collisions

Cyberdyne Re:hacky (164 comments)

Unfortunately, 127.0.53.53 is a perfectly valid IP address already in use globally - try pinging it on most machines for proof. Remember, the loopback address is not just 127.0.0.1 - it's that whole /8 subnet, all the way up to 127.255.255.255. Indeed, two of my own DNS servers are bound to 127.0.0.53 right now (there's another DNS server bound to the public IP address, which forwards certain queries to this one).

This seems like a really, really stupid hack to me. If they are effectively revoking the domain, why not just return NXDOMAIN instead of bad data? Apart from the "people seeing it for the first time will be curious and go and Google 127.0.53.53 to see why", the rationale just doesn't hold up. Apart from anything else, returning that will cause mail servers to attempt delivery to themselves. Yes, it contains the traffic within the host - but NXDOMAIN would stop the traffic having anywhere to go too, and is the correct response. (One clueless hosting company did something very similar - any departing customer's DNS entries were updated to route mail to 127.0.0.1 - with the result mail bounced until the new delegation propagated fully. 127.0.53.53 would have exactly the same effect.)

about 5 months ago
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Top US Lobbyist Wants Broadband Data Caps

Cyberdyne Re:A dangerous side effect on data capping (568 comments)

Data capping isn't really relevant to that - a hundred megabytes of, say, LAPD beating up a suspect or university campus police tear-gassing non-violent protesters is no bigger a datastream than a hundred megabytes of my cat chasing his toy mouse round the floor, when it's being uploaded to the likes of YouTube; once it hits there, I don't think Google use cable modems to send it from their datacenters. A hostile power would just cut the connection, whether you have an "unlimited" connection or a pay-as-you-go one - as has happened a few times in recent disturbances (Egypt or Syria?) - they don't bother looking at individual data packages anyway.

The poster further up had it exactly, I think: it's all about killing off competition from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Any guesses why else it would be Time Warner and Comcast - i.e. the cable ISPs - pushing this, rather than AT&T and Verizon? (Not that those two would be unhappy either, of course: more money, an easier market for their FiOS and U-verse TV offerings - but it's obviously Comcast and TW who have the most to lose.)

about 8 months ago
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Google Fiber Partially Reverses Server Ban

Cyberdyne Re:server ban? (169 comments)

There was a server ban? What for?

Backdoor way of limiting bandwidth usage. On TCP/IP, really a "server" is just the one that sends SYN|ACK packets in response to SYN packets, rather than sending out SYNs - but ISPs latched on to "no servers" as a more marketable way to kick heavy users off without being honest about usage limits.

With cable, downstream bandwidth is more abundant and more efficient (the upstream channel is vulnerable to collisions, since there are multiple senders on a channel) so heavy upload usage can actually be a problem to some extent. On ADSL and its derivatives, though, it's only your own link you're filling up with upstream traffic: the backhaul connections are invariably symmetric, so those gigabit+ links between you and the ISP are only full up in the other direction.

I switched back in 2012 from "unlimited" (but no servers, dynamic IP, ports blocked, sending nastygrams to anyone using "too much" of the "unlimited" bandwidth) to an ISP with actual explicit usage charges (and a small routed subnet with no ports blocked). As long as it's legal I can do what I want: mail servers, web servers, the lot - I just have to pay a bit more if I download more. (It's download traffic that matters to them: upstream, there's bandwidth to spare, because the links are symmetric.) I hated the idea of usage-based charging - but I hate all the other restrictions more; at about $0.30 per Gb, it's low enough not to bother me as much as "unlimited, but use it too much and we cut you off".

about 9 months ago
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Ethernet's 400-Gigabit Challenge Is a Good Problem To Have

Cyberdyne Re:The faster data moves (75 comments)

E10? in the UK for ITU-T they have E1 through E4.....we're talking about business grade time division multiplex carrier lines, not DSL or cable or other consumer grade shakier and less reliable tech

I imagine 'E10' there is a reference to 10 Mbps metro Ethernet, something like the Ethernet in the First Mile approach. There's nothing inherently "consumer grade" about DSL itself: indeed, even E1 "leased lines" get delivered over HDSL or similar in some cases. Unlike cable, which is contended and prone to collisions, DSL gives you a constant bitrate (unless configured to vary to squeeze higher bitrates when line quality permits) point to point link, just like a conventional leased line - all the performance fluctuations of typical DSL Internet access come further into the network, where your 20 Mbps connection is sharing a 1 Gbps backhaul with a thousand others and gets choked up when everyone is streaming X-Brother Get Me Out Of Here or whatever. Give the DSL link dedicated or uncontended backhaul like leased lines have, you'll get the same performance too.

about 9 months ago
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Could Snowden Have Been Stopped In 2009?

Cyberdyne Re:Snowden must be preemptively stopped (247 comments)

Is the date on the report questioning Snowden's loyalties the same as the date the material was actually entered into the electronic records? I can think of several strong reasons why the CIA might want to do some rewriting of its own history here. And certainly they have the expertise to do a good of that. In fact it would be routine for them to alter history: that is how you give a mole a credible back story.

The CIA is not just a spy agency. They are also the USA Bureau of Missinformation And Dysinformation.

I can imagine them rewriting history, but in this case I doubt it; surely it would suit them better for him to have been a normal, competent employee at that point, who then went rogue later, rather than saying "oops ... yes, we saw all these warning signs, but forgot to do anything about it for a few years. Told you so - er, I mean, we would have told you so, if we'd been more alert..."

Of course, if you're really paranoid, you'd wonder if the CIA computers had been compromised by, say, some other agency with lots of expertise at breaking into high-value targets, and this report had been planted by them, maybe to divert blame for their own failed internal security...

about 9 months ago
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Foxconn Accused of Forcing InternsTo Build PS4s Or Lose School Credit

Cyberdyne Re:better than building Xbones. (196 comments)

Foxconn have the contract to assemble the Xbox 720 as well - not to mention Nintendo consoles. I remember pointing this out after a smug ex-MSFT blogger posted a link about Foxconn, bragging that Foxconn would never meet Microsoft's supplier criteria, so Apple must have lower standards...

about 9 months ago
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Facebook Building a Company Town

Cyberdyne Re:accidental lie by omission. (159 comments)

That said, historical company towns that didn't force workers to use scrip [wikipedia.org] avoided some of these issues -- but that would mean allowing workers easily to exit the town by actually paying them real money, which they could take elsewhere.

Why am I suddenly reminded of stock options and the whole "vesting" concept, where if you leave too soon some of the paper you got as part of your remuneration becomes worthless? Not identical of course - I'm guessing even Facebook's "company stores" won't take stock options in payment - but there are more than a few parallels there.

On the other hand, it also sounds like a nice setup if it all works properly, and you'd still be free to leave if you wanted.

about 10 months ago
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Chronicle: Mother's computer slows down or freezes

Cyberdyne Re:Any chance of PIO mode? (6 comments)

Did the HD get knocked back to PIO mode?

That makes sense - I had a machine showing similar symptoms, and eventually found this was the culprit. Windows has an error counter, and it seems that once the drive hits the threshold, Windows assumes it's not DMA capable - of course, in reality, it could just be cumulative random glitches over a long period of time, as it was in this machine's case. There was a little script I found which cleared the relevant registry keys so the drive would no longer be on the Windows "blacklist" of dodgy drives, ResetDMA.vbs, which is top of the Google results for that term at the moment; as soon as I ran that, the performance was completely different.

about 4 years ago
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Chronicle: told someone i turned off Internet Explorer

Cyberdyne Re:Why ashamed? (8 comments)

But there is a difference. Even my interlocutor would know that "oil change" is a euphemism. "turning off" sounds like it might be accurate!

I would just have said disabled instead - which would be accurate, yet also nice and simple.

more than 3 years ago
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State Vaccination Program

Cyberdyne Bad phishing (7 comments)

I remember getting what I thought had to be a snail-mail phishing attempt: a poorly-worded letter from my (major) credit card company, printed badly on something resembling toilet paper with a dot-matrix printer, saying they wanted to check an unspecific transaction with me so I should call some phone number with my card details handy. Needless to say, it was actually genuine: phishers would probably have used a better printer...

more than 4 years ago
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the sorry state of updating on Windows

Cyberdyne Update fail (5 comments)

There's certainly room for improvement - but even moving from Windows Update to Microsoft Update took them a while, and that was just a case of extending support to another of their own products! I never cease to be amazed by just how resource-intensive the update check is, either: check for updates on a machine with "only" half a gigabyte of RAM and be prepared for many minutes of disk thrashing as the process responsible blasts through the hundred Mb barrier; at one point last year, I tried a little race, Debian 'apt-get update/apt-get dist-upgrade' against MS Update. In the time it took the Microsoft offering to download and display the list of applicable updates, apt-get had checked and updated not one but three separate machines, all less powerful than the Windows machine - even though the Debian tool covered every application installed.

I'm not sure the current Microsoft Update could realistically be extended much further - it struggles badly enough under the current limited workload. I agree about the InstallShield abomination, too: my heart sinks whenever I find myself having to install and support an application which has been mangled that way.

Rather than extend the existing MS system, though, I think the best route might be an open third-party update mechanism, preferably with central administration facilities and policy support. Having helped support labs totalling a few hundred PCs in the past, I'd love to be able to see that Firefox, Thunderbird, AutoCAD and Virusscan are all patched up to date, or indeed to be told that those three PCs in the corner are behind on patches and need investigation. As it stands, half our applications will tell users (who don't have the necessary account privileges to update anything) that they need updating, irritating users and making us look out of date - the other half silenty wait for an admin user to run them, which may not happen for weeks.

Sure, I could try to shoe-horn every application into some third-party application management setup - but that's a whole new world of pain, expense and overhead. Why can't I just approve and install Firefox, then have a privileged service automatically update to new versions without needing local intervention? I can't go round 200 machines, logging on locally just to update the web browser every other week!

more than 5 years ago
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Verbiage: Customized email addresses problems

Cyberdyne Traitor tracing (6 comments)

I did this for a while with a free subdomain (my last name .ath.cx); unfortunately, I did this when I registered a domain with Verio. The domain itself has long since expired, I haven't had any dealings with Verio for years - but verio@mylastname.ath.cx still gets spammed regularly, because it was automatically listed as the domain contact address in Whois.

There is a Mac application I use a lot now called 1Password, which keeps track of passwords and other details - it has a built in facility for entering your contact information and a secure random password on registration forms which works very well, so making it generate and use a one-time email address should be easy enough, addressing issue 2 quite well at least: Chase wouldn't object to 72d48f27@... - the first four octets of the MD5 hash of 'Chase' in hex - in the way it might to chase@... Similarly, your mail client could be programmed to send to each recipient using their own personal address for you, perhaps entering it only as a Reply-To (with no email address in the From field, just a name). Not as useful for personal contacts, business cards etc, but that's 2 and 3 dealt with at least.

more than 5 years ago
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ESTA - Do I smell non joined-up thinking?

Cyberdyne Transitional? (3 comments)

I had that last summer; I got the impression this was a transitional thing, though, and that once the airlines get the system working properly it will just take your ESTA number instead. Mind you, I had to switch browsers just to get Continental's site to complete the process (otherwise, it hung just after entering passport numbers), so it could be a while before they get that far...

more than 5 years ago
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Minor Airline Annoyances

Cyberdyne Re:yeah (6 comments)

Those prices can be insane, although I do wonder how many people actually pay the full price for those premium fares, as opposed to upgrading through frequent flyer miles or similar systems. Also, I seem to remember from the days when I did LON-IAH several times a year that BA had an option below Club class, something like "World Traveller" - a hundred pound premium for some extra legroom, a better seat and better food. Nothing like the extra luxury of the wallet-destroying classes, but a significant improvement from what I saw. (Not that I ever flew in it: I tended to avoid BA because EDI/GLA-LON-IAH was much less pleasant for me than GLA-ORD-IAH. Almost anything beats CDG, of course!)

more than 5 years ago
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Dem Ohio Secretary of State Denies Legal Ballot Requests from Republicans

Cyberdyne Crazier still... (1 comments)

The first coverage of this I saw was claiming that including that box was, in fact, an Evil Republikan Plot(TM) to disenfranchise Democrats. Much like the argument in 2000 that Florida's ballot being "confusing" skewed it against Democrat voters because they're less able to figure out confusing documents than Republican voters, the bias was apparently that it would be mostly would-be Democrat voters who failed to read the form and check that box. Her position is certainly crazy and a waste of money, so I hope the court orders her to disregard that box, but somehow I get the feeling that whatever the outcome might be, it will still be portrayed by some as a Republican plot.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

Cyberdyne hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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EU racing against US, USSR to build GPS

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Story link

Having launched one of the thirty satellites required, the eight-member commercial consortium tasked with building Galileo, the EU's planned rival to the American NAVSTAR (better known as GPS) and Soviet GLONASS systems, has apparently declined to invest further money in the project. Future funding will consist entirely of another $4bn and change from EU taxpayers, since the consortium is no longer confident of getting a return on their own investment. (Somehow, it sounds almost as if they doubt the commercial prospects of being the third to launch a service which has already been available to everyone free of charge for over a decade...)

Despite this setback, with a further influx of EU funding, the European Commission hopes to have the constellation online by 2011; the American and Russian counterparts were completed in 1995 and 1994 respectively.

Just imagine how far behind the Soviet Union the EU would be without the influx of billions in extra funding to speed things up...

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Multiply and conquer

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago Time to follow the herd, I suppose: Multiply. Go there, and find out who it was who sent me an e-mail last week - asking me what my e-mail address is...

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Server death, the sequel...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago

*sniff* Alas, poor Server!

My current server, home to some of my websites, some e-mail and half my DNS service, has decided it would make life more fun if it rebooted spontaneously every few minutes. Nothing in the logs, just unsolicited rebooting - possibly a power supply issue of some sort. (All I know is SMART shows the hard drive is OK; I'd expect most memory or CPU problems to give different symptoms, but being eight time zones away makes diagnostics rather limited.)

I was going to have to change all my domain registrations anyway, since the IP address was going to change soon because of new transit arrangements with their transit provider, but now it's rather more urgent: I have a production site which is only sporadically available! :-(

My plan is to get a second virtual server (I had one virtual and one physical, until now) and set everything up to be replicated between them (currently, I only have DNS and MySQL replicated fully, with some web sites rsynced when I change them, others only hosted on one machine or the other). Email will be more of a pain: I have a few mailing lists under ezmlm, which I'll probably convert to use MySQL for replicated list management (so list posts get delivered to and distributed by either of the two) - but my mailboxes themselves can only live on a single host, really.

The one big advantage of having a physical server was the value: for about the same money, I got far more disk space, RAM and bandwidth, with a dedicated CPU instead of sharing a couple of Xeon cores with a dozen or two other users. On the downside, no console access (I did have for a while, but that disappeared at some point), less control (a couple of times I ordered remote power-cycling through the host's web interface, while still logged in to the server; from the fact I was still logged in, the reboot didn't seem as successful as the site claimed!) - and no protection against hardware failure, which suddenly seems much more important now...

Has anyone in the zoo set up things like this before? Or, for that matter, got any ideas why my previously-reliable server suddenly starts rebooting itself? Any hosting recommendations for me?

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"Only" being paid $200k is a "constitutional crisis"

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago According to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, paying his colleagues a "mere" $200k, with federal district court judges languishing on just $165k, is "inadequate" and "has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis."

Inadequate compensation directly threatens the viability of life tenure, and if tenure in office is made uncertain, the strength and independence judges need to uphold the rule of law - even when it is unpopular to do so - will be seriously eroded

Frankly, I'm not convinced of his core assumption that "life tenure" is desirable, let alone essential - I'd prefer term limits, the very opposite, or at least having them face regular election to make them accountable to those they profess to serve. Perhaps he does have a point that without the taxpayer making judges rich directly, their greed will drive them into the pockets of lobbyists, but I suspect the opposite is more likely: make them richer and you'll be attracting more people motivated by money, rather than more laudable motives, as in the Simpsons episode where America entrusts the trillion dollar bill to Montgomery Burns: as the richest man, clearly he's the least corrupt.

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The SJ degree

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago 1. State I'd rather live in: TX
2. Stranded on island/desert: I'll take the dessert, please.
3. What "catches your eye" first in the opposite sex? Head - face, hair, expression, eyes.
4. How much do you think a guy should spend on an engagement ring? No idea
5. How old do you want to be when you retire? N/A - the idea of stopping work just because you hit some arbitrary age seems daft.
6. ? Probably.
7. Would you rather be the smartest person in the world or the most attractive person in the world? Smartest: looks fade much more readily.
8. Do you think tattoos are hot? Not really.
9. What was your first pet? A black Labrador.
10. Where did you go on your first Spring Break? Nope.
11. Are you scared of spiders or snakes? Not unless they're dangerous ones.
12. What was your first job? IT, scraping mangled bits off mangled servers.
13. What is in your front, right pocket? Handkerchief, some coins.
14. Do you put up a real Christmas tree each year? Usually - it's in the back of the car ATM...
15. How many blankets are on your bed? Just the one duvet.
16. Do you have a TV in your bedroom? No, just three or four computers.
17. When was the last time you received a card in the mail? This morning.
18. There is no question 18. Wrong: it's just rhetorical.
19. Who was the last person that text-messaged you? Probably my brother.
20. Who was the first person you saw today? Ditto - we're heading out for our weekly lunch together soon.
21. Do you have any awards hanging on your wall? No.
22. Do you own glasses? Yes - tried contacts, didn't like them.
23. When is the last time you shaved something on your body? My face, yesterday.
24. MIA.
25. What was your first vehicle? A Peugeot, with slightly dodgy brakes, which embedded itself in the back of something solid on its first outing. Not a good start.
26. Do you miss high school? Sometimes.
27. Are you more of a neat or messy person? Ask the team searching for the carpet.
28. Do you think that everyone should have a cell phone? Yes. Preferably one which only rings silently.
29. Do you remember your first family vacation? France - when my brother was taken ill and my mother had to explain to the doctor why she didn't want to give a two year old child aspirin.
30. Ever been in a fight with a best friend? Sort of - we argue over technical points all the time.
31. Ever puked in public? Only once - on the ceiling.
32. Would you prefer dinner and a movie or bowling and ice cream? The former.
33. Do you sleep with your door open or closed at night? Slightly open, so my cat can get in and out.
34. How far do you live from work? 20-odd miles, costing about $18/day by public transport. Not good value, even with $7/gallon as the alternative.
35. Do you believe in afterlife? Not particularly.
36. How many credit cards do you own? Five: one AmEx (which I normally use for the loyalty points), one Visa (which I normally use in places which don't take AmEx) and three MasterCard (two disused, one which I use at the moment becase it's interest free until September).
37. Would you move to another country tomorrow, if you were offered a $100,000 job? That depends on the country. The US, Australia, Canada? In a heartbeat. Iraq? Probably not.
38. How many kids do you see yourself having? Probably one or two, depending on circumstances.
39. Were you a trouble child? In some ways; I wasn't a big fan of rules.
40. Do you like butterflies? Yes.
41. Can you shake your booty? Erm... never tried - not really my thing.
42. Do you shower at night or in the morning? Morning.
43. Where is your favorite place to eat? It varies. I'm planning to try this place soon - most of my favorites are similar to that. There's a good Thai place in town where I'll probably have lunch today, though.
44. What did you wear to bed last night? A cat and a duvet.
45. Do you have to sleep with something "ON" every night in order to sleep? I like to have some music, although XP x64's driver "issues" robbed me of that lately :-(
46. On average, how much TV do you watch a day? Two hours, I suppose, while multi-tasking.
47. Do you have any piercings? No.
48. Would you rather go snorkeling in the Caribbean or hiking on the Appalachian Trail? Hiking: I'm too attached to being able to breathe.
49. Have you ever taken karate lessons? No, just judo.
50. Do you think if you got married, you would ever get a divorce? It's possible, but I hope not.

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Weird spam

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Hrm. The latest piece of spam to hit my spambucket had a German title ("Gesundheit u. Medizin"), and the sender address was Ethelred. Apparently he's giving away Cadillac Escalades...

Then two more: one with content of "shagface" (and nothing else - no URL, nothing being advertised, nothing!) - and "Hey, Thanks for everything. I really appreciate all your help. Lila", which claimed to come from an Israeli email address and was sent to at least 8 addresses on this domain.

I can understand spammers promoting their online Viagra sales or whatever - but bizarre partly-German messages about free Cadillacs? Maybe they're just trying to validate their list, by seeing how many people actually reply - assuming the return address they put is actually valid?

Maybe I should just be glad they're still identified as spam, usually because of the open relays being abused to deliver them...

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Meme me

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago

1. Legal first name? James
2. Were you named after anyone? No
3. Do you wish on stars? No
4. When did you last cry? When my cat died a few years ago, I think.
5. What is your favorite lunch meat? Chicken or beef, I suppose.
6. What is your birth date? Feb 24
7. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Probably
8. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Yep.
9. What are your nicknames? None.
10. Would you ever bungee jump? Maybe.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not normally.
12. Do you think that you are strong? Fairly
13. What is your favorite ice cream flavour? Mint choc chip
14. Shoe size? 11 UK, 12 US I think - varies a little with manufacturer
15. Red or pink? Red
16. Who do you miss most? Moving targets.
18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? None right now, usually jeans and black shoes.
19. What are you listening to right now? A TV show
20. What did you eat for breakfast? Toasted cheese
21. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Stripey :-)
22. What is the weather like right now? Cold, Damp and grey. It's Scotland.
23. Last person you talked to on the phone? My best friend, if text counts; my mother if not.
24. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Hair.
25. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I saw it in a set of friends' JEs; I guess I like them!
26. Favorite drink? Lemonade or coffee.
27. Hair color? Dark brown
28. Do you wear contacts? No.
29. Favorite food? Steak.
30. Last movie you watched? Erm... no idea.
31. Favorite day of the year? No idea
32. Scary movies or happy endings? Scary
33. Summer or winter? Winter
34. Hugs or kisses? Yes please :P
35. What is your favorite dessert? Cheesecake
36. Living arrangements? House.
38. What's on your mouse pad? The rest of the chair.
39. What did you watch last night on TV? ST:TNG, right now.
40. Favorite smell?
41. Favorite junk food?
42. Rolling Stones or Beatles? No.
43. What's the farthest you've been from home? Physically, Texas; culturally, France, whose Prime Minister was apparently talking about the need to "clean the immigrant scum with a power hose". Lovely.

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Soylent Green is ... the source of BSE?!

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago Apparently a new study indicates BSE (Mad Cow Disease) may have first infected cattle as a result of human remains in their feed. An interesting reversal of the previous assumptions about CJD's origins - which raises the obvious chicken/egg problem: if CJD actually spread to cattle to become BSE, where did CJD really come from?

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Mad doctors

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago

These are actual notes from Doctors' patient charts...

1. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

2. On the 2nd day the knee was better and on the 3rd day it disappeared completely.

3. She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

4. The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.

5. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

6. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male. Mentally alert but forgetful.

8. The patient refused an autopsy.

9. The patient has no past history of suicides.

10. Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

11. Patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

14. Since she can't get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.

15. She is numb from her toes down.

16. While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

17. The skin was moist and dry.

18. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

20. Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.

21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

24. Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

26. The patient was to have a bowel re-section. However, he took a job as a lawyer instead.

27. Skin: Somewhat pale but present.

28. The pelvic examination will be done later on the floor.

29. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

30. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

31. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

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Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago (This rant brought to you by a chunk of my life wasted trying to achieve something in Excel which should have been trivial, but was needlessly complicated by Microsoft's use of defective bacteria to write software.)

You might think a search and replace function was trivial. Indeed, I'm sure that even the non-programmers among us could figure it out given a good book or two and a few hours to experiment. However, that is why you aren't working for Microsoft, developing infuriating paperclips...

Yep, that's right. The lobotomized ass-spawn who brought us such masterpieces of user-friendly software as MS Bob and That Infernal Paperclip managed to screw up one of the most basic text manipulation functions, "Replace". Try it on a cell too large, you're hit with "Formula too large." Never mind that it is text, with no formula in sight. Never mind that Excel allows manual editing (plus saving, loading, importing and exporting) of this data just fine. Never mind that OpenOffice's spreadsheet component manages it just fine. *snarl*. Where would I like to go today? Well, how about a trip a decade into the future, by which time hopefully Microsoft have managed to recruit somebody with programming skills good enough to pass at least a high school beginners' programming exam?

Never one to be outdone by Microsoft, the Novell DHCP server decides this would be a good day to start disabling DHCP allocations. Time to retire that particular bug collection, I think.

Finally, to crown it all, I find out a guy from my old school (a couple of years below me) died yesterday. Can anything else find a way to go wrong before bed?

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$89,000 a year in benefits - and it's not enough

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago Scary. One woman in England, with fifteen children (plus seven miscarriages) is claiming welfare payments equivalent to an $89,000/yr salary - in addition to free housing, healthcare and education, of course. Last Christmas she spent around $9k, including two PS2s, two TVs and a few bicycles. Her comment on this? The house the taxpayer provides for her isn't big enough. Never a thought of trying to earn money herself to fund her way of life, of course: that's everyone else's problem...

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A clue is born...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago Promising comments from the top - he doesn't have the power to implement it, of course, but should have some influence.

After my last JE, I found myself losing service entirely for around ten minutes during a journey - starting right in the middle of a mid-size city. Oh, that wonderful legacy technology...

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Cellphone Schadenfreude

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago The cellphone industry seems even more enthusiastic about bizarre acronyms than most technology areas, but this guy knows his way around them better than many. A good explanation of the nature of TDMA, GSM (actually an alternative layer on top of TDMA, as he explains) and CDMA, as well as the two competing CDMA derivatives, WCDMA (also known as UMTS or "3g") and CDMA2000, although he does focus more on the lower levels of the technology and how GSM's weaknesses are causing major headaches for the networks using it, rather than the security flaws in the higher levels...

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Meme me

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Just joining in QotOR's trend here...

(x) smoked a cigarette -- most of a packet one night, along with a couple of cigars.
( ) crashed a friend's car -- only my own - see below...
( ) stolen a car (a friends)
(x) been in love -- haven't we all?
(x) been dumped -- sort of, depending who tells it...
( ) shoplifted -- caught my best friend doing it once, though.
( ) been fired
(x) been in a fist fight -- sort of: broke someone's wrist with my face once...
( ) snuck out of your parent's house
(x) had feelings for someone who didn't have them back
( ) been arrested
( ) gone on a blind date
( ) lied to a friend
( ) skipped school
( ) seen someone die
( ) had a crush on one of your internet friends -- too limited for that. I'd need to meet someone in person first.
(x) been to Canada
( ) been to Mexico -- Texas, but only the far side of it. I do love Tex-Mex food, though...
(x) been on a plane -- including the front seat.
(x) purposely set a part of yourself on fire
(x) eaten sushi -- one of my favorite foods, in fact.
(x) been skiing
(x) met someone from the internet
(x) been at a concert
(x) taken painkillers
( ) love someone or miss someone right now
(x) laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by
( ) made a snow angel
( ) had a tea party -- never been to Boston, either.
(x) flown a kite
(x) built a sand castle
( ) gone puddle jumping
( ) played dress up -- unless being on TV counts
( ) jumped into a pile of leaves
(x) gone sledding
(x) cheated while playing a game -- single-player only!
(x) been lonely
(x) fallen asleep at work/school
( ) used a fake ID -- had a guy from Pakistan try to buy one from me for EUR7000 once though.
(x) watched the sun set
( ) felt an earthquake
(x) slept beneath the stars -- if in tents counts
(x) been tickled
( ) been robbed
(x) been misunderstood
( ) petted a reindeer /kangaroo
(x) won a contest
( ) run a red light/stop sign
( ) been suspended from school
(x) been in a car crash -- brakelines cut. Not good. I didn't need medical attention after that one, though, unlike the bus crash which had me kept in overnight for observation, since I passed out later that day, having left a head-shaped dent in the back of the bus; come to think of it, that's the only night I've ever spent in hospital.
( ) had braces
(x) felt like an outcast/third person
( ) eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
(x) had deja vu
( ) danced in the moonlight
( ) liked the way you looked
(x) witnessed a crime
(x) questioned your heart
( ) been obsessed with post-it notes
( ) squished barefoot through the mud
( ) been lost
(x) been on the opposite side of the country
( ) swam in the ocean
(x) felt like dying
(x) cried yourself to sleep
( ) played cops and robbers
( ) recently colored with crayons
( ) sung karaoke
(x) paid for a meal with only coins -- in a country where the smallest note is around $9 and the largest normal coin almost $4, that's not hard...
(x) done something you told yourself you wouldn't do
( ) made prank phone calls
(x) laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) danced in the rain
( ) written a letter to Santa Claus
(x) been kissed under the mistletoe
( ) watched the sun rise with someone you care about -- I want to
(x) blown bubbles
( ) made a bonfire on the beach
( ) crashed a party
( ) gone rollerskating
(x) had a wish come true
( ) jumped off a bridge
( ) ate dog/cat food
( ) told a complete stranger you loved them
( ) kissed a mirror
( ) sang in the shower
(x) had a dream that you married someone
(x) glued your hand to something -- superglue. Fortunately, it didn't stick for long.
( ) kissed a fish
(x) sat on a roof top
( ) screamed at the top of your lungs
( ) done a one-handed cartwheel
( ) talked on the phone for more than 5 hours -- unless the Internet counts. Record: over 150 hours on a single call, back when per-minute charges applied except to calls starting on a weekend...
(x) stayed up all night
( ) picked and ate an apple right off the tree
(x) climbed a tree
(x) had a tree house
( ) scared to watch a scary movie alone
( ) believe in ghosts
( ) have more than 30 pairs of shoes
( ) worn a really ugly outfit to school
( ) gone streaking
( ) gone doorbell ditching
( ) played gay chicken? -- uh, what is that?
( ) pushed into a pool/hot tub with all your clothes on
( ) told you're hot by a complete stranger
( ) broken a bone -- cut the tip of my finger off once, but reattached it
(x) been easily amused
( ) caught a fish then ate it
( ) caught a butterfly
(x) laughed so hard you cried
( ) cried so hard you laughed
( ) cheated on a test
(x) forgotten someone's name -- all the time. Which is strange, since I have an excellent memory for almost everything else...
( ) french braided someone's hair
( ) gone skinny dipping in a pool/hot tub -- a friend tried to talk me into it once, but no...
(x) been threatened to be kicked out of your house
( ) loved someone so much you would gladly die for them

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Crying Wolf?

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  about 9 years ago Hm. So last night's evacuation of 20,000 or so people from Birmingham turns out to have been a false alarm, it seems - but one of the "suspicious packages" included "a box with wires hanging out and a switch on top". A genuine accident, given the timing and the box's appearance? That seems unlikely - more likely, someone is trying to cause "false" alarms like this. Last night, just two days after Thursday's attack on London, of course everyone took it seriously - will they react as well the third time in a row? Then a genuine one, and recriminations for not taking that warning seriously as well...

In a sense - if it was deliberate - last night was a successful attack, and very economical too: not an ounce of explosives, not one shred of incriminating evidence (just some guys carrying backpacks on a bus, then 'forgetting' them when they get off) - yet it caused huge disruption to people's lives, economic harm: a very effective DoS.

Manipulating warnings of a terrorist attack is nothing new, of course; the IRA did so in the Omagh bombing, phoning in a last-minute warning to evacuate the other end of the target street, resulting in people being rushed towards the actual bomb.

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Deja vu?

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  about 9 years ago Uh-oh. Something bad about to happen? A hoax? Something bad prevented from happening? Presumably we'll find out soon...

Update: More comprehensive article here.

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Simple Home Remedies

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago

  • If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.
  • Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.
  • Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.
  • For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.
  • A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
  • If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.
  • Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are:

You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape.
If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40.
If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Remember:
Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.
If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.
And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.

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Oops...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago As I type this, one of history's less popular weddings is imminent, with a rather small crowd of spectators lurking outside. Quite a few are waving small flags (mostly British, one of them American!) - and there's a large Union Flag draped over one of the barriers keeping the crowd off the road. Unfortunately, it is the wrong way up - traditionally a sign of distress, although probably accidental in this case.

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OBL's reward of 72 virgin...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago ...ians!

After his death, Osama bin Laden went to paradise.

He was greeted by George Washington, who slapped him across the face and yelled angrily, "How dare you attack the nation I helped conceive!" Then Patrick Henry punched Osama in the nose and James Madison kicked him in the groin. Bin Laden was subjected to similar beatings from John Randolph, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and 66 other early Americans.

As he writhed in pain on the ground, an angel appeared. Bin Laden groaned, "This is not what I was promised!"

The angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you! What did you think I said?"

In a similar vein, I like three shorted versions: "The good news? There are 72 virgins here. The bad news? They stay that way...", "the bad news is, there's a reason they're still virgins" and "Hey, I never said they'd be female virgins!"

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