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Comments

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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Just Some Guy Re:News at 11.. (633 comments)

Copyright infringement is theft because it denies a copyright owner the ability to sell the product for which they have the copyright and thus they lose money.

Thanks for the nostalgia! I remember when people tried to claim that with a straight face back in the 80s, but no one believed it even then. Can you imagine that someone actually said that ridiculous crap in seriousness once? I'm glad we've moved past those ludicrously mind-bending contortions and can laugh about them now, knowing full well that no one actually thinks that way anymore.

2 days ago
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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Just Some Guy Re:News at 11.. (633 comments)

Sharing: Willingly giving a portion of your possessions

Bzzt. I can share hugs, music, friendship, laughter, pain, and joy with others, but I wouldn't call any of those "possessions".

to another, denying you use or benefit thereof.

That presumes scarcity. If I share your post on Twitter, you are not deprived of it. Neither would I be.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

Just Some Guy Re:Your job (227 comments)

Whatever the environment, there are jobs that require someone just to be there waiting for something unusual to happen. Even in the nuclear missile bunkers, I bet they spend about 95% of their time sitting around waiting for an alarm they hope never comes. You can only clean so much before it's time to lean. So what if OP works in a clean room? I bet there are plenty of "I'm paid to sit here" jobs in there, too.

2 days ago
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Microsoft Files a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For Activating Pirated Software

Just Some Guy Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (268 comments)

Why not? Why should the creator not be able to impose any restrictions they damn please?

Largely because of the first-sale doctrine, which codifies property rights sanity: if you sell me something, it is now mine, not yours. I can do whatever I want with it. Use my spatula as a screwdriver? Use a thermos bottle for a hammer? Watch scenes in a movie out of order? It's none of your business. I bought it. It is now my property, and I'm free to do with it as I please.

(Averting pedantry: of course that doesn't involve violating copyright. Straw men will be ignored.)

about two weeks ago
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Apple DRM Lawsuit Might Be Dismissed: Plaintiffs Didn't Own Affected iPods

Just Some Guy Re:The best (141 comments)

Burma Shave.

about two weeks ago
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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Just Some Guy Re:100 TB @ 100 MBit/s == 12.5 days (528 comments)

Hell yeah, I'll admit that I am King of the Geeks. Talk nerdy to me.

OK, OK. I'll double-check with a calculator that's not "bc" before publishing. I've done enough physics work, though, to trust that 1) calculations showing explicit conversions are almost always correct, and 2) calculations that don't almost never are.

about two weeks ago
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Why Apple, Google, and FB Have Their Own Programming Languages

Just Some Guy Proud tradition (161 comments)

Like when Bell Labs developed C to write Unix? There's a long tradition of major companies coming up with new languages to scratch an itch. Thank God is hasn't died. How boring to live in a time when we'd decided that there was nothing left to innovate?

about two weeks ago
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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Just Some Guy Re:100 TB @ 100 MBit/s == 12.5 days (528 comments)

For nontrivial math, I don't always trust Google's interpretation of the question to be the same as mine. That page is a little short on details of what it's actually doing. On the other hand, WolframAlpha is really good about showing its work. I just always forget that it's there.

In either case, yeah, I like doing it the hard way. Or as I call it, "learning" or "practicing".

about two weeks ago
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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Just Some Guy Re:100 TB @ 100 MBit/s == 12.5 days (528 comments)

Your math's a bit off: (10^14B)*(8b/1B)*(1s/100000000b)*(1h/3600s)*(1d/24h) = about 93 days

about two weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Just Some Guy Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

Moore's law describes the number of transistors in a package, not linearly their size. Doubling the number of transistors means that each one has to be 1/sqrt(2) as big as the old version, and that to-the-11th would be about 1/45th as large, not 1/2048th. That's still pretty dinky.

about two weeks ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

Just Some Guy Re:Why program in Python (277 comments)

They think it's great because, in a tragic case of hilarity, jumping into code with minimal design is what python is great at.

We think it's great because, among other things, it has first-class functions and a very high code:boilerplate ratio. This lets us write very concise, readable, and maintainable code.

If you're a diligent programmer in python/php/javascript/etc then, in each function you write, you're going to double-check that the type passed in is correct, anyway.

Eww, no. I've never seen good Python code that asserts types because it's not the idiom for you to care. For instance, suppose you write a function like:

def get_contents_of(obj): return obj.read()

In this case, obj might be a file, or a web request, or a string (via the StringIO interface). Who knows? Who cares? As long as obj.read returns something, it works. BTW, this is supremely nice for unit testing when you don't really want to hit an SQL server 1,000 times in a tight loop.

Now, you could write something like assert isinstance(obj, file) to guarantee that you're only dealing with file objects. Of course, that lays waste to the whole concept of duck typing and people will laugh at you for doing it. So dropping that bad idea, you could write assert hasattr(obj, 'read') to ensure that the object has the needed methods. But why? Python gives you that check for free when you try to call the method. Let it do the heavy lifting and concentrate on the parts of the problem you actually care about.

Exceptions are one of the worst things to have become common - an "error" is almost always only caught outside the scope that it occurred in, hence the stack has already been unwound and thus there is no sane way to fix the error and retry the operation that caused the exception.

Yeah, that would be terrible. You almost never use them in Python like that, partially because Python tends to have a vastly shallower call stack than, say, Java (largely because you don't need 10 layers of abstraction between bits of code thanks to the duck typing we just talked about).

I think it boils down to you not knowing idiomatic Python. That's OK. I'm ignorant about lots of things, too. But I think you'd find that you enjoy it more if you stop trying to write C or Java in Python, because that almost never works out well.

about two weeks ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

Just Some Guy Re:Why program in Python (277 comments)

I agree, but remember that Python is interpreted in exactly the same way that Java is: both compile high level code to bytecode and run it on virtual machines. PyPy selectively uses LLVM to compile that bytecode into assembler for some enormous performance boosts, much as the Java JIT compiler does.

about two weeks ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

Just Some Guy Re:Why program in Python (277 comments)

Whatevs. I co-built a web service on Python that handled 250,000 requests per second with a horizontally scaleable design. We could bump that up to 1,000,000 requests per second by deploying 4 times the servers (which isn't as easy as it sounds because most things don't scale out well like that). I left that company and went to another employer that handled "only" 80,000 requests per second, averaged over a month. If you can ditch the chattiness of HTTP, well, I've written single-threaded UDP servers in Python that could handle 200,000 requests per second per server. How fast do you want it to be?

Unless you're seeing extremely low numbers or your design requires vertical scaling because it was architected in 1965, choice of language isn't all that important. Ruby is slow, too, but Heroku manages to shovel the data pretty well.

about two weeks ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

Just Some Guy Causality? Who knows? (277 comments)

I love Python because it maps very neatly onto how I model problems in my head. I'm not averse to using other languages, but Python is my comfort zone because Guido and I apparently think about algorithms in the same ways. As it turns out, I make a decent living with it.

So, do I have a good job because I know Python, or is it because the thought patterns of the people who are drawn to Python are the same ones that companies want to pay for, regardless of language? If the former and you want a good job, then by all means learn Python. But if knowing Python is just a side effect of the properties that employers are actually looking for, then it's probably not going to help you all that much.

about two weeks ago
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18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Just Some Guy Re:Well, obviously (446 comments)

I have a cheap combination lock that lets me set my own "key". This isn't exactly alien technology, and I think a judge would be able to see the analogy.

about three weeks ago
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Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly, Less Infectious

Just Some Guy Re:Raining on the parade (172 comments)

Nuh Uh! I vecame vegan, don't eat any fat or salt, take 10 different maintenance drugs every day, and live in a safe room except when I go to the doctors. I'm gonna live 4-evah!

Do you also have a fixie? If so, $5 says you're a software engineer at a Bay Area startup.

about three weeks ago
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18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Just Some Guy Re:Well, obviously (446 comments)

"We manufacture locks where the end customer makes their own custom keys. We don't know what key they might have made."

about three weeks ago
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18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Just Some Guy Re:First (446 comments)

You can install a firmware that is compiled from the open source you trust.

Ken Thompson had something to say about that. Are you hand-compiling that OS using your own tools and not the vendor-supplied toolchain?

There is still the possibility of hardware level backdoors, but there are a 100 different manufactures of Android devices, many of them have little to no presence in the USA

...and are largely from countries with no cultural history of valuing privacy. Now instead of being suspicious of Apple or Microsoft, you have to be suspicious of 100 individual vendors.

Versus Apple, Microsoft, etc who are easy targets for US courts orders

...and US court lawsuits. For the first time maybe ever, it seems like the non-geek people around me are starting to get why security is important and are taking it seriously. Apple and MS have a lot more to lose than $RANDOM_CHINESE_VENDOR who can still sell their bad-American-repped $30 phones in developing countries if they're kicked out of America. Take away Apple's North American market and they'd fold overnight. They've been bragging about their security and crypto for a while now to the point of making it a marketing point, and breaking their promise to consumers would likely be catastrophic.

about three weeks ago
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18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Just Some Guy Re:First (446 comments)

Security by obscurity doesn't count.

about three weeks ago
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Football Concussion Lawsuits Start To Hit High Schools

Just Some Guy Re:Let it die. (233 comments)

Then schools and colleges can get back to academic disciplines.

Like basketball, which will suddenly explode in popularity. Or you'll have an elite rowing team picking on freshmen. Perhaps a thug squad of a lacrosse team.

If football were to go away tomorrow, I promise you something would replace it, and quickly.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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SCO On The Ropes

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Just Some Guy writes "The SCO Group just published their SEC Form 10-Q Quarterly Report for July 31, 2007. In summary, they really needed a victory over Novell that didn't come. In their own words, "[as] a result of both the Court's August 10, 2007 ruling and our entry into Chapter 11, there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern." Other highlights include:

Revenue from the UNIX business decreased by $2,704,000, or 37%, for the three months ended July 31, 2007 compared to the three months ended July 31, 2006 [...]


and:

Revenue from our SCOsource business decreased from $31,000 for the three months ended July 31, 2006 to $0 for the three months ended July 31, 2007.


Are we close to the end of the saga?"
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SCO No Mo'

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Just Some Guy writes "The other shoe has dropped; SCO has filed for bankruptcy. From their press release: "The Board of Directors of The SCO Group have unanimously determined that Chapter 11 reorganization is in the best long-term interest of SCO and its subsidiaries, as well as its customers, shareholders, and employees."

Although they "want to assure [their] customers and partners that they can continue to rely on SCO products, support and services for their business critical operations," they later go on to say that "SCO owns the core UNIX operating system", contrary to findings in the SCO v. Novell court case. It's not advisable to take their words at face value."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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PyCon 2011

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I am in Atlanta for PyCon, and you're on Slashdot reading about it. So there. Neener neener neener.

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I think they're trying to kill Slashdot.

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I seriously believe that someone is trying to sabotage Slashdot by making it decreasingly pleasant.

Exhibit A: the new-and-busted discussion system. I actually like it more than the old way for reading comments, but for writing comments it's almost maliciously bad. The new system's preview button is much slower than the old way, and the mandatory waiting time between posting comments is a lot longer than it used to be. The net result is that whenever you're eventually allowed to click the "Submit" button, if your comment doesn't go through immediately, you're stuck staring at a pink error message until the countdown is finished. The only thing keeping this tolerable is that you can middle-click on "Reply to This" to open the old-style comment form in a new window, but I don't know if this workaround is going to be left in place long-term.

Exhibit B: Idle. This is truly the worst interface I've ever seen on Slashdot, from the painful color scheme to the tiny fonts to the difference between the markup used in comments between Idle and the rest of Slashdot. For example, the <quote> tags are treated like <p> in Idle, so there's no visible difference between text you're quoting and your own words. I don't even mind the content so much because it can be an amusing diversion, but wow, the implementation is just terrible.

No, I contend that the new changes are deliberately designed to drive away readership. I don't think that the Slashdot admins are incompetent, so I'm convinced that this is on purpose.

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Avoid the Ramada

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This isn't tech-related in the least, but my family just got back from staying at the Ramada Inn in Kearney, Nebraska. It wasn't pretty.

Not that Kearney is a likely destination for Slashdotters, but for those who might find yourselves there: you've been warned.

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Tuning Slashdot, part 1: Relationship CSS

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Refactoring relationships

Right now, relationships are embedded into the comments section of story pages with tags like:

<span class="zooicon"><a href="//science.slashdot.org/zoo.pl?op=check&amp;uid=198669"><img src="//images.slashdot.org/fof.gif" alt="Friend of a Friend" title="Friend of a Friend"></a></span>

This is ugly for a few reasons. First, it's a mess. Second, it means that every visitor has to have their own custom-rendered comments sections so you can't apply aggressive caching to the page-generation code. I would replace this with per-user CSS.

First, create a CSS file for each user like this:

/* Default class */
a.relationship {
background: url(neutral.gif);
width: 12px;
height: 12px;
display: inline-block;
text-decoration: none;
}

/* User-specific values start here: */

/* Friends */
a.user3352,a.user42 { background: url(friend.gif); }

/* Foes */
a.user666 { background: url(foe.gif); }

Next, replace the HTML in the comments section with generic relationship information such as:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="relationships.css">
[...]
<p>by neutral (1234) <a href="bar" class="user1234 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>
<p>by Just Some Guy (3352) <a href="bar" class="user3352 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>
<p>by foe (666) <a href="bar" class="user666 relationship">&nbsp;</a> on 2008-01-20</p>

All "a" tags with the "relationship" class get the default CSS values. If there is also a corresponding "user*" selector in the visitor's stylesheet, then the values in that selector override the defaults. For a sad user with no friends, this means that everyone gets the neutral.gif icon. As that user accumulates more specific relationships, those CSS definitions are applied instead.

This benefits Slashdot because suddenly they don't have to generate a brand new comments section for every visitor. The per-user CSS would also be extremely simple to generate. In any case, it would be no more difficult than the current method of embedding all that information directly into the comments section.

Finally, those CSS files could also be cached very easily. Since they would only change whenever a user's relationships are modified, Slashdot would no longer have to query that information every single time it creates a page.

There are two drawbacks to this idea. First, there are no more alt attributes on images, so users don't see a "Friend" popup if they hover over the relationship button. If that's a problem, replace the icons with little smiley or frowny faces as appropriate. Second, it would take slightly more work to support putting users in multiple categories at the same time ("Friend" + "Freak"). The fix is to create a whole set of graphics like "friend_freak.gif" and "foe_friendoffriend.gif" and corresponding CSS classes. There aren't that many categories, though, so it would require only minimal extra work to cover every possible combination.

How 'bout it, Taco - could you use something like that? Less code, less bandwidth, and less processing should be pretty easily reachable goals.

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Get over it, UbuntuDupe

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

UbuntuDupe screwed up an Ubuntu installation almost two years ago. He still hasn't gotten over it.

UD, let me give you some free advice: move on. Really. You don't even have to admit that you were wrong. Just stop yapping about it and move on.

Do you notice that every time you bring this up, everyone opposes you? It's not because we don't like you, but because even if you were in the right (which you weren't), after two years we simply don't want to hear it anymore. Stop embarrassing yourself and let it die already, OK?

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NSFW? Fark off.

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Fark: Is read by your boss.
Slashdot: Is read by the weird guy in the server room.

Fark: Tries to be corporate friendly.
Slashdot: Links to Tubgirl.

Fark: Garfield.
Slashdot: Doonesbury.

Quit whining about "oh noes this is not teh NSFW!" If you want Fark, read Fark. This is Slashdot.

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I've been mod-bombed - yay!

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 8 years ago Within a five minute period yesterday, 5 of my comments got modded down with "-1: Troll". They were in different stories about completely different topics, but they were my most recent posts at that time.

I noticed that I've been building up a nice little list of liberal extremist freaks lately. It seems pretty clear to me that one of them happened upon some mod points and decided to spend them by modding me into oblivion.

I'm kind of flattered in a way, because they must have felt that I'm pretty important to spend their points against me. Even better, though, is this reminder that the favored tool of the liberal is silence. It's not enough to ignore opposing viewpoints, since someone else may hear them and be influenced. No, their response to someone who doesn't buy into their propaganda is to steal their voice.

On Slashdot, at least, they're limited to moderation. That's a lot better than in reality, when they'd probably scream "racist!", or "sexist!", or "capitalist!" in hopes that I'd run for shelter. That's not quite as funny.

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I Am Not This Serious. Seriously.

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 9 years ago I think I may have to take a break from Slashdot.

Why? Is is because it's eating into my work? Nah - I have plenty of long compiles that allow me to waste a few minutes here and there. Is it because I'm actually building a "Freaks" list? No way! The fact that some people find my honest opinions too insulting to bear is kind of amusing.

No, it's because I've started Acting My Age and becoming way, way too serious.

I am not at all like my Slashdot persona. I mean, my opinions and beliefs are the same - I've never once misrepresented those - but my personality is completely different. I'm a nice guy who likes to laugh, enjoy life, and have fun. I'm almost never this intense or serious in day-to-day life, but put me in front of a comment box and I go uber-professional and detail-oriented. Those are OK traits, sure, and it's nice to know that I'm capable of logical and serious discussion, but that's still not who I am.

I even get along brilliantly with people I disagree with. Although I'm a very staunch conservative, one of my long-time good friends is a deliberately homeless tree-hugger (I mean it - literally!) who's typically into paganism, environmentalism, socialism, and a lot of other isms that I don't really want any part of. We get along great, though, and although we disagree on pretty much everything we always have a fun time in the process. Not here, though. Oh, no. For some reason, I seem to lose the ability to parse gentle sarcasm when I come here and just have to respond in a pedantically exact manner.

So, why is that? I kind of blame Slashdot itself, and its "coverage" of the 2004 elections in particular. Despite our differences, we used to all pretty much get along before then. Now our little green corner of the 'net is hyper-politicized and angry, and you can't ask for a recommendation of a nice IDE drive without being lectured about the evils of magnetoresistive manufacturers and their harm to the third-world environment.

I'll make you a promise: if you promise to lighten up and begin enjoying the humor inherent in a population of nearly a million crotchety geeks from across the world, I'll do the same. In fact, as a token of good faith, I'll be the first to try. On the other hand, if I can't pull it off, then I'm out of here. Seriously. I enjoy life too much to be sucked down into a swirling pit of Seriousness and Thoughtful Deliberation.

Let's have fun again, shall we? Wish me luck.

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Why you're my foe

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I use my "Foes" list to manage the people who've established a pattern of saying things far beyond my threshold of tolerable stupidity. It's not that I dislike these people personally but that they detract from intelligent conversation to the point that they make themselves a nuisance. I'm not going to spend mod points to silence them, because that goes against my principals (and because I'd rather reward good conversation than attempt to "punish" the bad), but I personally have no interest in what they have to say and don't want to be bothered with it.

So, I think it's only fair to tell people why I've added them to the list. I'm not going to bother with prior entries, but I will be explaining all new ones.

The first recent addition is killjoe. I've disagreed with some of his postings, but this quote is what pushed him from "people I sometimes disagree with" to "people I don't want to listen to":

As for me I think the days of the peaceful liberals are over. It's time we adopted the republitard tactics. Yes that means dragging them behind cars and crucifiying them alongside the highways.

As far as I'm concerned, people who make comments like that are ineligible for civil conversation.

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Authenticated anonymity on Slashdot

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Want to post anonymously but verifiably? That is, do you want to be able to say things that you don't want traceable back to yourself, but you do want interested parties to be able to verify that multiple posts originate from the same person?

Right now, Anonymous Coward (AC) posts are stored without any identifying information. This means that while you may divulge some important information, another person can reply to your post, claiming to be you, and contradict your statements. Example:

You: I have proof that my company is making toxic waste.

Reply from twit: And no matter what you hear, I was not fired from my last job for making false accusations!

With common software, this is almost trivially easy. The idea is to post as an AC but always sign your messages with the same GPG ID. The advantage is that you can still be an AC when it's important, but interested observers can verify whether other a given set of posts come from you.

If you want do this, here's how:

  1. Generate a GPG key.
  2. Submit your key to a public keyserver.
  3. Write your Slashdot text in an external editor.
  4. Sign the post with your "anonymous" key.
  5. Use <ecode> tags to encapsulate your signed message.
  6. For added obscurity, add "no-version" to you gpg.conf file. If you're using GPG on Linux, that string may not narrow the field of candidates too much. If you hand-compiled it on your TI-85 calculator, and you've explained to your boss in great detail how cool it is to run crypto on your calculator, then it may reveal more information than you want.
  7. Be sure to click the "Post Anonymously" checkbox!

Now people interested in such things can verify that all of your posts originate from the same person, even though they can't determine who that person is.

This isn't exactly a brilliant invention on my part; all of the pieces already existed in usable form. However, I've never seen anyone actually do this, and I thought it might be a useful idea for someone.

Caveats:

  • Assume that your IP is logged by Slashdot and the public keyserver and available to whomever you're trying to hide from by posting as an Anonymous Coward.
  • Be darn sure that you remember to check the "Post Anonymously" box or your cover is definitely blown in a big way; the people you're hiding from can now trace a whole batch of incriminating posts back to you. For example, when I first tested the idea, I made that mistake and forever ruined a key with a clever name (IMHO).
  • This method can't prove that a post did not come from you. In the example above where an anonymous twit is trying to negate your statements, your best course of action is to post a signed reply to him stating that the reply post was not from you.

A Note To Slashdot Editors

I'm not writing this to be a pain in the butt, honest - this seems like a legitimate need that I think needed to be addressed. This specific implemention relies on the idea of <ecode> tags keeping the contents in pristine condition. If people start using this, please don't change ecode's functionality so that old signed posts are broken.

A giant extra helping of karma to the authors if you add code to detect signed messages, keep a list of key IDs that've been used, assign a serial number to each one, and print that serial number in the message header of each signed message. Then, casual visitors could see that a string of messages were all signed by "Slashdot authed AC #243", although responsibilty for actual verification would still lie with interested end-users.

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Ditch "Overrated" already!

Just Some Guy Just Some Guy writes  |  more than 11 years ago Would-be moderators, get this through your head: "Overrated" should almost never be used! If you think that something moderated as "Funny" isn't very humorous, then accept that other people enjoyed it and move on. If something is marked "Insightful" but you don't agree with it, then move on. Get the point?

I always kill "Overrated" in meta-moderation. Always. Keep that in mind, would you?

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