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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?

Frobnicator Re:Public Service (184 comments)

That's similar to a BOFH story arc.

1. Configure the servers to serve as a 'cloud' resource using various open source software.
2. Show executives that this cloud computing system has much faster ping times than all the competitors.
3. Get the contract to provide cloud services.

5 hours ago

FBI Studied How Much Drones Impact Your Privacy -- Then Marked It Secret

Frobnicator Re: Transparency (133 comments)

Well, I don't think anyone is likely to rebel against the US government -- not by force anyway, given that the latter is armed to the teeth. 1.6 billion bullets for DHS, was it?vBut not everybody is claiming that the possibility of armed rebellion (preposterous though it may be) makes for a valid argument in support of the second amendment.

Well, we could always quote someone from the previous administration:

"The cost of one bullet, if the [...] people take it on themselves, is substantially less than [the cost of a war]." -- White House press secretary Ari Fleischer 1 Oct 2002.

At the time they were talking about an overthrow of Iraq. It applies well to the US as well.


Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

Frobnicator Re: surpising (168 comments)

How long do long term investors have to wait for consistent profitability?

Math time... $126M loss / $19B revenue = 0.66%, less than one percent loss for a quarter. The company is worth about $140B, so the quarter's drop is less than a tenth of a percent, meaning absorbing a the loss is a tiny decrease in a large bucket. In contrast, the skittish investors yesterday cost the company about $12B compared to the $126M business loss. The skittish investors who cause huge overnight drops like this create opportunities.

We're not talking about a company that is hemorrhaging money. It isn't a company plagued by mismanagement. It is a company that since their first day built a track record of tinkering with models. That is all Amazon has ever done. They have the resources to continue operating when they discover unprofitable ones. It takes money to make money, and many tests and changes cost time and money. Yes, some investors refuse to see the long term and demand a profit every single quarter. Other investors see this as an opportunity to buy or to hold.

Last night they took a 10% drop because short-term investors are skittish. Today you can buy it at a 10% discount; so thanks skittish investors!

2 days ago

Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Frobnicator Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

The problem has been that once a relatively few people got all that authority, under a socialist or fascist regime, they then never wanted to give it up. So societies never "evolved" beyond that to true communism. Nor is it likely to ever happen. Marx was a loon.

Pure communism is an interesting idea that is unlikely to work with humans in the long run.

It does not follow that "Marx was a loon". Given a society or species that is much more altruistic, willing to contribute to the entire society rather than focusing on personal benefit, the result would be elevation of everybody.

The idea by itself has merit, where all of society is doing all it can to contribute to everyone. But humans are greedy, selfish, lying, power hungry, egoistic creatures. Good idea, just not for humanity.

5 days ago

Amazon Fighting FTC Over In-App Purchases Fine

Frobnicator The Amazon AppStore Auto-consent (137 comments)

Nope, they need the penalty.

The Amazon AppStore app seems to have an update every two weeks. Every time it updates itself, it resets the values for IAP and parental controls. You need to manually go in after every update, disable IAP and confirm with the password, then manually reset the parental controls and confirm with the password. EVERY FREAKING TIME.

There was one instance (that I know of) that I didn't reset the parental controls and IAP flags after an update, and sure enough, that was when the kids discovered it and went on a spending spree.

NO EXCUSE for resetting the flags every update. They know about it. It isn't a bug, it is a feature that enables profits.

about three weeks ago

European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

Frobnicator Re:Well, duh... (210 comments)

I think the big problem here is that Google are expected to be the judge, jury and executioner and are getting smacked down when someone thinks they made the wrong judgement call. This stuff should be going to an independent judge instead of expecting Google to uphold a new law that has a fairly vague scope.

Yeah, that would work.

The article states that Google alone is getting over 1000 requests per day. How many other companies are getting requests, and at what rate?

While it would be ideal for some humans to look at the tens of thousands of requests made daily and carefully judge the merits of the request, it won't happen.

It won't happen for the same reason real people don't look at the DMCA takedown lists.

There are too many, and it is easier to just automate the system than to validate that every single line item is an actually infringing item. It won't take long before the requests become fully automated much like the DMCA lists are. People will download a simple tool that scours the interwebz for your name, then submits takedown requests for every match. There will be many incorrect matches made as the plebeian masses use the simple automated tools.

about three weeks ago

European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

Frobnicator Re:Well, duh... (210 comments)

...but that's exactly what the ruling does. The original case was a businessman objecting to Google links to newpaper stories about his life.

The whole concept of the law applying to everybody is surprising sometimes. ;-)

Anybody can request that data about themselves can be deleted. The law also allows links to be removed. The business can comply, or claim they have a reason outlined in the law, such as a business need for record keeping. If they fight it the person can fight it through the courts. If enough people fight it the company will suffer the pains of thousands of lawsuits.

While the news stories themselves can remain under the terms of the law, it is no surprise that people absolutely will try to make things hard to find. That's the entire point of the law. It applies to not just convicted criminals but also to politicians and prominent figures. ANYBODY can request that data be deleted under the terms of the law.

The law is to allow things to fade from the collective memory and makes it difficult for them to be found.

Removing the link to unsavory things IS the purpose. This IS what the law was designed for.

The expressed right to be forgotten includes forgetting about news stories.

I suppose next people will be upset when links to all negative stories related to upcoming politicians will suddenly vanish under the requests.

about three weeks ago

Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Frobnicator Re:Shut up and take my money (163 comments)

you could mock the mayor on twitter. sounds like he deserves it.

The mayor already resigned. He's still being sued, but he is no longer in office.

about a month and a half ago

Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Frobnicator Re:Shut up and take my money (163 comments)

I don't think you'll need to fund it. If you haven't read the PDF of his complaint, the listing of facts is surprisingly strong.

Seriously, it is short, just read the few pages in the middle. Complaint in PDF.

The claims include that there are written documents (probably email) between the mayor and the chief of police, where the mayor tells the cops to do something, the police chief says there is no legal basis, and the mayor tells him to do it anyway. Then the claims include that the cops made written statements (again, probably email) that show officers were ordered to arrest him, they balked saying there was no legal basis, but the police chief ordered it anyway. If he has those emails, that is rather damning.

The list of claims continues by citing court records, where the police filed an empty form citing no probable cause even though the law requires proper documentation. Granting a warrant based on a blank probable cause statement is also pretty damning for those involved.

If he actually has those papers, city officials and court officials declaring that they knew it was illegal but did it anyway, that is going to be hard for the individuals to deny.

A few of them are likely just CYA papers, but if accurate, the exchange boils down to this: "Do this illegal thing." "Sorry boss, it is against the law." "I know it is against the law, do it anyway." If the allegations can be substantiated (and since the suit says those are all public official records, it should be easy to validate) then this case will be a quick settlement.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:Obesity is the Epidemic Of Our Times (625 comments)

My elementary age (grades 1-5) kid has 4 lunch line options. They include a minimalist prepackaged peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the low end and rather nice hot meals on the other. When Mrs Obama did her thing, my kids complained that they forced them to also take a fruit even if they didn't want it. Hence the comment.

My junior high age (grades 6-8) kid has similar lines. Yes, one is a burger and fries if the kid wants it, and a pizza line, but also a daily rotation of better options, and a salad bar.

My high school age (grades 7-12) kid discovered not only are there two cafeterias with lots of choices, but they also have an open campus and can go anywhere as long as they return for class.

When I attended school we also had one line that was daily burger and fries, (they had several different sandwiches, ham & swiss, turkey, etc) but we also had additional lunch lines to choose from.

If a child chooses to go to the same line every day it is not because of a lack of options.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:on behalf of america (625 comments)

I disagree.

I don't think it is a matter of "more rights", any more than you get "more rights" when you turn 40 and enter that legally protected class in the US.

Almost all discrimination is legal. There are very few things you cannot legally discriminate against.

In an idealized world, people get jobs because they can do the job. They can keep the job as long as they do it well. The only factor used to discriminate (=differentiate) is the ability to do the job.

In the real world, once the field is narrowed people get interviewed and decisions get made based on tons of factors. How people look doesn't really matter to most technical workers, but would you rather hire the ideal-weight handsome person, or the 450 pound ugly guy?

We discriminate all the time, and do it legally. Employers discriminate based on education, based on job history. We discriminate based on regional accents, and hair styles, and body language. Those aren't protected classes. Employers discriminate based on all kinds of factors that have nothing to do with the job, even your cologne choice at an interview can make the difference between the person hired and the person told "no". People discriminate based on body fat. Currently it is not a protected status, so the discrimination is currently acceptable. That one might be changing.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:What about as a lifestyle choice? (625 comments)

"the lifestyle choice to be homosexual."

You high?

I'm not sure how to interpret that. Are you objecting, saying who you sleep with isn't a choice? Perhaps all homosexual are rape victims, even if they thought it was consentual adults out for a fun time? Or maybe it is genetic, some defect that needs to be cured?

Because if it is not a choice those are the options. Either the person makes a choice or they don't. You seem to suggest it is not a choice people can make. Somehow homosexual and bisexual people don't make a choice about their partners. DNA forces the choice of who we will have sex with, or other people force it on them. Nobody would ever choose a 3-way, and nobody would ever willingly choose to touch another person's naughty bits if they are the same gender... is that what you mean?

Sure, I do believe some people have same sex attraction because of DNA reasons. But the actions themselves are a lifestyle choice. Lots of people have homosexual relations because that is how the person wants to live their life.

Just like all the other items on the list, they are things people choose to do. People serve in the military as a choice. People get married and have children as a choice. People have sex with others as a choice. These choices are all legally protected under discrimination laws. Adding obese to the list doesn't seem extreme.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:Next up, being an idiot. (625 comments)

If it where a medical condition i could understand it, but it is mostly a problem of having the wrong style of life.

Pregnancy is a lifestyle choice, and it is a protected status.

Family status including marriage and children are a lifestyle choice, and it is a protected status.

Choosing to be in the military is a lifestyle choice, and it is a protected status.

The gender of your sexual partners is a lifestyle choice, and it is a protected status.

All that maters is the ability to do the job.

So why not?

The only thing that should make a difference is your ability to do the job. Unless obesity has something to do with the job like fitting through manhole covers, I see no problem with making it protected.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:Obesity is the Epidemic Of Our Times (625 comments)

Today, efforts to curb obesity largely involves Michele Obama tinkering with school lunches --- which is a nice gesture, but is merely a gesture.

You mean that telling kids they are required to take a fruit with their lunch (which they throw it away) isn't going to reduce obesity?

Shocking. The plan was foolproof. The fruit industry said so.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:Another Case of Life Imitating The Simpsons (625 comments)

It is a classic gag that predates the Simpsons. Classic Garfield cartoons used it, he measures 1 pound of lasagna, eats it, and the scale says he gained five. The joke probably dates back to the invention of the bathroom scale.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:What about as a lifestyle choice? (625 comments)

Re:What about as a lifestyle choice?a lifestyle choice? Seriously. Even with the negative health aspects of being obese, what if someone chooses to be obese? Sometimes there are worse problems to worry about.

That makes it easy. We already make protected classes from lifestyle choices.

The lifestyle choice to get pregnant, the lifestyle choice to serve in the military, familial status, the lifestyle choice to be homosexual.

So sure! We absolutely could consider body weight a protected class.

about a month and a half ago

EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Frobnicator Re:on behalf of america (625 comments)

Well to be fair, pretty soon employers are not going to have much choice.

Several cities are already at the 40% mark. It won't be a question of choice, the only viable candidates will all be obese.

The choice will be to accommodate and hire, or refuse to hire anybody and stall your business.

about a month and a half ago

Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

Frobnicator Re:Not just that (127 comments)

You allude to the big picture but never step back and take a look at it. Sony and Microsoft typically have taken a loss on the consoles specifically because they DO make a lot of money on games sales.

Ultimately all of them will make a lot of money. I never claimed they wouldn't.

As a game developer professionally, I love the competition. I want lots of game consoles. Since we're cross platform, I want all of them to have as many sales as they can. That's the good part for me and for everyone.

Last generation both Sony and Microsoft had a net loss on hardware sales that they never recouped in hardware. They took (and continue to take) profits from online subscriptions and other licensing.

Nintendo made more money than either of them, but all of them were profitable. Nintendo is still on track to make more money than Sony (but probably not Microsoft) because both Sony and Microsoft again decided to take a huge loss on hardware sales.

about a month and a half ago

Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue

Frobnicator Re:FWIW (364 comments)

And the fact that they call that "broadband" is reprehensible.

As slashdot users, most of us understand that 'broadband' refers to frequency, not speed. Broadband is different from baseband, in that they use their spectrum differently.

DSL is broadband by definition. It doesn't matter if they give you a 1kbit connection or 5GBit connection, it will remain broadband as long as the frequencies are partitioned in that way.

about a month and a half ago

Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

Frobnicator Re:Not just that (127 comments)

So you have something that may appeal to more traditional players, but it is in a low-end console (compared to the current generation). On top of that, the controller is driving up the price of that console quite significantly. Instead of having a low end console at half the price of its competitors, you have a low end console at 3/4ths the price of its competitors. Is it any wonder why it is a hard sell?

Except that it is still cheaper to manufacture than either the PS4 or XBox One.

Although the manufacturing contracts and specific details are not known, the estimate is that Wii U hardware is currently roughly net positive $350M. The XBox One hardware is approximately net loss of $350M, and the PS4 is approximately net loss of $750M. Sony and Microsoft are hoping losses will be recovered with software and online subscription fees to recover the losses, but Nintendo doesn't really need it since it is just extra profit.

So even though by count the two devices are tied, the Wii U is over a half billion ahead of XBox One, and a billion more than the PS4.

Again: Hardware sales are tied, but Nintendo has a BILLION dollars more in net funding from race.

When you are making a profit on every unit and your competitor is making a loss on every unit, why would you object very much when the competitor takes the lead on number of units?

about a month and a half ago


Frobnicator hasn't submitted any stories.



From an article about the degradation of the Internet

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 10 years ago

You sell a simpler box where security is the primary factor. A lot of grandmas and older people might go for something that only does AOL, mail, web browsing and maybe printing and digital photos.

That might solve part of the problem (consumer side) but not the issue that the article was about. It does not solve the real issue.

Making a grandma-friendly, secure, e-mail and download-only box would not do what the article suggests is happening. It might keep grandma from getting infected with the latest worm, but she will still get progressively less useful bandwidth from her modem. Grandma might have a 256Kbps DSL modem. She might even be fairly lucky and after dropping the malformed packets and garbage already out there, get a 200Kbps rate right now. But next year it might be 150Kbps, then 100Kbps as a few million script-kiddies are scanning for the next generation of BackOrafice trojans. Then she'll go buy a faster connection, because her Internet connection is slower than she wants. Her new connection will give her more visible speed, but would still be dropping a majority of the packets.

I've seen the issue first hand. I'm with a small business, where we have a shared T1 line. Our upstream provider performs some packet filtering, but not much. After we pay for the data through our T1, we filter it. We drop malformed packets, packets from reserved and unassigned addresses, source-routed packets, and so on. We detect and block portscans and other obvious attacks at that point as well. We average a 7-10% packet loss through that filter daily. Next, we run SpamAssassin at a high filter level (15) along with attachment and virus blocking of emails, which collectively drop thousands of e-mail messages daily. Additionally our computers are running ad-filtering programs that save us a lot of bandwidth, but ads still slip through.

If we were to assume that all the ads also got through, that is about 20-25% of our bandwidth wasted in complete junk, and that percentage has been increasing for the past two years that I have been watching it. Next we have a bunch of legitimate, but unwanted, traffic. That includes file sharing and trojan ports, incoming http, mail, telnet, DNS, ftp, rpc, and other assorted ports. We get a few hundred of these each day, and the number is always growing. Some might be people in the company trying to use NetMeeting or something, even though it is against policy. Some may be legitimate errors, while the remaining others are probably probing for systems to attack.

The article says that the problem is this growing collection of junk -- currently about a quarter of our bandwidth -- which will quickly kill the Internet unless there is a change.

Unfortunately, I agree with the author of the article; unless we see some fundamental changes, it will become unusable. There are a number of good ideas already out there as to what that may be.

One idea that I like is to remove the anonymity of end-to-end, while preserving the end-to-end functionality. Every handler of every packet signs the packet, and drops packets from sources they do not trust or with invalid signatures. The sender cannot deny sending the message, each handler signs the packets and cannot deny that they handled it, each handler can state that they directly know who they received it from, and that all end-points can verify the sources. That allows any message not properly signed and not properly addressed to be dropped, and allow for law enforcement or system admins to find out who the attackers are, or exactly which machines have been compromised.

The only significant drawbacks to that system are the resources involved in all the digital signatures and the loss of anonymity. I can only see a few reasons for anonymous speech (whistle-blowers, victims of crime, etc.) but there are other anonymous outlets for them. Online, I think non-repudiation should be built in, so long as you have encryption tools available. Your boss/government/police/mafia could know that you said something, but not know what it was.

Until that level of fundamental infrastructure change spreads across the Internet, making a grandma-friendly Internet console isn't enough. The DDoS attacks on everything from spam blacklists, litigous companies like RIAA and SCO, honest mistakes like U. Wisconson's time servers, and script-kiddie behavior will continue to degrade the Internet. The spammers clogging up mailboxes and usenet will degrade the Internet. Tomorrows worms, along with todays worms on unpached systems, will continue to degrade the Internet. More people with cable-modems downloading movies will degrade Internet performance. In short, continuing our course will be just a little worse until we hit a very-near critical threshold. Then our performance will be like a figher jet slamming into a wall of jello. We need to change course, or face some serious performance losses.



Musings about a Corpus of Truth

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 11 years ago This is just some ramblings based on views.

I've had a problem with the corpus of facts that people are willing to allow in their arguments lately. These in turn lead to stupid arguments, that lead to my compliants. So here are the complaints.

The first is:

Mankind has been wrong about science for all of recorded history, why are some people assuming that the newest theory is the absolute, final, last word?

Science is a progressive refinement of ideas. There was a time when the public believed that that maggots came from rotting meat and that frogs came from mud around lakes and streams or that they came from rain. Given the corpus of facts that they could work with, those were perfect, scientific beliefs.

The corpus of truth, or the accepted facts at that time [through Europe, at least] included only what could be viewed by the naked eye, and what was accepted by the Church. Since the Church probably didn't have much to say about maggots and rotting meat, it was a simple observation that (1) you had rotting meat, (2) maggots appeard, therefore maggots came from rotting meat. Similarly, (1) While at a pond there were no frogs, (2) It started raining, (3) the area got muddy, (4) frogs appeared. Sure, modern science has pretty much cleared up the origin of maggots and frogs, but it doesn't stop there.

Newtonian physics was around for quite some time, and they have been succeeded by similar equations based on Relativity. These are being further refined today. But these refined models will probably be succeeded in a few decades by yet another model that more accurately describes the Universe, and our current views will be considered 'Wrong'. But that won't mean that Newtonian models will suddenly stop working, or that the Einstienien models will stop working, just that there are more accurate models that can be used.

The point is that our current scientific views should never be taken as the absolute fact of the thing, but just as another iteration that is better than what was there before. Each of these 'facts' is added to our corpus of truth, which helps us better understand the things around us.

This leads to my second complaint,

Some people claim "Religion cannot be demonstrated by Science". That is a stupid argument.

This comes back to the corpus of truth. What are you willing to give me in my corpus? If you give me only the things I can observe with my naked eye and bare hands, I'll prove that maggots come from rotting meat and frogs come from either rain or mud. But with only my bare hands and my naked eyes, I cannot prove cellular theory, or astronomy, or even how reproduction works. If you give me only what can be observed with the naked eye and manipulated with bare hands, it becomes difficult to prove religion.

If you take one simple thing from a mathematician's corpus of truth, let's say the definition of equality or the definitions of addition and subtraction, they will lose all ability to operate. Sure, it is possible to prove addition and subtraction with advanced math, but that math cannot be proven without addition and subtraction. Similarly, if I require proof that a number is always equal to itself, but I refuse to allow any definition of equality, I can destroy all of mathematics.

The point here is that all science is based on postulates. Things that cannot be proven for whatever reason but are accepted as fact anyway. For most people, things that can be directly observed are postulates -- you cannot prove that what you saw is actually what happened, or even that you observed it, but you accept that it is what you observed, and that it is correct.

If you give just enough postulates, those can be expanded to a corpus of truth that can demonstrate the existance of a higher power.

Finally, there are the people who never accept into their corpus of truth anything that contradicts their world-view.

These are the people I most feel sorry for. Yes, there are many things out there that I may disagree with, but I am willing to accept as a theory into my corpus of truth. I may not accept it as a fact, but at the least, I will accept that you accept it. But as is the way with science, contradictions in your corpus of truth must be resolved, or at least marked as 'further research required' before being accepted as fact. When enough evidence is collected to resolve the things to fact, Science is content.

So to the people who assert that Aliens are near Earth, that Alien UFO's abduct people and return them after performing whatever experiments they had in mind, I look at the body of observations that counter them. Air traffic controllers around the world would likely detect such a vessel. Millitaries and governments would quite likely have seen them. Their motion would be seen by astronomers of all kinds, those paid for by governments, by corporations, and by schools, the students and private researchers, and arm-chair scientists. Anything trying to cover it up would be improbable (not impossible).

Of course, I DO beleve in UFO's. They are simply that -- unidentified flying objects. Individuals cannot identify them. Governments deny them, and often for good reason. Many people saw classified aircraft and the governments denied their existance until they unveiled them publically. These were UFO's. Many people have been exposed to (in many cases illigal) radition tests or toxicity tests or other experiments that governments have denied, only to admit to decades later. Yet other things are not easily explained by governments, but by bizzare acts of nature. Lakes turn over, and can even explode. Mists of a dense fog, carbon dioxide, can form naturally and flood towns with death.

While these things may not be easily explained, theories can be developed, and they can be enterered into the Corpus of Truth, to be later accepted or denied.

But now I have looked at my watch, and looked at the time. I don't want to accept the consequences that my Corpus of Truth says I will likely face if I spend more time on this article, so I am finished now.



Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 11 years ago This is here so I have a journal entry.

For anyone interested, the nick "Frobnicator" is a derivative of "frobnicate", which I haven't heard before. I started using the nick in 2000. I take it to mean 'one who frobnicates'. Here is the definition:


/frob'ni-kayt/ (Possibly from frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to frob, but "frobnicate" is recognised as the official full form). To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other 2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also sees the construction "to frob a frob".

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a continuum. "Frob" connotes aimless manipulation; "twiddle" connotes gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting; "tweak" connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant "frobnosticate" has also been reported.

Between '95 and 2000 I used the nick "Ixion" based on the Greek mythological king who did some pretty nasty things, incluing try to bed a god, and was punished.

Before that I went by "Zug", which I got from my older brother, but had to stop when Warcraft II came out and used "Zugzug" as a quote from one of their characters.

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