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New Facebook Phone App Lets You Stalk Your Friends

TaoPhoenix Re:"'If you turn on Nearby Friends" (17 comments)

This feature is actually a killer app on the dating phone apps. When you're logged in it encourages meeting new people directly because the apps shows you two are close by, (or not). It's a huge icebreaker to say "hey, looks like you're about five blocks from me, wanna get coffee?"

So for the Facebook aspect I'd focus on the implementation of the Opt-In (to make sure no Facebook silliness is going on), then the key is you *toggle* it on and off all day.

1 hour ago

Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

TaoPhoenix Re:please explain this obsession w/ C64 (165 comments)

Taking you seriously, this is one of Nostalgia's finest moments.

A ton of us were *exactly* in the right range to use of the three or four Commodore comps from the mid 80's to change the worldview outlook forever. We don't pretend to do much more than hobby projects with them now. But those are the comps that *made us*. It was back when computing, and a little light hacking, was fun. The NSA wasn't (overly) noticeably destroying computer infrastructure. You could get a few long distance calls. Make a few Maze games. Make a couple of Eliza clones. Play seven Pacman clones. Ultimate Wizard. Bang out a homework essay and even get it to print.

It's about the Simpler Time. Nothing _____.

3 days ago

Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

TaoPhoenix Re:I had a 128 for a while. (165 comments)

Awww, I gotta chime in here too.

I was at the crucial intersection of age, difficulty, and timing between C64 and C128. C64 proved too difficult to Non-Genius me at 9. C128's extra commands allowed me at 12 to create some thirty programs, just enough to taste programming, but still hit Go64 to play the old games. A couple times in the passing decades Commodore Basic was the only language I could whip up a quick test experiment without learning entire new languages. RIP C128.

3 days ago

Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

TaoPhoenix Re:bar for awesome graphics is a tad higher today (165 comments)

I gotta chime in on this one.

Luckily I was a young enough whippersnapper that I didn't know better. But "Keypunch Software" took the IgNoble-80's prize.

They were notorious for using *Ascii* graphics moved by keystroke in their games!

3 days ago

Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware

TaoPhoenix Re:What version are they changing? (294 comments)

"I maintain my stance that Windows 9.5 will be the version that changes everything, with Windows 9.8 mostly getting it right."

Nice joke, but I'm actually hoping for this. It would be poetic justice.

Microsoft's new CEO (with a tough to remember name!) Satya Nadella at least seems to be coming from an engineering perspective rather than Steve B's pure marketing. So after he gets settled, I in fact really am hoping he'll be the next Dave Cutler who pulls a stunning new revision to Windows that really makes *almost everyone* happy. Then maybe it will get a Win95-98-2000-2001-Win7 type cleanup but in record time and set the tech world abuzz.


about two weeks ago

Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware

TaoPhoenix Re: The day XP Died (294 comments)

Bravo. Truly a Mod-Limit buster.

I even saved a copy to my computer. : )

about two weeks ago

Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware

TaoPhoenix Fascinating release date timing (294 comments)

It's been in development for months, but some middle manager decided that the day that XP died was the day to push this out.

Offtopic: Does anyone know of a Day the Music Died song parody called something like "Day my XP Died"?

about two weeks ago

OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

TaoPhoenix Re:Internet Exploder!? (1482 comments)

But you think you're being cute about "Internet Exploder", right?

But go visit the page yourself!

Did they get hacked? The blue link button ACTUALLY SAYS "Internet Exploder"!!?

So what kind of mixed message is that?!

P.S. I saved a copy of the page in case it's actually a hack that gets reverted later. Such reversions could be post-April-Fools...

about two weeks ago

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

TaoPhoenix Re: mimic Kate Mulgrew's voice (512 comments)

Meta joke of the day: Imagine Kate Mulgrew reciting that post! : )

She was also a regent on Warehouse 13.

about three weeks ago

Florida Judge Rules IP Address Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate

TaoPhoenix Re: In Australia (158 comments)

I swear I've learned more 4th hand about Aussie Law on Slashdot than any year in college!

So the way this site works, we get about *eleven* countries chipping in!

USA of course, Australia apparently, Germany, three Scandinavian countries, four people from China and Iran as AC, Britain, Ireland, and your choice of four more!

about three weeks ago

Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published

TaoPhoenix Re:Tolkien graphologist (94 comments)

"I'd heard that it may literally have had to do with the handwriting: the man's handwriting was, shall we say, idiosyncratic, and it takes considerable effort to decipher. His son Christopher devoted a lifetime to it. John Rateliff, who did similar work for drafts of The Hobbit, consulted with a Tolkien graphologist in the process. (He was able to get a rough dating for one scrawl based on the details of the handwriting.) The fact that there even exists such a thing as a "Tolkien graphologist" is absurdly wonderful".

Given Tolkien's use of proper nouns every twelve words, this sounds fascinating!

about three weeks ago

Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published

TaoPhoenix Re:back stories, histories, evolution of languages (94 comments)

"The fact that the Lord of the Rings has appendices with back stories, histories, evolution of languages, and sorts of other little interesting tidbits quite clearly show Tolkien was not only an author but a scholar as well."

I was of an odd age that fell between the right ages to truly appreciate Tolkien's efforts. But with a still-young appreciation for finesse, I *did* notice all those appendices. To this day High Fantasy hits a spot that I can't read, but I absolutely noticed the sixty pages (!) of appendices!

about three weeks ago

Why Robots Will Not Be Smarter Than Humans By 2029

TaoPhoenix Re:AI suffers from continuously moving goal posts (294 comments)

I agree, but to abuse a concept from intelligence, (which I also call the No True Scotsman theme), the "Singularity" is when *everybody's* partial approaches "rise and must converge" (Flannery O'Connor).

So you stick a modded Watson on General Knowledge, a chess program, a med diagnostic program, *three* chatterbots with an arbiter meta-module to sync and/or tiebreak, some special custom "awareness" modules, and your pick of twelve skillsets, 14 "hobbies", some self-mod programming, and ... you're getting something interesting. Because then you *reverse search* someone with that set of skills and ask the person, "okay, what else makes you intelligent and interesting?"

It used to be called "God of the Gaps" in religious contexts. We're way closer to it all than 2029. Since I know that 70% of y'all are way smarter than lil' ol' me, I just need "someone" ... wait for it ... ("something"?) ... to talk to.

Still calling out to work with someone on a custom modded Chatterbot. "All" we need to do is give it a bunch more modules and then we have a nice experiment on our hands, at least as good as the stuff we've been seeing in the Articles.

about a month ago

Why Robots Will Not Be Smarter Than Humans By 2029

TaoPhoenix Re:Wow, where does the hate come from? (294 comments)

Terrifyingly, "The Hate" might be one of the easier first things to simulate in AI!

The reason is that it's often demonstrated with a far lower level "skillset" than the smart comments.

See for example the (thinning?) pure troll posts here. Despite the rise in lots of other things, I'm noticing fewer pure troll posts of the worst vicious kind. I wondered idly why they got here so regularly. Anyone remember the ones that went:

"so you sukerz ya haterz loosers you take it and shove it?"

Any 1000 of you could write a 100 line program that can run circles around that!

I still do one day wish to work with any Chattterbot programmer who wants to try some custom mods.

about a month ago

Why Robots Will Not Be Smarter Than Humans By 2029

TaoPhoenix Re:How aware does a system have to be? (294 comments)

This is one of the approaches I've been poking at off and on for a while as noted in my remarks over the years in these stories.

To me an instructive experiment is to go all the way to the top and give the program some initial values not unlike Asimovian ones, and then it builds a "like/dislike" matrix of people and things.

It's not that far off from college dorm discussions! : )

So then going back to basics, you feed it info about people doing things, it runs those against its "like/dislike" systems, and updates what it thinks about "people and stuff".

This is one of the areas where Stephen Wolfram's idea of "computational complexity" starts to show up. Feed Info, Evaluate, Update Opinions.

David Gerrold got closer than maybe we think with his SciFi book "When Harlie was one". It's easy for us to get bogged down in arrogance when we have all of experience to trick the machine with Loebner questions, but if we start simple enough, a Chatterbot armed with pre-processed 100 million articles on 100,000 topics and 100,000 people and some expert systems subroutine modules starts to come close enough for me as a "useful entity" to study!

about a month ago

'The Color Run' Violates Agreement With College Photographer, Then Sues Him

TaoPhoenix Re:Superb Owl (218 comments)

Oh I know this one!

This is where that young boy becomes the youngest Seeker in school history, and then later sends messages via his Superb Owl! Then later Hermione studies hard because she wants to pass her Ordinary Wizard Levels!

about 2 months ago

'The Color Run' Violates Agreement With College Photographer, Then Sues Him

TaoPhoenix Re:If you are using "something" without permission (218 comments)

Thank you for echoing the angle I have been concerned about for a while now!

We have almost been tricked into believing there are "different classes of copyrights"!

Not counting the cases the courts have specifically ruled on, there's no intrinsic difference between a photo and a song in the copyright sense. Flannery O'Connor had the right idea: "Everything that rises must converge".

So thanks to the Music Industry deciding that Copyrights are Big Biz, then ... a student's photos are too. Check out the key phrase from the Color Run suit:
"The lawsuit argues that Jackson "gave the Color Run an implied license" to use his pictures and that it "inadvertently" used them in print promotions."

about 2 months ago

Sophisticated Spy Tool 'The Mask' Rages Undetected For 7 Years

TaoPhoenix Re:It does, usually. (No) (98 comments)

Oh hello Soulskill, nice to see you in the comments.

Unfortunately "last few days are hectic" isn't remotely close to right. Last Few Years, if you wheeled out that excuse. But no, don't do that either. "Last Few X is Hectic" is a tired phrase now that Big Bad Dice owns you and you have lots of firepower to add!

Uh... oh. Wait. I just heard 3rd hand they just decided both you AND us are ... worth zero!

So what exactly are any of us here doing with a value of Zero? Can you buy them out with a Dollar? (Rhetoric, Wall Street Shenanigans may apply.)

I'll leave the extended comedy routines to others. X of us see a value in a quiet eddy current called Slashdot. Since your value is officially zero, why again exactly are you going with Beta?

Plus, I asked months/a year ago about exporting existing comments out of Slashdot but you/They made sure that was never close to a possibility... really now? Data Capture? I calculate I have almost 100 blog topics stored in raw material here. But no. You gang NEVER made ANY easy export tools under ANY management even BEFORE Dice.

So I'm not going all Swearword-Beta. I'm attacking different problems. But still unhappy.


about 2 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

TaoPhoenix Drifting Away and a Year Off (2219 comments)

There's a softer version of the same effect ... "drifting away from Slashdot".

"Boycotting" implies passion and anger and attempts to save something.

But perhaps folks such as I will simply silently-but-surprisingly-quickly just fade away when it becomes unreadable, and reinvest the newly found time to more offline pursuits.

Maybe the analogy is Coke vs NewCoke. I wasn't around to know if there were passionate boycotts ... but my vague history of it all was closer to my attempt to describe "yuck, so I won't buy it".

Maybe a year off might be good for perspective, like an old short story called "the very slow time machine". I can see what MS's new tech oriented CEO is beginning to evolve for Windows 9, which might be near Beta by that point. Obama would be winding down on his last big initiative, whatever that becomes. The early shape of the 2016 Pres race should be clearer. "The Aftermath of Edward Snowden" might be clearer. A few cool rulings by smart judges. A few horrible ones that enrage the tech community.

And then a year into Beta ... a year is long enough for the inertia and nostalgia to fade away... so Dice will either have realized its evil plans with ... uh ... the "goodwill and intangible benefits" they just wrote down to zero ... or if as a few people are beginning to explore, if we *FINALLY* produce a successor to Slashdot, then we'll all just go there.

Heh come on, y'all are programmers - What would a *Near-Perfect* Slashdot look like, UI Wise? I'd LOVE for someone to do a mockup, even if it has some capacity issues - just for us to show *ourselves* what "Listening" means. We can solve the "staffing and picking stories" later - just do a mockup with ten stories, just so we can have the true answer to the Beta abomination!

My quick suggestions:

1. I have never ever used the left sidebar of

        Blog ...

So I'm happy if that gets hidden behind a special menu.

2. I don't use the right side boxes for very much.

3. Make comments "Level 1 2 3 4" and then the sideways space usage becomes much better.

Okay gang, see ya less for a while!


about 2 months ago



Sopa-II : H.R. 1981 "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act"

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TaoPhoenix writes "Here we go! As many of you predicted, SOPA would be rebuilt worse than ever by switching the Copyright flavor to a "Protect the Kiddies" flavor. You were right. H.R. 1981, entitled "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act", has just been sponsored by Lamar Smith, the same lead proponent of SOPA. That was fast! Unfortunately it has a built in cheapo argument ready as a talking point. It also has some nasty and costly data retention clauses that weren't even in SOPA. Are we ready to do another Blackout Day? I don't think we have too many of those left before the fragile Internet coalition becomes exhausted. So, two questions: How do we stop this bill, and how do we win a victory permanent enough that we don't have to do this every single month?
Business Insider version: http://www.businessinsider.com/anonymous-and-internet-advocates-wheres-your-hr-1981-outrage-2012-2
David Seaman's Youtube videocast http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBVqm2W56c8"

Link to Original Source

How do users download their Slashdot posts?

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TaoPhoenix writes "With the passing of the CmdrTaco era, mant of the old regulars are looking to sum up their posting careers at Slashdot. I'm sure I have a couple thousand posts and I don't even qualify for a lawn. Yet as of recently, there was no clear method in place for a user to receive all the posts in a nice text file. For a site that does detailed observations about the evils of data lockins, have other users developed a method to retrieve their posts in an efficient manner without too much difficulty?"

New Angle on the War on Terror

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

TaoPhoenix (980487) writes "The celebrations are slowing down. But Yahoo cautiously introduces an entirely new direction for the official discourse — "Frenemies". The rumblings for years "there's no way Bin Laden lasted this long without serious help" are true. The article asks the key question: "Why can't the United States just declare Pakistan a hostile enemy?" Then it treads lightly on the answer: "...(they have) the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world and a bitter ongoing fixation on the ambitions of neighboring rival India."

However, Bin Laden was the figurehead of the US decade long theme of "The Post 9-11 World". Are the reasons given enough to justify the costs, open and hidden, of that colossally expensive "War on Terror" campaign?


Link to Original Source

YROffline - SnowZilla condemned

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  more than 5 years ago

TaoPhoenix writes "Apparently generating tourist traffic to your town is less important than living on a road quiet enough to hear nature. Historic cultural landmarks deemed unsafe should be torn down rather than structurally supported. Thus local officials decide in Airport Heights, in Alaska.

Billy Powers, whose yard was SnowZilla's home, urged officials to Think Of The Children. 'The kids had spent hours and hours of work on it,' Billy Powers said on Sunday. No luck — and if he tries to rebuild it, he could be arrested."

Link to Original Source

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  more than 7 years ago

TaoPhoenix (980487) writes "The first time it happened, I shrugged it off. Now it's confirmed. My search results from Yahoo are being redirected to other sites. Can anyone else confirm this, or is it a local problem indicating it's time for me to scrub my machine?

A. Exactly two false results appear. The third time the correct site arrives, and stays stable.

B. Google has no such trouble. AltaVista, which appears to use a less tuned, older copy of Yahoo's database, also correctly delivers the link.

C. This effect is now at 100% frequency."



Aphelion SciFi Fantasy Horror Poetry Webzine in 2013!

TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix writes  |  1 year,1 day

Okay, here we go!

I shall post a promotional piece for the Science Fiction - Fantasy - Horror - Poetry webzine Aphelion.

It's been around since 1997. However we gradually lost the "regular" posters through attrition and we haven't undertaken much marketing at all. This post is "semi-unauthorized" aka ad-hoc.

This campaign:
You're one of two crews I would like to encourage to join and post a note about at least a couple of stories! They do have a focus on newer and developing writers, so go REAL EASY on the comments - if you see something that a writer could have improved, PLEASE work REAL HARD to soft-ball it!

As part of a bit of backstory that we don't need to visit here, in this somewhat fragile year it's important to get a couple of really nice newcomers, because there is a potential bit of culture clash. They do not have the Anonymous Coward theme with all that entails, nor are they in tune with our top 10 "inside jokes" such as Frosty Ps0t, You Insensitive Clod, In Soviet Russia, and many types of posts that dance around the Funny-Flamebait line here. Also be very careful with the FTFY and Grammar posts. It's true Mechanics do have a place in writing, but the usage tone culture here of those posts is generally too aggressive for Aphelion.

But y'all have modded me up a bunch of times, so I must have been interesting a few times at least, so let's really get all you geniuses to go give them the best ya got, 'cause you're all smarter than me!

This is the only High Volume promo web post I am doing right now, because it's one of only a few sites I have followed for all these years (somewhere about 8!), so I don't feel it's much to ask one Journal post to grab some of you who have been feeding me Chocolate Donut +1 upmods all these years.

I would love to get _____ number of really enthused new visitors who plan to stay for at least a few months. For a site the size of Slashdot, we'll get a decent few at a minimum, and if we have the cure for the Woes when y'all don't like This Hour's Story, we might get a lot! Let's go all KickStarter-y with some fun milestones.
17 - Just because I like the number 17, and the lowest non-insulting goal.
25 - Round Number
32 - How could we not include this one!?
50 - Round Number
64 - Another obvious one
75 - Round Number
But then it gets a bit scarce, until ...
100 - Round Number
128 - The Comp Numbers will get a bit thin in a min
200 - Round Number
256 - QuarterFinal Compy number
500 - Stretch Goal Round Number
512 - Stretch Goal Compy
1000 - Last Round Number
1024 - Last Compy number

I have no right to expect more than that so I'll start to reign all this in soon!

For you login-metrics fans, they put in an aggressive anti-spam measure in this year, but please don't go all Gamey on me and try to break it! It's meant for 4th rate twerps who went all CopyPasta at the Ragu Factory. Just play nice. But do holler to me if it causes any of you actual trouble getting in, and I'll give you a Secret Decoder ByteCoin. Signed by the Retired Lieutenant Taco Vendor from down the street. Or something.

The Lead intro page:
http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/ - typically a graphic that changes for each issue
They do a "Flip" where the current month issue is on a "hardlocked" set of links by story/item category such as Short Stories. So if you get busy, and want to go back next month, they'll be gone (temporarily!) and replaced by the new issue. There's a big topic in Archives, but that's another day.

The intro Editorial by the senior editor:

Short Stories:


"Features:" - most usually an instructional article on writing but a few other things sometimes

I would appreciate it if interested people would drop a note here too, just to close the loop so I both know who is headed over there, but also for the data check of that signup-test.

On the first two posts over there (because any single one might vanish from visibility because I am turbo posting this week!) to mention that me, Tao sent you from Slashdot. Plus it's an excuse to Cross Brand and all those other fun business terms! Go Slashdot! (Hi Dice!)

Watch the horde of smart people show up and impress the hell out of them!


Obligatory disclosures etc.
I am the Archives Editor over there, a position which involves fluidly evolving things generally oriented around fiddling with info about the magazine issues, rather than actually writing stories for them.

I apologize for the "soft links" because I don't know how to make them Clickable. But then I told ya y'all were smarter than I am!

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