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Amazon: We Can Ship Items Before Customers Order

Erbo I must have been a test case... (243 comments)

...and a failed test case at that.

At one point a couple of years ago, I received an unexpected delivery from Amazon, containing a bottle of PreSeed Fertility-Friendly Lubricant. This surprised both me and my fiancee, as I hadn't ordered it, nor would I order something like this, as my fiancee and I are deliberately not trying to conceive a child. (For one thing, she has DVT and is on Coumadin; a pregnancy would be potentially life-threatening for her.)

Checking my Amazon order history, I found no reference to any such order, nor did I find any reference to the order number on the invoice. I E-mailed their customer support, asking how I could return this item, since I hadn't ordered it and didn't want to be charged for it. They replied, saying that the shipment was in error, I had not been charged, and due to the nature of the item, they couldn't accept returns on it.

I wound up offering it to my Facebook friends, and shipping it to a friend in Illinois that spoke up first to claim it. She didn't say why she wanted it and I didn't ask.

about 6 months ago
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Movie Review: Ender's Game

Erbo Re:Hitchhiker's Guide (732 comments)

The movie version of Hitchhiker's was different from every other version of Hitchhiker's that came before it. To my mind, that makes it perfectly legitimate, given how much all the other versions differ from each other. And it did add some original gags to the mix.

about 9 months ago
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NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters

Erbo Re:At the risk of stating the obvious... (394 comments)

I'm sure Linus also knows at least some Finnish, and particularly Finnish curses. The phrase in question is taken directly from a (by-now famous) LKML posting he made, in which he used it because "[t]here aren't enough swear-words in the English language" to express his "disgust and frustration" with a particular patch.

about 9 months ago
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Bennett Haselton's Response To That "Don't Talk to Cops" Video

Erbo Re:SHUT UP (871 comments)

I think that what Ken says is likely true...that the police are looking to make an arrest, and they'd just as soon it be you as anybody else.

Remember, everyone in charge of the police and prosecutors is either a political appointee or a directly-elected official (in the case of county sheriffs), and they all love to appear "tough on crime" for the voters, and they tend to look out for "their own." They've probably also taken this quote to heart:

"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (1957)

about 10 months ago
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Bennett Haselton's Response To That "Don't Talk to Cops" Video

Erbo Re:SHUT UP (871 comments)

Admittedly, Ken focuses a lot on Federal investigations, and particularly the way that investigators abuse the hell out of 18 USC section 1001 to add federal felonies to investigations. This is, for instance, how they got Martha Stewart, and it was the only charge that Rod Blagojevich was actually convicted of in his first trial (the others ended in a mistrial).

When Ken is saying, "Either tell the 100% complete truth or SHUT UP," one must also keep in mind that almost nobody is capable of telling the 100% complete truth to investigators. As he has shown, even something as small as a detail you misremembered or misspoke about can be turned into an instant felony...and that additional charge, your lawyer will tell you, can make your actual case against any other charges that much more difficult to defend. (See also)

Bear in mind that Ken is now a federal defense attorney, and he has both personally seen this tactic in operation, and had colleagues report it to him.

The lesson — other than that criminal justice often has little to do with actual justice — is this: for God's sake shut up. Law enforcement agents seeking to interview you are not your friends. You cannot count on "just clearing this one thing up." Demand to talk to a lawyer before talking to the cops. Every time.

SHUT UP.

about 10 months ago
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Bennett Haselton's Response To That "Don't Talk to Cops" Video

Erbo SHUT UP (871 comments)

I'll take the advice of Ken White, an actual lawyer and former Federal prosecutor, any day...and he has an entire tag on his blog called "SHUT UP":

  1. The cops do not have your best interests at heart. Really. Even if you are just a witness, they will be happy if you blurt out something that incriminates you, or seems to incriminate you.
  2. With all respect, you probably suck at answering questions. You have not been trained yet to recognize the tactics cops use to put you ill at ease during an interview. You are probably nervous. You are probably going to be answering questions off of the top of your heard. If you have decided not to take my advice to SHUT UP, you are probably eager to please and will strain to answer questions, even if it means guessing at things you don't know or don't remember. Especially if the questions are complicated — for instance, about a financial transaction — you need to go over the details and any physical evidence to remember exactly what happened. So even if you are trying to be completely honest, if you go into this interview without careful preparation, there is an excellent chance that you will get a key fact wrong through bad memory or nerves. Later, if you remember the right answer, the cops will say you are "changing your story around."
  3. And if you aren't ready to tell the 100% unvarnished truth, God help you. Look: there are only two courses of action to take when the government asks you questions. Either tell the 100% complete truth or SHUT UP. Nothing in between. You may think you are terribly clever and can shade the truth, spin the truth, rely on cute hidden definitions to answer questions, etc. Cut that shit out. They've seen it a thousands time before. Now you've given a misleading statement that's going to be used to show consciousness of guilt, you've locked yourself into a version of events, and you've exposed yourself to prosecution. There was a time when the feds only very rarely prosecuted people for saying "I didn't do it" during an interview. Those days are past. Now, even though it is a chickenshit charge, feds routinely charge people both with the underlying offense and with false statement to the government for when the client lies to them in the interview. SHUT UP SHUT UP.
  4. Yes, you might make the government happier by cooperating. Yes, you may reduce the chances of getting charged. You can still do that after a competent lawyer debriefs you, evaluates your risks, trains you on how to act in an interview, and communicates with the government about your status. A lawyer may be able to get you an immunity guarantee for the interview. If the cops you are dealing with are inclined to shaft you for lawyering up, then they are the sort who would have shafted you one way or the other sooner or later anyway. The cops who are trying to convince you that things will go badly for you if you don't talk right now DO NOT HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART. They are trying to frighten you into talking without caring whether it is in your best interests.

(From this aptly named entry)

about 10 months ago
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The Big Hangup At Burning Man Is Cell Phones

Erbo Re:FCC License? (167 comments)

From the last linked article: "GSM operates on licensed bandwidth, so for any U.S. installation, the OpenBTS crew always obtains a FCC license and works with the local carrier to coordinate frequency use." As they should.

(Speaking of radios and frequency coordination, I've wondered how big a presence amateur radio has at Burning Man. It seems like it'd be a natural fit.)

about a year ago
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Second SFO Disaster Avoided Seconds Before Crash

Erbo Re:The only solution (248 comments)

How about, instead, banning these aircraft and these "pilots" from U.S. airspace until they're competent, to, you know, actually fly?

If you can't fly a visual approach in good weather, you're not a pilot. Period. I don't give a crap whether you've got gadgets on that plane that would allow any twelve-year-old PlayStation addict to shoot a successful landing. Gadgets can break, and when they do, you've still got hundreds of thousands of pounds of aircraft, with hundreds of passengers aboard, in the air, and they need to get down on the deck safely. For that, you need a real pilot.

about a year ago
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Why Netflix Is One of the Most Important Cloud Computing Companies

Erbo Netflix Are Spammers! (111 comments)

I refuse to do business with Netflix, because they send spam. Yes, I have personally received unsolicited commercial E-mail from Netflix, like the people writing at the two links I cite. Any company that uses and/or promotes spam should be boycotted and shunned.

1 year,3 days
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Cell Phone Powered By Urine

Erbo Prediction (88 comments)

The advent of this technology means that, in the future, we'll hear people saying, "I'll be right back, I gotta take a wicked cellphone charge."

1 year,12 days
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UCSD Lecturer Releases Geotagging Application For "Dangerous Guns and Owners"

Erbo Re:1 2 3 4 I declare flame war (976 comments)

You know, Col. Jeff Cooper's basic four rules of firearm safety aren't that complicated:

  1. All guns are always loaded. Period.
  2. Never point the muzzle at anything you're not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are lined up on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target, and what's behind it.

I know people with ten-year-old kids that have mastered those rules. They just need to be taught. Ideally, they should be taught in schools, but good luck getting that past the hoplophobes and gun-grabbers...

1 year,21 days
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AT&T Rolls Out iPhone Wireless Emergency Alerts

Erbo Re:Not Big Brother, and long overdue EAS extension (199 comments)

Under this system, as with EAS, a "Presidential alert" (technically an "Emergency Action Notification" or "EAN") is a message on the order of "nuclear attack imminent, we're all gonna die." I can't imagine not wanting to get that kind of a message.

The EAS has never yet transmitted a "for real" EAN, not even during the 9/11 attacks. Nor did its predecessor systems, EBS and CONELRAD.

about a year ago
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Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes

Erbo Re:Yes (397 comments)

That said, "and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause..."

You want to look through my iPhone? Come back with a warrant.

about a year ago
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Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes

Erbo Re:Yes (397 comments)

Right in one.

AMENDMENT IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

about a year ago
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HP Discontinue OpenVMS

Erbo Re:When will it be open-sourced? (238 comments)

The original WinNT was 3.1. I was writing code on it as early as the July 1992 Preliminary SDK. (The company I was working for at the time was porting our product for Windows 3.1 to OS/2 2.0, which I had been working on since beta, and I was well along in that effort when I got a request, "can we port it to this new Windows NT thing as well?" It turned out to be not as difficult as you might think. Making the same code build across Win16, Win32 and OS/2, now, that was hard.)

The basic architecture was outlined in a book that MS published, Inside Windows NT by Helen Custer. It was actually a fairly clean semi-microkernel design in those days. At least, it was, until M$ started breaking encapsulation and moving more stuff into the kernel (WIN32K.SYS anyone?) to meet performance goals.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Michael Chabon Tops 2008 Hugo Winners

Erbo Erbo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Erbo writes "The 2008 Hugo Award winners have been announced tonight at Denvention 3, the 66th Annual World Science Fiction Convention, in Denver, Colorado. Best Novel goes to Michael Chabon for his alternate-history detective novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Stardust, the movie adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book, won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Doctor Who took the award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, for the third year running with Steven Moffat's episode "Blink." John Scalzi won the Hugo, controversial in some circles, for Best Fan Writer, based on the writings on his blog, Whatever. The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer, with accompanying tiara, went to Mary Robinette Kowal."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Solution to Black Screen using ATI Radeon, fglrx, X

Erbo Erbo writes  |  more than 5 years ago I'm posting this here in hopes that Google will find it and maybe I'll spare some other poor ATI Radeon user a lot of frustration...also because EMinds is down right now, so I needed to put this elsewhere.

If you are running an ATI Radeon card (I use a Radeon X1600 Pro) with the fglrx driver under Linux, and you're getting a black screen when attempting to start X, there may be a couple of kernel options that are set improperly. In my custom kernel build (2.6.27.8), I wound up enabling the CONFIG_MTRR_SANITIZER ("MTRR cleanup support") option and disabling the CONFIG_X86_PAT ("x86 PAT support") option. When I did those, all of a sudden, it worked. I don't know if those options are set this way in "stock" distro kernels, I'm just saying what I did.

After that, glxinfo reports accelerated video, fgl_glxgears runs at 700 fps, and the Second Life client for Linux runs successfully. It's taken me a long time to reach this point, so I hope someone else can benefit from my experience.

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