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Mobile Phones vs. Supercomputers of the Past

Mr. Roadkill Re:Things like this... (247 comments)

I don't like where this is going.

It rubs the cardpunch on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

more than 4 years ago

The Genius of the Lego Printer

Mr. Roadkill Re:WTF (187 comments)

Also, this is just a more advanced variation of a project included with the original Lego Mindstorms kit.

This kind of thing goes back WAY further than that.

I've got a book from the mid-80's with a whole lot of C64 robotics projects in it, which features a lego pen plotter. The paper handling is more convenient - that project was a drum plotter - but otherwise, it's a variation on that basic design. In some ways it's both a step up and a step down from that project - this rasterizes everything, whereas the old C64 project could draw non-jaggy lines in any direction.

I'd say the paper handling alone makes it a step up from the C64 project in terms of convenience and usability, though. Plus, any advancements over the Mindstorms project make it worthy of attention IMHO - it's great that we can all learn from other tinkerers.

more than 4 years ago

Wii 2 Delay Is Hurting Nintendo

Mr. Roadkill Re:Gee, didn't someone get lynched for saying that (310 comments)

Interesting thought, just for comparison I did some research: it seems the PS2 has sold around twice as many as the Wii. I am not sure when the PS2 sales started slowing down, but there is definitely room for more Wii sales.

The PS2 has also been out for a lot longer than the Wii, with some super-low prices towards the end that were cheap enough to entice the late-adopters and the "I want to play $PS2ONLYTITLE - guess I'd better get one of those too" gamers.

It's also been chippable and able to take a hard drive rom loader for a lot longer than the Wii has. Hey... I wonder how much THAT has to do with the fact that Wii owners are only buying two titles a year?

more than 4 years ago

What Can Be Done About Security of Debit Cards?

Mr. Roadkill Re:Australia and Debit Cards (511 comments)

Interestingly, in Australia, Westpac has made a cynical grab for their share of the merchant fees by FORCING customers (like me) to have Debit Mastercards instead of regular ATM cards - they won't admit it, of course, but a free additional revenue stream for them has to be a huge attraction. My response, since they wouldn't let me keep my non-MC card, is to not use Mastercard side of it at all. What benefit does it give me? Nothing - it can take a few days for mastercard transactions to be properly reflected in the balance, unlike EFTPOS transations which are just about instantaneous, and I rely on that balance as a sanity-check for how much I have left in any particular week... plus I'm not the only one with access to that account, so unaccounted-for pending transactions could cause some embarrassment.

They make a huge deal out of how there's no limit to the number of Mastercard transactions per month, unlike EFTPOS ones, and cite it as a customer benefit. Their marketing drivel that came with the card stated how wonderful this was for the consumer, letting you use your money how and when you like with fewer fees (they helpfully neglect to mention that the merchant has to pay for the privilege of accepting Mastercard). They tried to avoid the subject of how somebody with the 16 digits on the front and three of those on the back could reach into my account without a PIN from the other side of the world, and wouldn't give me a plain ATM card instead - saying that it was done "because most customers want them", and they couldn't reverse it once the card had been converted over. Fuckers. Should have taken it to the Banking Ombudsman, but I just couldn't be bothered at the time.

I refuse to use it on-line or use the Mastercard facility; that's what the credit card and Paypal are for.

more than 4 years ago

Long-Running Underwater Robot Lost At Sea

Mr. Roadkill Re:Cthulhu (132 comments)

No, I suspect it was actually the other lot. That's what happens when you breach the terms of the Third Benthic Treaty...

more than 4 years ago

Scientists Discover Booze That Won't Give You a Hangover

Mr. Roadkill Actually... (334 comments)

...if I found myself suffering from methanol poisoning, and I had a bottle of vanilla essence or a tube of hand cleaner close by, I'd probably mix it with a cup of water and squirt it up there just after calling the ambulance. I believe intravenous alcohol solutions are used in hospital to treat methanol poisoning, but rectal administration is about the best I think anyone could manage safely by themselves with ordinary household items.

....FSVO "manage safely", of course. It's also somewhat disturbing that I can come up with a valid reason for a self-administered alcohol enema.

more than 4 years ago

School Spying Scandal Gets Even More Bizarre

Mr. Roadkill Re:Kiddie porn charges. (699 comments)

...and now that the cat is out of the bag, there will undoubtedly be students who will do all of that AND suck on a bong full of basil whenever they see the light come on. Entrap the bastards! "Let's see your evidence that I was using marijuana".

more than 4 years ago

UK Government Seeks New Web Censorship Powers

Mr. Roadkill +1 DoublePlusGood (187 comments)

IngSoc is now free from crimethink.

more than 5 years ago

GIMP Dropped From Ubuntu 10.04

Mr. Roadkill Re:Why I Quit GIMP After 2 Minutes (900 comments)

Note how both MS Paint and Photoshop are way MORE straightforward in this operation, and yet avoid sarcasm in their tutorials.

I hadn't seen that one before. I found it vaguely amusing, in a "Let's watch the spotty 15-year-old telling his parents that they're idiots" kind of way. And don't get me started on Doug Engelbart and Bill English actually coming up with the first mouse in about 1963 (and "Get Off My Lawn!")

I don't see the problem as the non-obvious way that GIMP goes about it, so much as the quality of the documentation. It tells me exactly what I need to know to accomplish the task and acquire new skills, and a little levity something I appreciate even in technical documentation, but this seems too condescending and is not the kind of thing I would expect to see in commercial documentation. The "lusers are idiots" implications have no place in modern high-quality end-user documentation, although as someone who has had personal experience of the "Where's the ANY key" phenomenon I can vouch for the fact that sometimes assumptions about how much the user knows can be dangerous. And perhaps, in a world where the left-shift and right-shift keys are treated differently by some software, mention that GIMP uses both in the same way is of some use...

That documentation is also seven years old, and dates from a time when the software had a VERY limited target audience; it may well have been intended as a first-approximation, a placeholder for something better that would come later (and yeah, anyone who's coded ANYTHING serious, EVER, for someone else will understand how crufty crap you aren't proud of becomes production and then mission-critical because it's "good enough" for most purposes, and the same thing can clearly happen with documentation). I understand that getting people to write documentation is hard, getting them to do it right is even harder, and that in an environment where everything is done by volunteers you sometimes need to either do it yourself or accept whatever someone else is prepared to do, but it's time for a refresh of the documentation to bring its quality in line with that of the software.

more than 5 years ago

GIMP Dropped From Ubuntu 10.04

Mr. Roadkill Re:name change (900 comments)

You think this is much better than being compared to a physically handicapped person? Face it, neither the pejorative term or the plastic string is a particularly positive linguistic association. I'm not implying that unfortunate linguistic associations are a good reason not to use a particular program, but I just don't see how you could spin this acronym to sound positive.

imp-free or impfree

Image manipulation and processing, for free (freedom AND beer)

Software that's free from troublesome supernatural entities, or at least the minor ones...

Image manipulation and processing, free from the unfortunate linguistic baggage that has plagued the project.

I respectfully submit to the community imp-free or impfree as possible names for a "branding fork"; now we just need to get the developers to take a look at what was done with Firefox et al in Debian, and perhaps what CentOS have done with the RedHat sources, for a couple of hints about what could be done to facilitate this. "The GIMP" was a great in-joke when it was a homebrew-but-crippled Photoshop-wannabe, used only by the people who wrote it, but let's face it - branding is important. If this was a commecial product, and the name had negative connotations in particular markets, they'd change it as part of the localisation.

I believe Mitsubishi re-named a particular series of four-wheel-drive vehicles for Portugese-speaking markets because driving something that loosely translates to "Wanker" was unpopular for some reason, although I can't think of any particular software examples off the top of my head.

more than 5 years ago

HP To Acquire 3com For $2.7 Billion

Mr. Roadkill Re:I was recently wondering... (231 comments)

See, i remember the 3c509's well - that's all they would support at my university (no generic isa NE2000 cards allowed in 1996...)

$ORKPLACE (a university) mandated the 3c509 because we apparantly had lots of problems getting Banyan Vines to work properly through generic NE2000 clones. When PCI came along we moved to the 905. Then we went Netware, and the on-board Intel and Tulip chips got really good, and separate NICs became an un-needed extra cost for most applications here - I could easily believe the same thing happened elsewhere, too. A couple of years ago I fished about 20 new-in-box 3c509b's from a skip; don't know what I'll use them for but they were just too good to let go into landfill, I'll probably wait until supplies dry up and eBay the suckers to the desperate if I can't find anything else to do with them.

The 905's were good - I may have one or two various revisions lying around - they always seemed to work with every OS I would ever throw at them.

They're lovely. I've got a whole stack of various revisions of them too, mostly pulled from computer carcasses because they were too good to throw away, and they're great as second or third or fourth interfaces in machines that need them.

more than 5 years ago

Malware Can Download Child Porn To Your Computer

Mr. Roadkill Re:Shameful, how? (586 comments)

there's no reason to take nude pictures of your kids running around or taking a bath. That kind of voyeurism is sick and extreme.

It isnt' done out of voyeurism, you sick fuck. Parents do it because they want pictures of their kids. The fact that kids are sometimes nude is just a natural, normal part of life.

I wonder if AC's rebuff to arekusu was posted AC out of fear for being labelled sick and extreme by a society that doesn't see any nudity as appropriate?
I don't have any nude photos of my kids, but I'll pose a question. Lots of people in the 1940s and 1950s had naked photographs taken on bearskin rugs by professional photographers - so why are their children being prosecuted for dropping off rolls of film containing a shot or two of their grandchildren playing under the sprinklers? If the test is whether some weirdo somewhere could jack off to it, I'm sure there are people out there who get their jollies imagining all sorts of things about pictures of three year olds with lollypops - and if we invoke the Quantum Fetish Theory, we probably shouldn't have any photographs of anyone under 18 at all. There's a line that has to be drawn somewhere, but I don't know if anyone can say for sure just where that should be without appearing foolish or perverted to someone else.

more than 5 years ago

Iraq Swears By Dowsing Rod Bomb Detector

Mr. Roadkill Re:Buy from the Chinese (652 comments)

C'mon, at least buy them from the Chinese for a $100 or less a piece.

The problem with that is that they'd be too cheap, and thus more difficult to believe in.

Assuming for a moment that in the hands of a competent operator these things *do* find bad stuff more often than random chance would allow, you'd want them to be well and consistently made. You would want them built by a company that didn't skimp on materials and that wouldn't make random substitutions if certain parts or materials were unavailable. You'd want them as "mil-spec" as possible, so they'd survive field service. You'd want them to come from somewhere with a little credibility in the security field, as this mob seem to have from some of the other devices and bespoke vehicles they produce or distribute - this is not the kind of thing that you could get away with buying from just anywhere, and in the absence of the ability to properly and scientifically test it you'd need to rely on the thing's pedigree to some extent.

As for the assertion in TFA that reporters managed to carry AK-47s in their car without being challenged - perhaps what's being detected isn't the physical presence of weapons or explosives, but the intent of the driver and passengers. If a driver knew they had a bomb and had a belief that the checkpoint had a magic bomb-detecting divining rod, they'd be more likely to be nervous. Perhaps these devices give the operator a little more confidence that allows them to subconsciously take more notice of other behavioural cues. If that was the case, then a driver who didn't know the vehicle was packed with explosives or a driver who was a cucumber-cool psychopath could reasonably be expected to not "trigger" the device. Similarly, someone who was nervous in the presence of people with guns and badges and roadblocks could be expected to be spotted as being "uncomfortable" by the operator - and the gold teeth and perfume false-positive stories are intended to allow the operators to continue to believe in their skills and the device. You could probably get similar results from people who were conditioned to believe they were tapping into their own psychic potential, with a couple of potential drawbacks - if they fail with a prop they can blame the prop and the potential unreliability of the process rather than themselves, and they're less likely to be killed by the oppositiion if they're not seen as some kind of magical and irreplaceable person.

Sure, it's security theatre rather than a security device per se, and in use is a cross between a confidence trick and a carnival act, but that might just get results for reasons other than its own "bomb detecting" ability.

more than 5 years ago

Toyotas Suddenly Accelerate; Owners Up In Arms

Mr. Roadkill Re:same thing happened with my old beemer (1146 comments)

and it really was the floor mat. Now I'm OCD about making sure it's in the right spot before I get in the car...

Same thing happened with my last Toyota, a '67 Corona. Turned out to be the breather tube from the rocker cover to the carbie fouling the throttle linkage and holding it wide open.

more than 5 years ago

Thermonuclear Reactor To Use Coconut Shells

Mr. Roadkill Re:Best satay ever (251 comments)

I usually cooked my satay (Indonesian/Malaysian kebab) using coconut charcoal. I am wondering what if I cook my satay on a Tokamak with that charcoal.. Yummy....

How neutricious would it be? *rimshot*

more than 5 years ago

Neanderthals "Had Sex" With Modern Man

Mr. Roadkill Re:Proof... (536 comments)

My neighbors and their four kids. Their breed mimicks Harry and the Hendersons + Flinstones meets the Coneheads.

Are you sure the parents are Neanderthal, and not just cousins - or closer?

more than 5 years ago

Microsoft Opening Outlook's PST Format

Mr. Roadkill Re:Oh no... (319 comments)

Expanding on point 2, Microsoft may want to open up the MAPI specs a little more for the benefit of iPhones and the like. At $DAYJOB, we have Exchange 2003 and a number of users with iPhones and we've seen some bizarre things happen on occasion with calendar entries (weirdness when one of a number of repeating appointments is changed or cancelled and not showing up as changed or removed on the iPhone, that kind of thing). While I'm prepared to believe that it's partially to do with Apple testing more thoroughly with and developing against Exchange 2K7, I can't help but feel that a better understanding of how Outlook communicates with Exchange and a better understanding of how Outlook represents the data internally would help other developers produce something that works better with Exchange.

And that could well be Microsoft's strategy...domination at mail-and-collaboration server end. If they open up the client specs a little more, and that makes Exchange 2010 and beyond more attractive, they've won.

more than 5 years ago

Microsoft Opening Outlook's PST Format

Mr. Roadkill Oh no... (319 comments)

Another sign of the Apocalypse - and it's a doozy. I always figured hell would freeze over before Microsoft opened up something like the .pst specs.

more than 5 years ago

Singer In Grocery Store Ordered To Pay Royalties

Mr. Roadkill Stick it to the man (645 comments)

You know, there's a way out of this. It's called EXCLUSIVELY playing material that's already in the public domain.

Sure, you won't get Top 40 crap - that's a benefit, by the way - but if you're after appealing background noises for a retail environment you'd be amazed at what's available. One of the best recordings of Rhapsody in Blue I've heard dates from 1927.

Play these recordings, arrange for somone to "anonymously" call the Music Police to report you, and when the bastards turn up simply ask them to leave the premises as you're not doing anything wrong - without explaining why you're in the right and they're not. Keep logs of what you play, and where you sourced it. Do NOT let any staff play ANYTHING else. Let the Music Police threaten to sue you. Insist that you've done nothing wrong. Let them get their lawyers involved, and let them run up some legal costs, then get the press involved.

If they're going to play stupid games like threatening action over someone "performing" songs while they're stacking supermarket shelves, they deserve everything they get. I hear there's a lot of stuff from the 40's that's not covered in the UK and Scotland any more, so that covers all the really great swing-era stuff, although I hear Sir Cliff is a little pissed about the fact that he may soon stop getting royalties for Summer Holiday and is trying to pull a Disney...

more than 5 years ago

Disney Close To Unveiling New "DVD Killer"

Mr. Roadkill Re:Can I avoid this simply by avoiding Disney? (498 comments)

I wasn't claiming there weren't ones before VHS & Betamax, in fact I specifically said there were VCRs before that. I wondered specifically what VCR Lumpy used and still had.

As do I. My post wasn't intended to suggest that you'd suggested that video cassettes started with Betamax; rather, it was intended to describe the range of possibilities - of which, on further reflection, I suspect U-matic is probably the most likely.

more than 5 years ago



SORBS to close

Mr. Roadkill Mr. Roadkill writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mr. Roadkill (731328) writes "Love them or loathe them, SORBS is about to close.

The University of Queensland will not continue hosting them, so as of July 20 2009 SORBS will close — unless they can find someone else with enough spare power, cooling and bandwidth for a 42RU DDoS target. I'll be sad to see them go; I block directly using a few of their lists, but find some of the more aggressive ones very handy for giving a little extra nudge to get spam over my local SpamAssassin rejection threshold."


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