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Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society

Nishi-no-wan FanBots are in Korea (31 comments)

[...] robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

Um, those are for the Hanwha Eagles in Korea, not Japan. Confirm by clicking the link to the BBC article.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Node.js vs. JEE/C/C++/.NET In the Enterprise?

Nishi-no-wan Throw Angular in the Mix? (304 comments)

I've been primarily working with XML databases (eXist) on the back end the past several years. But the need for doing more client-side work (via JavaScript) has been increasing. Having dealt with Microsoft's weekly build breaks in IE 4 (I seriously had a list of build numbers from each week that different customers installed IE and a different aspect of my web application broke), and their inability to follow the ECMAScript standard, I've gone very grudgingly back into the whole build apps with JavaScript movement.

What I would like to be able to do is write XQuery on both the server and in the browser. The Sausalito made that promise, but it just never felt quite right to me.

Node and CouchDB together appear to do the same with JavaScript, and with impressive results from what I've seen. I've spent a long time evaluating it and a few other frameworks for a future project, but the surprise find for me has been AngularJS.

Having been raised with MVC back in the 1990s in C++ and Java, there has just been something about AngularJS that has totally clicked with me. I can take a bit of the load of rendering pages away from the XML database backend and use static HTML pages in the dynamic fashion that was promised since Netscape Navigator 2.0.

It's been nice doing everything in a single language - XQuery - for the past several years. The Model is XML, the View is XHTML and JSON output, and the Controller is XQuery. All of it running on the server side.

The division of labor in AngularJS feels right to me. It's organized well. (Part of that organization appears to be a reliance on Node for project management. So understanding Node is useful, even if you're not going to be running from a Node HTTP server.)

about a year ago
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UnGrounded: British Airways Attempts to Bottle Some Startup Spirit

Nishi-no-wan Missed the Problem (128 comments)

It appears that they're all trying to find technical or social engineering methods to get females interested in STEM subject. My daughter is very good at math and science and would like to explore the field more. But with college a couple of years away, the main issue is money. How are we going to pay for her to go to a good school where she can explore STEM subjects more?

She thinks that she wants to go to the U.S. to study, but as soon as recent help for student aid was announced, the prices at most colleges went up to match it, especially for out-of-state / out-of-country students. The in-state tuition was a bit pricy for a good STEM university, even that is crazy now.

about a year ago
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Compared to my immediate peers, my typing

Nishi-no-wan Age or Keyboard? (240 comments)

I've found that I do have more errors that I used to as I type. And my speed is not nearly what it used to be. However, I easily out-type news reporter friends of mine while chatting (both on computers - not mobile). They write a couple of articles a day. Shouldn't they have more key presses than a coder?

I'm blaming the newer keyboards for a lot of the increased errors that I feel that I'm hitting. Keyboards from the 1980s just felt a lot better. You had to have intent to hit a key. That doesn't seem to be the case any more.

about a year and a half ago
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How To Sneak Into the Super Bowl With Social Engineering

Nishi-no-wan Accident (164 comments)

I've done this by accident a number of times at both the Asia Series and World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome. Thinking back, all I did was have a general admission ticket on a pass carrier around my neck and just walk into the press area while nodding to the guard at the entrance. I was supposed to meet some friends there once, but they got stopped by security. "What? This is a restricted zone?" I had no idea before then that anyone wasn't allowed in there.

I guess it goes to show that if you really believe you belong somewhere and look the part that few will challenge you.

about a year and a half ago
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Nonpartisan Tax Report Removed After Republican Protest

Nishi-no-wan Re:Post-truth politics (555 comments)

I'm just surprised that it's taken everyone this long to see these tactics in politics. Microsoft has been teaching them these techniques for over a decade.

about 2 years ago
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Microsoft Urging Safari Users To Use Bing

Nishi-no-wan It Comes Down to Trust (266 comments)

It all comes down to trust. Who do I trust?

  • Microsoft? No way!
  • Google? No reason not to.

You couldn't pay me to use a Microsoft service of any kind. I overwrote my last Microsoft partition at the stroke of midnight, January 1, 2000. My computer life has been so much more aggravation free since.

about 2 years ago
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An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through

Nishi-no-wan NEC 8201 (93 comments)

I had the Japanese equivilent, the NEC 8201. It was my first computer, bought with my summer job money when I was in high school. I took that with me everywhere, typing in programs from monthly Japanese computer magazines (learning programming and how to read Japanese at the same time).

I still have my 8201, but it doesn't boot up any more. I wish I understood hardware, because I'd really like to let my kids get a feel for what computing was like 28 years ago.

more than 2 years ago
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Hacking the Nissan Leaf EV

Nishi-no-wan Home Battery (199 comments)

There were articles earlier in the year saying that the Leaf could be used to power the home in case of emergency, or to give back to the home that is powered by the sun by day and Leaf at night. I asked a guy at the local Nissan dealer when I took my La Festa in for a checkup if I could just have the battery system without the car. He looked at me strange and asked why? I told him that I was looking into alternate energy systems (wind and solar), but none of the solar packages being sold store the power; they all redirect it to the grid. I've researched storage systems, but everything I've found were a mess of old car batteries arranged in serial and parallel. If the Leaf has a single package that can easily connect to the home to charge and discharge, it would be a great help here in Japan since Fukushima went down. (This was still several months ago when energy restrictions were still in effect.) I don't think the guys at Nissan know what a great little package they have there for other uses than to power a car.

more than 2 years ago
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ISPs 'Exaggerate the Cost of Data'

Nishi-no-wan Just Look Outside the U.S. (173 comments)

Countries outside of the U.S. have no problem offering high speed unlimited data at affordable prices without any of the problems that the U.S. carriers are claiming. And the best deals are often on mobile! And, yes, there is heavy audio and video traffic in other countries as well.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Learn New Programming Languages?

Nishi-no-wan New Languages (772 comments)

I started learning XQuery (for native XML databases) before turning 40, but it was after turning 40 that the whole beauty of the language overtook me.

There still aren't that many XQuery programmers out there, and their demand is on the rise. So learning a new language with a lot of potential and very little current competition may be what you need. Your functional programming skills will be very helpful with XQuery.

For starters, the Open Source eXist DB project is great for getting up and running with a native XML database and using XQuery. There are a lot of tutorials, deep documentation, and a very responsive mailing list.

more than 3 years ago
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Huawei Calls Charge of Unfair Government Help 'Hogwash'

Nishi-no-wan What is fair? (90 comments)

I remember Lee Iaccoca in the late 1980s going before Congress asking for tariffs against Japanese automobiles because, "It isn't fair. They [the Japanese] work harder [than Americans]." I was shocked and bewildered by his statement. Is he saying that working hard gives one an unfair advantage over the lazy? Is he telling Congress that Americans are lazy? How can that be an argument against anything?

When I see someone whining about things that are "not fair," I can't help but remember Iaccoca's plea.

more than 3 years ago
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Anonymous Denies Targeting Westboro Baptist Church

Nishi-no-wan Movie Plot (212 comments)

Sounds like the plot to Pacific Heights. I didn't really like that movie just because it sounded too plausible, like too many people would run out and try it.

more than 3 years ago
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Bing Is Cheating, Copying Google Search Results

Nishi-no-wan Getting Around robots.txt (693 comments)

I disallowed MSN bot via robots.txt many years ago. Shortly after Bing started up, I started getting hits coming from Bing. I checked their forums to see how to disable Bing from crawling my site, the instructions hadn't changed - disallow MSN bot. Each time MSN bot came along, it got robots.txt, then apparently went away (that IP address didn't repeat).

Since I couldn't stop Microsoft from linking to my site, I got my revenge a different way. I wrote a filter to check the referrer; if it came from Bing, I redirected to Google with the same search parameters. Most come back from Google a minute or two later (after their confusion wears off?).

I don't care so much about the legality of what Microsoft is doing. It's just plain wrong in my book, and I'll happily lose potential hits to my site to see to it that they do not benefit from this underhanded behavior.

more than 3 years ago
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Someone cooked with their USB ports, Awesome

Nishi-no-wan Cook yourself with AA batteries (4 comments)

Connect a steel nail with wires to the two ends of two 1.5V AA batteries. Try to hold onto the nail with your bare hands. You won't last long.

more than 2 years ago
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Stewart and Colbert Plan Competing D.C. Rallies

Nishi-no-wan Re:Kudos (696 comments)

Gee, I hear Louis Black when I read your post. You didn't spit all over the screen as you typed that, shaking a finger every now and then, did you?

more than 3 years ago
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Apple In Talks To Bring $0.99 TV Rentals To iTunes

Nishi-no-wan Outside the U.S.? (274 comments)

The article fails to mention anything about the annoying problem that all of these services (iTunes included) don't allow those of us outside the U.S. to view any of these shows. Stupid exclusive deals for possible future foreign releases prevent worldwide distribution and force many expats to turn to bit torrents.

If it's greed that drives the producers (and copyright holders), I do hope that they someday realize that they can earn more by allowing people outside of the U.S. timely access to their shows through legitimate channels (like iTunes, Hulu, etc.) than through exclusive tie-ups with other dinosaur companies that think the same way they do.

about 4 years ago
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So where are my technology e-books?

Nishi-no-wan O'Reilly E-Books (1 comments)

Looking at the online catalog on my iPhone's Stanza e-reader, I see O'Reilly E-Books download-able directly to the app. As it says on the O'Reilly Getting Started page:

When you buy O'Reilly Ebooks through Stanza you can start reading them right away. You also get full access to the complete "Ebook bundle" at any time, which includes EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket formats, to work across a variety of devices. You also get free liftime updates.

You just need to look around a little more. What you're looking for is being provided from the publisher who know the techie best.

more than 4 years ago
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Do You Provide Tech Support To Friends and Family?

Nishi-no-wan Gladly - but Not for Windows Users (606 comments)

I provide technical support gladly, but not for anything having to do with Microsoft Windows (or any other Microsoft product).

When my mother-in-law bought a new computer to replace her crashed and aging one, she Skyped me to find out how to get her Word Perfect to work on Vista, as well as how to get her old printer and image scanner to work. I asked if she still had the old monitor, keyboard, and mouse? Then I ordered her a Mac Mini and told her to return the Vista machine. (And threaten to have the saleman brought up on criminal negligence for selling a Vista machine to her in the first place.)

She was able to get it hooked up and working on her own, and after helping her download OpenOffice to read and edit her 20 years of WordPerfect files without problem, there really hasn't been any need to provide support. And we still hear (and see) from her every week or two on Skype. She's also telling me of some of the things she does with iPhoto which I'd never done.

My advise to the rest of the family to fix their problems is "get a Mac."

more than 4 years ago

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How Does Bing Get Around robots.txt?

Nishi-no-wan Nishi-no-wan writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Having received a large number of people to my site who don't know what a FAQ is recently, I was combing through my access logs and found a growing number of people finding my web site from Microsoft's Bing search engine. That's odd. I've got msnbot blocked in my robots.txt. A scan of the logs show that msnbot (and its variants like msnbot-media, etc.) continue to check robots.txt, but nothing else. So how did Bing index my site?

Here are my current theories:

  • Ignore robots.txt and index anyway (unlikely)
  • Use semantic web technology like Google Wave's spell checker to infer things about my site based on other pages' links to it
  • Use information "phoned home" from users' browsing (Microsoft's EULAs allow for it)

Ignoring robots.txt is the most straight forward, but also the least likely. While they may "accidentally" index forbidden pages now and then (see the Bing forums - they do), even Microsoft's evil has its limits.

Besides that, a Ms. W. from Murphy and Associates on behalf of MSN Live Search contacted me over a year ago requesting that I allow msnbot to scan my site. I kindly said, "No thank you," and listed just a few of the crimes against humanity (most in the 1990s) that directly effected me and let her know that I couldn't be paid to help Microsoft in any way, including allowing their search engine to index my site. Quality over quantity.

I tried contacting Ms. W. after finding all of these Bing referrals, but either she is no longer with them or would prefer not to get involved in my dispute with Microsoft. Nonetheless, I have made an effort to remind Microsoft about my policy, and that I an none too pleased that they are still indexing my site.

But if they aren't doing it through the straight forward method, then how?

Well, the recent Google Wave spell checker demonstration had me thinking of other uses of semantic web technologies. It seems to me that much can be inferred about blind spots on the web if a grip on the context of pages can be made. So without indexing my pages, the links that use my site as a primary source can contribute to an inferred index about what my site contains. The text of anchor tags that link to my site would be an excellent source for high quality query keywords, linking directly to the most relevant information.

(Sergey, if you aren't working on such technology, I make no claim to the ideas here. They seem like a natural extension of your Wave spell checker work. Please just be sure to exclude links to any pages a site's robots.txt forbids. We don't want to start being evil, now.)

This theory is certainly doable. And even Microsoft techies can index links from indexed pages and put them into the results page without much trouble. And having no conscience to speak of, they would never think that maybe they should cross check robots.txt to prevent unwanted indexes from happening.

That leads to the third potential method of gathering information, the EULA. Many people have discussed Microsoft's ever changing End User License Agreements for their products, and how much information they allow Microsoft to gather about their users' working habits. Pretty much everything now "phones home" with information that Microsoft will tell you is meant to make your computing life better.

Well, with "permission" from millions of people to track their browsing habits (through IE, their "security" offerings, or even special proxy servers of partner ISPs), Microsoft wouldn't have to crawl any sites. They could just let their users browse the web and send back just the indexes. How much is currently understood about what Microsoft products are sending back to Redmond?

Of the three methods, the first strikes me as unlikely; the second is the most interesting, and most Googley; and the third strikes me as the most likely thing that Microsoft would do. It's all perfectly legitimate.

Well, it's legitimate except that I would rather not have Microsoft benefiting from any work that I do. I have tried to contact one of their agents to let them know I am none too pleased with the current situation, but I was ignored. And signing up for an MSN Live account to post on their Bing site isn't going to happen - I refuse their EULAs across the board.

So how can I get Microsoft to pay attention? For the time being, I'm rerouting all traffic with REFERER containing "bing.com" to Google. There are worse places I could send them, but I don't want to be cruel.

So, are there any other ways of getting around robots.txt do you think Microsoft employs? What other remedies are there to prevent Microsoft from using such circumventions?

In the mean time, here's the enjoyable Bing Bang.

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