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Ubuntu One Hits the Million Users Mark

Trerro The numbers are probably skewed just a bit (125 comments)

"Although Ubuntu One is installed by default in Ubuntu"

So... is that one million users, or one million people who saw it installed, had a reaction of "what does this thing do, I can't tell by the name?" and ran it - once - to find out.

about 3 years ago
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E-Voting Reform In an Out Year?

Trerro Re:Yes, this works, quite well in fact. (218 comments)

Both of those 0.1% figures should say "less than 0.1%", Slashdot ate the less than sign because it apparently thought I was trying to do HTML. (Post mode was "plain old text" before you ask. :P)

more than 3 years ago
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E-Voting Reform In an Out Year?

Trerro Yes, this works, quite well in fact. (218 comments)

This is how CT does it. You bubble in the form, feed it to the machine, and if there's a close race, they pull out all of the paper ballots and recount manually.

Additionally, the state picks a few towns and a few offices at random, and has people from other towns come in and hand count the results to make sure no BS has occurred.

Needless to say, we don't get many claims of election fraud in this state.

I helped with both forms of recount, one where some guy lost by 10 votes, and one random audit. On the recount, the difference between the hand and machine counts was a single vote (which is actually amazing considering how many X'ed the bubble, checked it, or otherwise failed to read the directions). On the audit, the difference was 3 votes. Both left a margin of error of 0.1%, which is pretty damn close to perfect. Multiple recounts may be needed if someone wins by 0.1%, but that's pretty damn rare. (The guy who lost by 10 votes lost by 10/1300ish).

It's really not that hard to keep elections honest, the people just need to demand it, everywhere.

more than 3 years ago
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Japanese Government Will Censor Fukushima "Illegal Information"

Trerro Fight bullshit with data, not censorship (411 comments)

I can understand them wanting to stop all the "ZOMGOURCOUNTRYISDOOMED!" reports, but this is very much not the way to do that. If anything, it makes the public MORE scared, as they assume if you're stopping reports, you're covering up the truth rather than trying to release it.

If you want the reality known, publish the exact numbers, and make sure that creditable scientists unaffiliated with the government or TEPCO are allowed to go in there and verify your data. How much radiation is leaking, how fast is it spreading, what's the half-life, and based on these numbers, what is a reasonable safe estimate of the contamination area? How long will it take to fully shut down the reaction, and once that's done, how long before no significant additional radiation will be leaked, and therefore, how long will the existing radiation take to decay to negligable levels? Include a handy chart like the XKCD one (http://xkcd.com/radiation/), as most people have no clue what a sievert is.

Remember the swine flu panic? Remember how badly the MSM blew the details out of proportion? Remember how fast the panic died once it was clearly explained that "epidemic" doesn't mean to the CDC what is does to the general populace... and that it was just a new strain of flu, and thus nothing to worry about if you weren't worried about normal flus? People pretty quickly realized it amounted to "if you have a weak immune system or are otherwise abnormally vulnerable, get a flu shot. If not, ignore it. You might get it, but you'll get it over it like every other flu. The CDC is monitoring it on the very low chance it mutates into something more dangerous, and is increasing flu shot reserves as a precautionary measure." Sure, it took a few weeks, but the panic died once the average person had the exact numbers.

Airborne diseases and radiation are similar in that both are scary because you can't see them, and it's quite possible to die from them. The only way to fight that fear of the unknown is by making it known - full data, full facts, realistic risk assessment that neither over- nor understates the problem.

more than 3 years ago
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Do Violent Games Hinder Development of Empathy?

Trerro Re:A better study (343 comments)

They still don't. Weapon-based violence in school is extremely rare, but has always been present. Columbine got massive media attention because of the sheer scale of the attackers' plans, but in the end, the only thing that's changed is that the MSM has gotten more desperate for viewership.

When I was in middle school (I'm 27 atm if you want a time period), I threw the school bully into a display case, not hard enough to send him through it, but hard enough that he knew I could. He got the message, and he never bothered me again.

Some fights in the school did go a bit further, but the worst thing that ever happened in there was a fistfight sending someone to the ER with a broken nose. No one *ever* pulled a weapon, and plenty of students had knives, simply because this was before the age of paranoia, and a utility knife was simply a common thing to have, especially if you had shop class.

The media loves to report about the "zomgepidemicofviolence!" because it gets people to watch the show. They don't care that it turns the younger generations away, because we all get our news online anyway, and couldn't care less what the networks are showing.

Here's the raw numbers on violence when you take the sensationalist media out of the picture:
http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm
Notice the population keeps going up, while the crime count keeps going DOWN? Yeah, I'm not seeing a problem here.

more than 3 years ago
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Do Violent Games Hinder Development of Empathy?

Trerro Once again, coorelation is not causation (343 comments)

Violent people are more attracted to violent games, and as a result you will see slightly higher rates of violence amongst those who play them. This is not games causing violence.

Time and time again, they've tried to prove a link, only to find none whatsoever. The simple fact is, violent games don't cause violence any more than violent music, violent movies, violent comic books, violent regular books, or violent [Insert whatever form of entertainment people will have in 20 years that the 50+ crowd mostly won't understand here]. This same debate happens generation after generation after generation, and all that changes is what the new form of media is. Politicians like easy targets to get easy votes, and many others like to be able to blame all of society's ills on an inanimate object so they don't have to take responsibility and actually try to fix anything. Some things never change, and unfortunately, this is one of them.

more than 3 years ago
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Viral Scareware Infects Four Million Websites

Trerro Re:Totally blown out of proportion (71 comments)

Err, "preventing SQL injection is stupidly easy", rather than "SQL injection is stupidly easy."

more than 3 years ago
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Viral Scareware Infects Four Million Websites

Trerro Totally blown out of proportion (71 comments)

The submitter clearly didn't read the damn article.

All does does is force sites to display an ad for a trojan. It does NOT "break AV barriers" nor do absolutely anything to users who aren't stupid enough to actually install the software.

It's still a problem, because yes, a good number of idiots will fall for it, but fake security software scams have been around pretty much since there's been banner advertising on the net.

As for why this is hitting 4 million sites, I blame a lot of beginner tutorials, that are quick to teach people the basics of web development, but gloss over security or don't mention it at all. SQL injection is stupidly easy. Either
A:
-Call a function to escape all characters that could force the server to run entered code. In the extremely unlikely event that you're using a language that doesn't have a built-in function for this, it's not at all difficult to write your own (or grab someone else's).
or
B:
-Make use of prepared statements, and call those instead of feeding SQL directly to the server.

Either works. Doing neither is simply asking for it.

more than 3 years ago
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Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

Trerro Copyright DOES exist for a reason (494 comments)

Is Copyright out of control in this country, and frequently abused? Yes. Does it need to be toned way the hell down and reformed? Yes. Does that excuse this game? No.

Wanting to duplicate the style and basic gameplay of a game is fine. Game genres exist for a reason, and many a solid game has been made on the concept of "hey, we liked this game, but we have our own story and characters, and we're going to change gameplay elements x and y to keep it fresh". Starcraft didn't do anything especially amazing in the RTS genre, but it paired solid, well-balanced gameplay with a couple of new elements with a good story-based campaign.

Really, even a clone that doesn't really change gameplay is generally fine as long as you at least have your own story, characters, and level design. These tend to be mediocre games that few care about, but occasionally one will succeed on its story as a "meh, this is worth playing through once" kinda thing. Even if you've got nothing going for you though, your game will simply suck. It won't violate copyright.

This, however, is very much not that kind of thing. You copied the characters. You copied the exact level design. Your scoring system is identical. Your powerup works the same way, and is in the same place. You copied the gameplay down to the point that no one would know it wasn't Pacman if they didn't see the title. Well, actually, you even used "Pac" in the title, so even THAT'S not guarenteed.

That's not merely creating in a genre, nor is it even a clone. It's a flat out copy of the game. This IS exactly what copyright is meant to prevent - you profiting from someone else's exact work. Indy means nothing here. I don't care if you're 1 guy coding in his dorm room or a megacorp, you're flat out ripping off someone else's game for your own profit, and no one is going to support that.

You clearly know how to program... apply that skill to your own idea and you'll do just fine as an indy developer. You can probably even reuse a lot of that code you just wrote on a game of your own design. Alternatively, if you have no creativity, team up with someone who's great at game design and story, but fails at code, and make it a 2 man project.

more than 3 years ago
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Homeland Security Drops Color-Coded Terror Alerts

Trerro The real purpose of the colors (183 comments)

The actual point of the colors were to make sure that the lowest 2 would never be used. It was basically a constant "Everyone, live in fear!" sign. It was ignored and/or mocked by the public because pretty much everyone realized this. I can't find the graph, but someone charted the 8 years of Bush's approval rating, with the color chart on the background of graph, and it matches up almost perfectly, to the surprise of basically no one.

I'd be great if this were a 1-party thing, since then we could simply vote for the other guys, but that simply isn't the case. The Patriot Act passed with nearly unanimous approval, and while many predicted a gradual dropping of its measures under Obama, that simply hasn't happened... indeed, it's only gotten worse.

Unfortunately, while I'd love to say them finally axing this system is a sign that they realize a rational response instead of a fear-based one is what we need, I think they've simply decided that the TSA does a far more effective job of keeping everyone in fear that a silly color chart ever could. I don't know a single person that stopped flying due to terrorism. People recognized that while odds of dying to terrorists have gone up *slightly*, it's a trivial risk, much like swimming in the ocean may get you attacked by a shark, but almost certainly won't.

On the other hand, quite a few people have stopped flying because they don't want the choice of unnecessary radiation exposure or sexual assault to get on a plane. The TSA has accomplished what the terrorists only wish they could.

That's not to say we shouldn't be keeping an eye on terrorist organizations, and disrupting them when we can, but that requires actual intelligence work. The TSA is pure security theater.

more than 3 years ago
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Facebook Billionaire Gives Money To Legalize Marijuana

Trerro Taxes are a drop in the bucket (527 comments)

While the extra tax revenue doesn't hurt, that isn't where most of the money is gained on this.

Consider the ridiculously huge number of people in prison for a harmless crime, and the fact that many of them get longer sentences than rapists. Now figure out what it costs to incarcerate them at taxpayer expense. (Hint: we have 106% of Canada's crime per capita, but 616% of their prison population per capita.*) Now calculate the lost labor from having them rot in prison instead of doing something productive. Now add in the cost of paying all of those cops who do pretty much nothing but go after potheads. Now add in the huge amount of Mexican border security needed vs. drug gangs with the power of small armies, which get all their money from... yep, pot. This goes way, way, into the billions. Not throwing all that money away would make a huge difference. Any tax revenue gained from selling it legally is just a bonus.

* - Here's my sources on those 2 statistics I quoted:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita

As for the dealers selling it tax free? The dealers are out of the picture. They can't keep up with the prices a large-scale commercial operation is going to be able to sell it at. When's the last time you purchased alcohol from a dealer on the street, vs. one of the 97 gazillion liquor stores? If you're most people, the answer is "never." Now sure, some set up their own mini-distillery (or get some from a neighbor who does), and they obviously aren't paying tax on it, but that's such a ridiculously small minority that it's statistically insignificant - and even most of the ones who do that don't use it as their sole supply due to the sheer impracticality of producing large amounts of beer with something you made in your basement.

Last but not least, in additional to the many billions we wouldn't be throwing away, we'd be some lives by weakening the gangs up here, and a LOT of lives in Mexico, where the drug lords pretty much own the country thanks to the virtually limitless income they're making from US pot users.

I don't smoke pot... it simply doesn't appeal to me. However, it's actually *less* harmful than alcohol, in that it's quite possible to OD on alcohol (although you generally have to be pretty stupid to manage that), while it's physically impossible to OD on pot. As for the short-term impairment of being under the influence of either, I don't really see one being significantly worse than the other. The only issue I'd have is people driving while high, and we already have DUI laws to cover that. Just add an "or pot" everywhere those laws mention alcohol.

more than 3 years ago
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Torrent-Only Movie Denied IMDb Listing

Trerro Re:What exactly IS the fair standard? (207 comments)

Actually, the same applies. The reason Google utterly dominated the search engine market is that they were able to find relevant results to your searches in a sea of crap, while pretty much everything that came before could not. Remember the days of using "meta-search" sites, in the hopes that by querying a dozen or so engines at once, one of them would finally return a useful page?

more than 3 years ago
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Torrent-Only Movie Denied IMDb Listing

Trerro What exactly IS the fair standard? (207 comments)

Imagine if this exact same article were written, but instead of "torrent-only", it said "Youtube-only". Are there Youtube-only full-length movies of good quality that probably should be listed in major movie DB sites? Yes. For every one of those, however, there's thousands upon thousands that really shouldn't. A database of everything ever filmed with a camera would be utterly useless, because all of your searches would return mountains of crap you don't care about.

The question then is, "what standardized set of rules gets as many real movies as possible, while including as few videos as possible that really aren't production-quality, full-length movies?" IMDBs answer is "must have been shown in a theater, either the normal kind or the film festival kind". This is obviously a flawed model, since as others have pointed out already, there's 5 minute Funny or Die shorts in there, and there's many full-length movies of at least B movie quality that aren't.

Many are saying someone should make a better site than IMDB, and it's not a bad idea. If you're thinking of actually doing it though, you need to answer that question in a way that works. I personally can't think of a standard, but there likely IS a much better one than what IMDB uses. The challenge of course, more so than actually making a better site, is to come up with that standard.

more than 3 years ago
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IE9, FF4 Beta In Real-World Use Face-Off

Trerro Test is pointless (358 comments)

Chrome is faster because it massively favors speed over customization and features. FF is slower because it favors customization, and assumes, correctly, that no one actually actually gives a flying fark if it needs slightly more than a 1/50th of a second to render a page that Chrome can do in 1/100th of a second. This isn't a problem, nor is it news. Now of course, you may do the occasional task where those milliseconds actually matter because your browser is processing something enormous, but then just install both browsers, use Chrome in those rare instances, and use FF for a primary browser.

Frame rate isn't really an issue either. You can point out that the human eye sees at roughly 60 FPS, so going under 60 is undesired, but let's be realistic. Those Flash games are usually built at 20-25 FPS, because running at 60 would make them freaking huge. Video on the web likewise runs at 60 FPS roughly never, because it needs to stream. Downloaded video WILL run at 60, but your browser isn't playing that.

This doesn't mean there isn't a couple of very specific tasks that FF is abnormally slow at and could use a code cleanup on, but for the most part, FF's speed difference vs. Chrome is utterly negligible in actual use.

more than 3 years ago
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Six Reasons Why Flash Isn't Going Away

Trerro Re:Steve Job's mobile platform strategy (483 comments)

If the inability to play Flash games would be the deciding factor in not buying an iProduct, then the huge number of valid apps that get rejected from the store would have the exact same effect. I would say not only would it not spell death for the device if Flash lives on, I would go so far as to say that at MOST, they'll lose a handful of customers to it.

more than 3 years ago
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Six Reasons Why Flash Isn't Going Away

Trerro Games. (483 comments)

Got an alternative to Flash games? No? Then it's not going anywhere, period.
Got an alternative to Flash animations (not using it as a video player - actually animating with it). No? Then it's not going anywhere, period.

Yes, Flash-based layouts suck. Yes, using Flash as a video player is lame. Yes, HTML5 should eliminate any reason to do so, and yes, I hope HTML5 kills Flash as a design tool completely. However, unless someone has a viable alternative for flash animations and games - and no, no one takes Silverlight seriously - it will remain a major platform.

I'd say Jobs is shooting himself in the foot by banning all Flash games from his devices, but then the iStore is already incredibly restrictive, so those wanting actual choice are already on the competition anyway.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Has No Plans To Patch New Flaw

Trerro Careful with that idea... (217 comments)

The ATI video card I have fails hard on XP64, so I got a driver some random guy that has nothing to do with ATI made instead, and it works great. If I were stuck using only drivers that were ATI-approved, I'd be majorly SoL.

I'm all for having the hardware verify that the driver actually is a valid driver for the hardware in question, just make sure that's ALL it does, or we'll lose the ability to use someone's hack to force a piece of hardware to work.

about 4 years ago
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Sen. Bond Disses Internet 'Kill Switch' Bill

Trerro You assume everyone has control of their server (171 comments)

Most sites are running off of crappy shared hosting services, and the guy actually running the site has no idea how the server was configured, and whether current (or any!) security patches have been applied. He can do things like call phpinfo() to make sure that's at least current and intelligently configured, but he has no idea if the server itself is set up well, and more importantly, no way to fix it if it isn't.

This creates a huge problem if the server is pulled. Suddenly, all the shared hosting accounts go dark, and no one can even retrieve their site. Even assuming the site owner has a reasonably current backup, things like forum posts get lost, and the site operator is forced to send off a mass email explaining the problem (if he even knows what happened!) and then frantically try to rebuild the site elsewhere. Oh, and the hosting company usually owns the domain, so when it does come back up, he's still missing a huge chunk of his userbase.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to estimate that 90% of websites are on shared hosting accounts. Granted, it's the 90% that don't get much traffic, but every site has to start somewhere, and many simply aren't intended to be for more than a handful of users.

more than 4 years ago

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