top TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers
Cthulhu Cthulhu C[sigterm]
top Old School Sci-fi Short Starring Keir Dullea Utilizes Classic Effects
I watched the film, despite the long commercials. Essentially (for me) it is was a waste of time.
A good scifi film should raise interesting questions (what is "intelligence", "human", "purpose"...) To some degree this film tries to achieve this. A computer more-or-less becomes self-aware on a long-dead spaceship. Okay, good start. However there is no point to it whatsoever. The computer sits in a chair and thinks and then watches the spaceship explode. Questions about why would someone send a (presumably) research vessel aimlessly into deep space, why design an AI that has no mission to accomplish (no programs, projects, repairs to do?), why did the crew die of old age (advanced spaceship and no cryo-storage?). Come on, a generational spaceship with crew being born, trained, and dying would be better. What destroyed the ship at the end?
I feel this film is a weird cross not of 2001, but of "A.I." (where the entire point is to see the robot play out the end of humanity to far-future space aliens discovering the ruins) and "Silent Running" which details a man trying to save the last bio-habitat space station by sending it out into deep space before Earth can destroy it. At the end of the film he hides the habitat in deep space so Earth can't find it, and beyond their reach. So effectively it is the same thing as destroyed, and pointless.
The commercials were more interesting than the movie. The film technique may be impressive and noteworthy. However to me I'd rather watch a film with so-so technique that is entertaining (ex "Avatar") vs something that is avant-garde and boring (ex: "HENRi", "Blue")
top The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record
Studies have been done on this before where the data was "managed". Certain readings that would show no temperature increase were not included citing "old equipment" or claimed that data was not relevant to their sample set. Certain instruments that would not support a desired result would have the equipment moved from the sheltered spot it was in to a much hotter area, for example over asphalt. Environmentalist have also been caught in changing the temperature reading on certain devices to be more favorable, which they called "statistical normalization" and "variance correction". Somehow this doesn't happen to equipment that supports their conclusions. Environmentalists can have the data show anything that they want.
top Mass. Supreme Court Says Defendant Can Be Compelled To Decrypt Data
Bestcrypt (commercial-ware) also has the functionality to hide an invisible second encrypted partition inside a first. It seems to be the best alternative to TC.
top Despite Project's Demise, Amazon Web Services Continues To Use TrueCrypt
TrueCrypt was trusted because the source code is/was open source, the binaries could be checked, it used respected algorithms, and had few flaws. Yes, there was minor fixes that could be done to make it more secure, and there are methods to defeat the keys (Flash freezing the ram chips in the computer to preserve the stored keys is one). But TrueCrypt reigned supreme with the cost-reputation-cryptostrength score.
Of course, according the (canary) Truecrypt homepage it recommends BitLocker by Microsoft, which few people take seriously. Microsoft recently peeked at its employees private hotmail account, and is known to include features in its OS to make NSA happy as well as copyright holders.
What alternative is there to TrueCrypt?
top Turing Test Passed
Anyone have a link to the transcript of the conversation? It is easy to say the Turing Test has been been passed, but how well it was passed will show in the quality of the conversation.
It could easily be:
(Human) How are you doing? (AI) Whatever. (Human) Yeah, don't I know how that feels. Did you watch the game? (AI) Nah. (Human) Man did you miss a great game. What are you into? (AI) I like playing with my Gameboy (Human) Cool. Which game? (AI) Whatever. (Human) Wow, sounds like you're really into it. Are you winning? (AI) Nah.
The quality of the conversation does matter when calling a "Pass"
top Norway Is Gamifying Warfare By Driving Tanks With Oculus Rift
The first thing that I thought of when reading the article was the scifi novel "A Boy And His Tank" (Leo Frankowski), or maybe a slight echo of the ending of "Ender's Game" (In short, both follow the plot idea of "Yeah kid, this is a neat game. Blow them up!! Great job. Next battle, um, simulation, is tomorrow."
Let's see... computer simulated fighter combat (drones), computer simulated tactical combat (robo-soliders), computer simulated tank combat... Meanwhile Iran hacks drone into following its orders and land (oops). May the best hacker win.
top 5.1 Earthquake Hits California
Seriously, is this news? I've lived in California and minor-moderate earthquakes are no big deal. Californians cause about 5 minutes of excitement where everyone runs outside (you don't want a house falling on you), and businesses evacuate (don't want heavy equipment falling on employees or customers), and traffic slows and stops. Afterwards it is not news even for Californians - it is business as usual.
According to the CA Department of Conservation - "Each year, California generally gets two or three earthquakes large enough to cause moderate damage to structures (magnitude 5.5 and higher)" and this from the USGS "Each year the southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes; the majority of which go unnoticed. " Seriously, minor / moderate earthquakes in California is not news.
In related news:
There are strong wind gusts in Chicago It is really cold (19F) in Anchorage, AK People traded *billions* of dollars in stocks and securities on the New York Stork Exchange on Friday Somewhere in the US there is a thunderstorm, with lightning bolts containing approximately 1 TW of power Most cities has di-hydrogen monoxide in its food that people are eating right now. The LD50 (median death dose for 50% population to die) is only 90 ml/kg.
Wow! California has an earthquake? Next you'll tell me that a Democrat got caught taking bribes, that a Republican got caught saying something stupid, that a Hollywood movie star got caught behaving badly, and that someone rich just did something like a giant telecommunication merger to make them richer!
top Massive Storm Buries US East Coast In Snow and Ice
I currently live in Pennsylvania (near Allentown), and used to live in Atlanta. I've driven in snow in both states, and snow is definitively worse in Georgia.
Sure PA gets more snow than GA will. Before any snowstorm you will see salt spreaders on the road dusting the road, and huge snowplows can be seen idling in the median of the interstates waiting for the snowfall. PA gets snow every year so PA does have the resources. Drivers in PA know how to drive in snow. I don't know how people in Wisconsin do it, but in PA it is not 10 miles under the speed limit. I've been on the interstate (speed limit 65 mph), 2 lanes, but almost everyone is in 1 lane, and traffic moved at a steady 20-25 mph. (I 81N today, between Frackville and Hazleton). Cars stayed in the tracks of the car in front, and left plenty of room between cars. Driving slow and careful and taking longer is better than driving fast, skidding out, and not getting there.
When I lived in Georgia it rarely snowed. I grew up in Cordele (watermelon capital of the world). I remember only about 2 "snows" in about 15 years, each less than 2 inches. Georgia naturally does not have the snow moving equipment that the northern states do, quite logical, not really needed most of the time. The roads are not designed as well for snow (ex, the I 75N / I 85N merge in Atlanta, with the merge lane in the middle. People on 85 trying to go right for the exit ramps, people on the right trying to go left to avoid the fast lane exits) A lot of people in GA have lived in states that get lots of snow, so GA drivers do know how to drive. Tire stores in GA do sell snow / traction / anti-skid tires. It is just that they don't have enough recent practice with snow driving.
I've heard the joke that in northern states that snowfall of 6 inches or so doesn't make the news and it is business as usual, while southern states will close school with a 1/4 inch of snow on the ground (yes, that happened once in GA). But without the salt, grit, roads with lots of bends, and lack of practice I wouldn't want to drive in snow in GA.
(As a side note, Georgia roads have the definite advantage of not having a many potholes as Pennsylvania has, the pothole capital of the world)
top Celebrating Dungeons & Dragons' 40th Anniversary
You stand in front of the Cave of Alborath, and the signs point that the orc raiding party definitely passed this way. There is a fresh orc-clan sign written in blood to the left of the cave entrance. You hope that the blood is not of the town captives that you seek to rescue.
From the cave mouth comes a slightly rotten stench. Light from the late afternoon sun allows you to see about 30 feet into the cave (60 with infravision) and you see a rough opening about 10' wide, with a 5' wide path around the larger rocks, strewn with fist-sized rocks fallen from the cave roof.
How will you proceed?
top Will You Even Notice the Impending Robot Uprising?
I for one will welcome robots and will welcome them eagerly. One I want to shovel snow. One to drive my car while I get a few extra minutes for sleep. And one more to mow my lawn (yes I know several has been invented, but cannot be distributed due to legal concerns).
top Comet ISON Survives Perihelion (Barely)
If ISON can survive its pass through the corona of the Sun, what else is possible?
Will it be possible that Democrats and Republicans work together for the nation?
Will RIAA/MIAA admit that they have been wrong and allow that piracy in fact is not as harmful to the music industry as they have said? Will sheeple wake up and take charge of their lives? Will Thanksgiving day shoppers will be calm, patient, and polite? Will my boss give me a raise?
Yes I know people say "A snowball's chance in Hell", but a snowball just did... So will these now happen?
top 23% of IT Workers Spend Thanksgiving With Coworkers
Here in the United States it is coming close to Thanksgiving, a holiday to visit family and be thankful for our many blessings. However corporate culture, as a part of our-business-is-a-family mentality likes to do pot lucks. I will encourage and support anyone that wants to have the pot luck on company time as long as the company does not make me participate. I, like many people, do not regard my co-workers as a "family". I don't feel like investing extra money to feed these people in the name of company-is-family and "team building". I'm not a hostile employee but I realize that the company regards everyone as a replaceable cog and a lowest-cost expense. Of course I realize saying anything like this to our company would cause me to be fired. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this.
Here's hoping you have a great Thanksgiving, and spend it with those that matter - your real family.
I submitted this as a submission a few days ago, and didn't get accepted... ah well.
top Piracy Rates Plummet As Legal Alternatives Come To Norway
I know... let's say a friend... that found some software too expensive *cough* Photoshop Dreamweaver *cough*. That "friend" would download from torrents the extended-demo, unlimited use, no-license, kinda-free version of the software. This was the way it was for a long time. Then the company that sold the software offered a cloud-based subscription program that was much easier to afford and budget. That friend wiped out the kinda-free version and is now getting a subscription based software. This has relieved a lot of worries (viruses, audits, software-phone-home, updates...) for that person.
about a year and a half ago
top The Plight of
Star Wars Droids
It is just a droid, an overblown piece of hardware programmed to make human responses but lacks the essential (for lack of a better word) soul. Please refer to this
IKEA commercial about a lamp being heartlessly being replaced and thrown away
I do not mourn for the uncountable destruction (the word death implies life) of droids, just as I will not mourn the computers that I have used and now need to replace. I do not apologize to computer code when I delete entire subroutines. I don't hold funerals for burned out light bulbs. This is not because I am a uncaring and heartless person but because these items were never alive.
Let's take it one step further. In most computer games people will happily shoot, zap, blast, and run over NPCs and "monsters" in order to reach the goal ("Kill the boss!!!") There may be a few overblown people out there that say that such games makes people psychotics and real-life mass murders. Most reasonable people know better. There is a big difference between the programmed emotions of a game character and a real person. I would agree that these NPCs are designed to be destroyed (again, not die), but so be it, and we happily line up to play these games and do so ("Die you $#$@$ Zerg!!!")
There are some people that cannot draw this distinction between life and non-life. Some people committed suicide after watching Avatar because they wanted to live in that polished fantasy instead of gritty reality. Some people mourn the plight of poor C3PO and wonder about the abuse of Droids. Such people I feel sorry for.
about a year and a half ago
top I am fairly prepared for a storm outage of ...
I did research what I should stock up on. The companies that sell a years worth of emergency food I thought was a bit expensive. I did consider rice, as well as plain flour, cheese (does not spoil, protein), beef jerky (really nice, but max life 1-2 years), peanut butter (surprisingly nutritious, protein), but eventually choose oatmeal. Oatmeal you buy in the store has a 2 yr expiration date on it. Realistically though it is probably closer to 10 yrs as long as you keep moisture away. I bought my oatmeal from a company that ships in 50lb bags, and it cost about $1/lb (excellent). If you pack it into airtight white plastic bins, flush out the oxygen with nitrogen to prevent both oxidation and mold/fungus, and seal it tight it will probably last decades.
The only nutrition source that I could find that has a longer shelf life than oatmeal/rice is pure alcohol (ethanol). The purer it is the longer it will last. Beer (properly handled) can last for years, wine and whiskey for decades (maybe centuries), and pure ethanol will last until the container breaks or until used. However alcohol is not a practical main emergency source of nutrition.
I have thought it through. I live in rural Pennsylvania, and the area around here has plenty of rabbits (yes, rabbits). For just that reason I bought a slingshot. I considered getting one of the Theraband enhanced monster slingshots but decided Theraband degrades too quickly, and is just overkill for just trying to kill a rabbit. I ended getting a really nice slingshot and am most pleased. Nice thing about slingshots is that ammo (pebbles) is plentiful. Even better is that a slingshot is nearly silent and attracts little notice. I did take test it when sitting in a chair by our small (too small) garden, and yes, slingshots definitely kills rabbits. Padding the diet with rabbits will stretch my supplies by some.
I imagine that if the need comes, after a month eating oatmeal it will get tiring and bland, but it will beat starving. Hunger makes almost any food taste good.
about a year and a half ago
top I am fairly prepared for a storm outage of ...
I have about ~1000 lbs of oatmeal in the basement (under the concrete slab of the garage) (repacked, resealed, and filled with nitrogen gas), 2 cases of mufti-vitamins, crackers, and sugar. I've also have 2 solar cell kits, Fresnel lenses large enough to create a low-grade furnace, several packs of batteries, blankets, a fairly good med kit, and bleach. Needless to say I've got guns, ammo, and weapons.
This is a *minimal* list. I do not discuss it with my neighbors though the UPS guy probably knows from the deliveries, and the government probably knows since they can look at my credit card purchases without a warrant. This is not really enough. It is enough to *probably* help my family to survive for 3 years if the United States has a serious financial / social meltdown. I started about 2 years ago and adding to it every 2 months.
If things do go very bad (and I think there is at least a 10% chance of a collapse), I plan to keep my family alive and healthy. As far as everyone else goes, sorry, no. I can watch them starve outside my door, and I am prepared to greet them, look them in the eye, shake my head and say that I don't have any stockpiles.
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
about a year and a half ago
top The Text-Your-Parents-Your-Drug-Deal Experiment
I'm in my 30s and thankfully both my parents are still alive. With the small insight my age has given me I am increasingly grateful for the endless s*** my parents had to put up with (which I'm not going to list). My parents are nice enough to not rub it in my face now that I'm somewhat wiser, and in return I try to demonstrate that maybe I learned from it.
Now days if I get a call from my parents wondering if I could look at their PC and fix it, or teach them (again) how to use MS Word templates, or needs ANYTHING, no problem - I am there. I don't say "I'm kinda busy, and my kids have the flu..." (Cat's in the Cradle (no I don't have kids, I read slashdot)). I do it with a smile. My Mom says she would appreciate it if I would call more often, like once a week, I call, even if I don't really have anything interesting to tell. Because she asked.
Doing this false drug prank would be the worst kind of crass. It is taking the love and concern that a loving parent has for you, mocking it, and using it against them to cause them worry, concern, and pain. Then saying "Ha ha!! Just a joke. Got you!!!"
Kids now days... Did I just say that? Geez I'm getting old...
top Did B&N Pass On the 6.8" E-ink Screen That Kobo Snapped Up?
Actually the ability to store 28000 books is far more useful than E-ink. Gone are the nerdy days of me lugging around heavy backpacks of books and enduring the jeers of high schools jerks. Gone are the awkward days of carrying several tech manuals into the office and seeing the confused looks of co-workers not in programming dept wondering why I'm bringing in so many books. Gone are the days of lending a book to a friend and never getting it back (having to choose between friend and book I'll choose having a friend and just buy the book again). Those days are gone because I have my Nook.
Can you honestly say that the E-Ink feature (which improves readability in *extremely* bright conditions) outweighs the the convenience of having a lot of books available to me anytime?
top Did B&N Pass On the 6.8" E-ink Screen That Kobo Snapped Up?
Nope. Pennsylvania, USA (40.6N according to Google Earth). Cloudy no more often than most other places. In fact this is the same latitude as Spain and Turkey both of which are very bright sunny places.
Where I'm at it is a bright sunny day today with a few scattered clouds. And my Nook without E-Ink can still be easily read in my sunny backyard without problem.