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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

arth1 Re:Simple solution (389 comments)

I use a real computer (what's an "unreal" computer anyway?), and I paste using right-click -> "paste" or CTRL-V, or SHIFT-CTRL-V if it's in a terminal. What's wrong with that?

It requires cooperation from the program you paste into.
With X Window System where left-mouse-drag automatically copies and middle-mouse pastes into any program as if you had typed the text, you don't have to worry about whether paste is supported or not, or how it does it (Ever tried to paste from a web page into, say, Outlook, and you get an unwanted table around the paste because what you copied was in a table? Or got a font or text color you didn't want?)

With mark / paste on middle-mouse, you can be fairly certain that you only get the text you marked. And even more importantly to some of us, it works great with partially overlapping windows - just because you paste some text into a window doesn't make that window pop to the front and obscure what you really were interested in, most likely what you copied from.

yesterday
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At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far

arth1 Re:Interstellar missions... (203 comments)

This is why a desert can go from 100F to near freezing in a matter of hours when the Earth rotates and the desert is radiating heat out into space.

Deserts are not vacuums. Deserts cool down at night mainly through air convection. High altitude air on the planet's night side is less buoyant, and is replaced by warmer air from lower altitudes, and this process repeats all the way down to the surface. Katabatic winds are often a result, which the California "sundowner" winds is a good example of.
Needless to say, that isn't much of a concern for the microclimates of spacecraft.

2 days ago
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At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far

arth1 Re:Interstellar missions... (203 comments)

Deep space tends to be very cold

This is misleading at best.

Space in itself is a near vacuum, which (a) has no temperature of its own, and (b) is a wonderful insulator. Which is why a thermos uses vacuum for insulation.
Objects in space can become very cold over long time spans, as heat slowly radiates away without being replenished at the same rate. But space itself doesn't cool them down.

Voyager 1, which is the operative craft that's been in service the longest and receives the least amount of heat from the sun is, after most of the heaters have been turned off to conserve energy, running at around -80C temperatures. That's a veritable furnace compared to other older objects in space that have radiated away more heat over much longer time.

Also, you say "chemical batteries". Well, yes, it is, but this is a dry battery. The composition doesn't change with colder temperatures, unlike wet batteries where liquids freeze. Dry batteries don't have that problem, which is why it is interesting.

2 days ago
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Verizon About To End Construction of Its Fiber Network

arth1 Re:Why lay fiber at all when you can gouge wireles (191 comments)

The free market strikes again!

Let's not forget the billions in tax breaks and incentives that the telcos got in return for a promise to make sure everyone got broadband, no matter where they lived.

But will they be punished? Well, look at campaign contributions and make up your own mind.

2 days ago
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Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook

arth1 Re:Why not a full-on Linux environment? (162 comments)

If they are making it easy to run "normal" Linux, why not install the appropriate libs and allow Linux apps to run side-by-side with Chrome apps?

What are Google's business models? Ads and tracking.
Installing anything that is going to make it easier to circumvent either is not likely to happen.

2 days ago
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Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook

arth1 Re:Pedantic, but... (162 comments)

I believe I speak for everyone when I say

You must be new here.

Whenever I read the word "believe" anywhere, I replace it with "make up" or "confabulate". It helps my reading comprehension.

2 days ago
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Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook

arth1 Re:Pedantic, but... (162 comments)

You summoned him!
Apparently he doesn't have a /. account, but still is a reader.

He probably doesn't like the license for using the anonymous account, and I can't really blame him.

Anyhow, I think you're triggering a /. law here: As the mentioning of RMS in a Slashdot thread grows, the chance of Bruce Perens posting approaches unity.

2 days ago
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

arth1 Re:How to influence the innumerate with CS Ed stat (331 comments)

Thank you for correcting spelling mistake. English is not my first language.

You're welcome. Nether is it mine. Nor is it my second language.
Buorre Beaivi!

s/carrier/career/g
Anything else that I can do for you?

Save cycles and don't use the g option when not needed. With sed not being my first scripting language, I propose: /^w/s/carri/a caree/1 ;)

about a week ago
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

arth1 Re:How to influence the innumerate with CS Ed stat (331 comments)

women can be very dedicated in what they are planning. Like becoming carrier model - this too takes time and hard work.

Ah. You mean my sister-in-law. Yeah, she could have modeled for a carrier.

about a week ago
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

arth1 Re:How to influence the innumerate with CS Ed stat (331 comments)

The very best engineers, programmers and wizards are not school taught - they are autodidact.
To the point that many have a CS education, that is only pro-forma so they fulfill employment requirements.

Anyone who takes CS to learn CS is already behind. If you actually learned something you didn't already know, you probably didn't have much of an interest or a knack in the first place.

To get more [insert favorite minority] into STEM/CS, the members of [insert favorite minority] have to take an interest in it. Schools can't teach you the drive and curiosity that makes you worth keeping as an employee. They can only teach you what you can pick up in a fraction of the time by reading and playing around.

To expect to be a successful engineer because your parents sent you to UCB is as silly as expecting to be a successful musician because you took music classes. Without an inner drive and interest, it won't do much good.
And the problem is that women in general don't take a personal interest in maths, science, engineering or similar. That has to come first.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?

arth1 Re:iOS (63 comments)

Yep, this. iOS is second to none in terms of accessibility support.

I'm not too sure. Are there, for example, any Braille readers for iOS, like there is for both Windows and Linux? Or haptic mice? How about something as simple as bitmap fonts at large sizes instead of scalable fonts?
How about text-to-speech or speech recognition in other languages than the most common ones?
Or on-screen keyboards that understand more than one language at a time?

I'd say that Apple's accessibility support is superb as long as you belong to the 80% most common group. But their support of the remaining 20% is abysmal compared to the competition. The one-shoe-fits-all principle doesn't work well. With accessibility, it's better to add something that sucks but can be used than to nix it because it's not good enough. And that's unfortunately what Apple does.

about a week ago
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What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

arth1 Re:Terry Pratchett say... (578 comments)

We see things through rose tinted glasses.
When we use a language where "Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo" is a valid sentence, you got to wonder.

English, as She is Spoken, also has a low information density, in part due to the vowel falloff. Most languages have far more vowels, and distinguish I and Y sounds, and O and deep O sounds, and also allow stress on more than one syllable, or intonation distinguishing between words.

In writing, well, I think English is losing because of IMspeak. We're degenerating into a written language that's more ambiguous than precise. Punctuation is being replaced by the universal punctuation symbol "lol", case is disappearing, and abbreviations (sorry, I mean "abbrevs") are more and more used, quite often incorrectly. I'm just waiting for newspapers to pick up with articles like"us sk8 ftw lol us >> finl& lol".

But as long as Hollywood can churn out movies, English, or at least the American version, will still be strong around the world.

about two weeks ago
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NASA's New Horizons To Arrive At Pluto With Clyde Tombaugh's Ashes

arth1 Re:Not all of his ashes.. (108 comments)

Hell, personally, I'd have settled with just a plaque, but if a few grams of ash has more emotional value with some people, why not?

Because it's an endorsement of superstition, and sets precedents.

There is something after death: the lives of everybody who didn't die that day, and their descendants. The possibility that what you did in your life might have a positive impact on your survivors, that they might even remember you or your work, is the real life after death.

I partially agree. A positive impact on the future we don't get to see is a reason to live our lives well. Along with sowing our oats. But remembering me? I'd rather they spent the time on pursuing worthwhile endeavors, because no matter what people think of me, I won't know it, and it won't make a grain of difference.
Some cultures have a taboo against speaking of the dead, and I can't say I've read anything about that causing problems.

about two weeks ago
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What are you most interested in seeing out of CES?

arth1 Re:Autonomous vehicles (162 comments)

Strange that the google car seems not to be able to detect pedestrians reliable (police officer waving was an example in the link)

When an autonomous car fails to obey a police officer waving it to the side or waving it on, that's the day when autonomous cars start dying.

I expect the first police protests to be there within days, and the first fatal shooting of people in an autonomous car to be within weeks.

But the final nail in the coffin will be when a senator is stuck in traffic and misses an important flight or meeting, and discover that the reason was an autonomous car that stopped for a shoe[*] and refused to drive over it or cross the double yellow line to get around it.

[*]: It's almost always the left shoe. But it could be a teapot.

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

arth1 Re:Low turnout is not caused by the voting process (480 comments)

Because early voting doesn't exist, right?

Early voting can be changed up to election day. Just because you forced me to send in a vote for your kook, doesn't mean that my vote really will be for your kook - unless you keep me captive until election day, I can change it.

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

arth1 Re:Secret Ballot? (480 comments)

This is a problem that has been given a lot of thought, since voter intimidation has been a real and harmful issue.

And it still is, especially now with "e-voting". Abusive husbands forcing their wives and grown-up children to vote, for example.
Back in the old days, the worst a redneck could do was say "You did vote for Goldwater as I told you, right?" Now he can force his wife's vote to go to Jeb Bush. What a progress.

about two weeks ago
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NASA's New Horizons To Arrive At Pluto With Clyde Tombaugh's Ashes

arth1 Re:Not all of his ashes.. (108 comments)

No, just that they had emotions and honoured their dead.

Emotions are very useful, but doesn't require ascribing special properties to remains.

But I fail to see what value honouring dead has. Honouring their work would presumably lead to more progress, but honouring individuals who don't exist anymore and are never coming back, including parts of their dead bodies?
I cannot see any reason for this other than a religious superstition that there is something after death.

about two weeks ago
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NASA's New Horizons To Arrive At Pluto With Clyde Tombaugh's Ashes

arth1 Re: Not all of his ashes.. (108 comments)

Out of curiosity, why does that increase the interest?
The mission isn't going to be any different whether it was your and his name, or a random string. No-one will ever see it. How is it different from writing your name in the air? Would that increase his interest in air?

I'm honestly curious. I could see how some might be interested in having their name written where someone might see it, but this seems meaningless.

about two weeks ago
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NASA's New Horizons To Arrive At Pluto With Clyde Tombaugh's Ashes

arth1 Re:Not all of his ashes.. (108 comments)

But it is in fact different than other ash.
This ash come from Tombaugh's corpse. Other ash came from some other place.

That is not a scientific difference. Can you show how we can distinguish ashes from Tombough from other ashes?

Or, are you saying that someone pulled a switch and substituted sand for Tombaugh's ashes?

That wouldn't be too far-fetched. Other sources are more readily available, and they would need some for tests anyhow. And who would know?

Is it that you can't understand that memorials to people who do these things encourage people to try to do great things, or even do small things that matter?

Oh, I understand. And that it's a personal and/or religious thing, not something the public should pay for. If a group wanted to ship Clyde Tombaugh's remains out to outer space, and his family were good with that, let them fund it. But don't force the rest of us to pay for what's basically magical thinking.

There's not much logical difference between this and putting Lenin's corpse up for display. Except that Lenin's corpse has a higher probability of actually containing some of Lenin's remains, and those who are morbidly inclined can actually go visit it at times.

Focus on what made Tombaugh do great (or not so great) things, and not a random bit of his carcass (will those 7 grams contain more ear or more penis?). Wenerating dead bodies through public funding is religious symbolism and of no scientific value, unless someone actually studies its effect on people.

about two weeks ago
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NASA's New Horizons To Arrive At Pluto With Clyde Tombaugh's Ashes

arth1 Re:Not all of his ashes.. (108 comments)

Not to mention that they probably needed something to balance the probe anyway -- might as well use someone's ashes for symbolic purposes.

Why would it need to be balanced? It's not rotating for gravity. It would likely be better if probes are quite unbalanced, and as a result the gravity drag from the Sun would help keep it pointed in the right direction without risking rotation nor having to run gyroscopes unnecessarily.

And why ashes?
And why ashes from a particular carcass?
There is absolutely nothing special about those ashes compared to those from, say, a pig. This is religious symbolism, not science.
Just because it isn't a particular religion doesn't make it less of a religious gesture. Which, thanks to good Mr. Jefferson, should not take place on public money.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Blog pioneer WELL close to closing

arth1 arth1 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

arth1 (260657) writes "One of the first Internet communities outside Usenet, The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) is in dire waters. The owners, Salon, have laid off the entire staff, and are looking for buyers.

The WELL started out as a BBS-like entity, and proceeded through telnet to also support web and e-mail. Its web interface may seem dated by today's standards, but it works quite WELL, and was an influence on many later online communities, including Slashdot.

Subscribers received an e-mail from Salon Media Group's CEO Cindy Jeffers, stating:
"[....]as part of the company’s review of its strategic objectives, we have determined that The WELL no longer aligns with our business plans and accordingly we are exploring transferring The WELL to new management."

This came as a surprise to the employees. Gail Williams, one of the (former) employees wrote in a newsletter:

"On May 30, 2012, the community department at Salon was disbanded, and the three employees who had been working from 30% to 100% on running The WELL were laid off. We were shocked, of course."

Now is the time to make an offer to save this historic landmark on the Internet."

Link to Original Source
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arth1 arth1 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

arth1 (260657) writes "From the Bay City news wire:

"A friend of Nina Reiser, an Oakland woman police believe was murdered, has helped set up an education fund for her two young children.

Ellen Doren said people who want to contribute to the fund should make out checks to "Education Fund for Rory and Nio Reiser" and send them to Education Fund for Rory and Nio Reiser, 6114 LaSalle Ave #127,Oakland, CA 94611."


Sounds like a good idea; orphan kids are stuff that matter."

Journals

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Letter frequencies in URLs

arth1 arth1 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Doing some maintenance on a few squid cache servers, I decided to look into the letter frequency distributions for URLs, and how it matches normal written text.
Four caches were scanned for the URLs of currently cached content only, constituting around 1.5 million URLs.

In short, the results have some of the same characteristics as normal text, but with notable exceptions. You don't get an etaoin shrdlu; there are a lot of h, t, p, colons and slashes in URLs which skew the results. I'm also surprised that w scored so low, given all the URLs that start with www.

If anyone else finds a use for this, here is the data. Each character in the URL is followed by the number of times it was used in each cache, plus the total for all four caches.

/: 83198 130244 3028097 2929538 6171077
t: 73026 99729 2727455 2641930 5542140
e: 52801 95537 1746624 1753865 3648827
.: 35317 60175 1478231 1467006 3040729
o: 40941 86873 1423124 1448453 2999391
a: 43075 72450 1408451 1384211 2908187
c: 36078 64921 1308435 1295986 2705420
s: 41946 76684 1251987 1278493 2649110
p: 28248 44907 1214805 1190698 2478658
m: 29609 45768 1168769 1195505 2439651
h: 22543 41992 1029463 1019494 2113492
i: 37846 58586 974977 994693 2066102
n: 30006 51596 815477 795344 1692423
r: 26958 53239 801514 774606 1656317
g: 23689 57734 666533 790131 1538087
d: 23304 36637 746244 697523 1503708
:: 15442 27059 639115 649013 1330629
w: 25563 41061 622672 629215 1318511
1: 9697 12580 577523 561429 1161229
l: 21855 32824 560110 542960 1157749
2: 9890 13516 492565 514385 1030356
u: 11878 15246 440808 431176 899108
0: 10333 13106 404229 445998 873666
v: 7450 8415 328991 292590 637446
b: 9980 26743 280533 285767 603023
3: 6296 6905 299391 272352 584944
f: 9866 25830 265685 266037 567418
4: 4738 5931 273161 244104 527934
k: 4202 5641 235501 230456 475800
5: 5957 6920 212941 235172 460990
7: 6497 7333 230677 200956 445463
9: 4327 5215 206613 195295 411450
8: 5363 6697 210689 178565 401314
6: 5761 6487 209092 175203 396543
x: 3853 5755 168401 144265 322274
-: 3516 11325 124398 133481 272720
y: 4348 5272 114803 96971 221394
_: 2301 2683 87749 80901 173634
j: 4436 5058 89043 72567 171104
=: 1555 1437 37342 35214 75548
q: 1494 1538 32910 37861 73803
z: 741 907 29563 30037 61248
,: 3282 2848 21099 14688 41917
&: 493 413 12558 9222 22686
%: 220 460 9640 11420 21740
;: 2878 2254 8281 8281 21694
?: 322 294 4796 9264 14676
+: 45 35 1333 1758 3171
~: 31 7 996 735 1769
$: 0 0 425 670 1095
^: 6 0 420 228 654
*: 27 10 187 188 412
!: 0 2 282 122 406
[: 0 0 292 23 315
]: 0 0 272 23 295
|: 8 8 77 167 260
@: 10 0 113 38 161
(: 0 0 75 55 130
): 0 0 69 55 124
{: 0 0 75 0 75
\: 0 0 6 4 10
': 0 0 1 1 2

Does it have any practical use?
Perhaps. In proxy.pac files, a common method of load balancing based on URLs, known as the Sharp Superproxy script, is to sum the ASCII values of the cache entries, and mod it by the number of servers, to pick a server to use. .pac files are javascript, and javascript does not have an easy method to return the ascii value for a character. So what's generally used is a function like:

function atoi(charstring) {
    if (charstring=="a") return 0x61; if (charstring=="b") return 0x62;
    if (charstring=="c") return 0x63; if (charstring=="d") return 0x64;
//.....
}

This can be speeded up by ordering the list in the order of frequency, starting with "/", "t", "e", ".", "o", "a" - just moving those few to the front, reduces the latency of the script significantly.

Also, hashing in URL history handling can be sped up if the most prevalent buckets are created. This could also be useful for other URL collections, like AV software URL matching. I am unaware of any that work directly with character based lookups, but it is certainly one way to do it.

Other uses?
In pen testing, having a frequency table like this can greatly aid in URL discovery speed.

But all in all, it was a fun exercise. Note that the variations may be great, especially for the bottom half of the list. Also note that the low count for the letter 'x' in the URLs might not match your users.

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Slashdot clandestinely scanning its users

arth1 arth1 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I just discovered something I'm not sure I like.

Whenever I post something to slashdot, slashdot connects back to port 80 on the machine I post from, looking for an open proxy on port 80.
This isn't behavior I really like to see. It's unsolicited, and more to the point, it takes advantage of a local firewall possibly being temporarily open for traffic FROM an address for a short while after connecting TO it.
There might be a "good cause", like collecting a list of open proxies for the poor guy behind the Great Firewall of China or something similar, but it's still unsolicted, clandestine and not documented.

Here are a couple of web log entries showing this:
216.34.181.45 - - [10/Sep/2008:15:47:47 -0400] "GET http://news.slashdot.org/ok.txt HTTP/1.0" 404 271 "-" "libwww-perl/5.812"
216.34.181.45 - - [10/Sep/2008:20:32:18 -0400] "GET http://mobile.slashdot.org/ok.txt HTTP/1.0" 404 273 "-" "libwww-perl/5.812"

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