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Comments

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New Mayhem Malware Targets Linux and UNIX-Like Servers

bluefoxlucid Re:Derp (167 comments)

We're getting spam here because someone, somehow, got our Active Directory mailing list out of Outlook Web Access. I know all of your admin accounts.

2 days ago
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Sony Agrees To $17.75m Settlement For 2011 PSN Attack

bluefoxlucid Re:Link to claim form? (66 comments)

Why does TFA not mention we should maybe consider a little personal responsibility, eh? What is this, you let hackers take your identity? Maybe you should have refused to provide Sony with any information that would allow them to take out loans in your name!

Oh, you have an address, and a credit card number? No social security number? Well, I guess you can spend credit card money; and the owner can chargeback the money, freeze the card, and get a new one.

Sony wants your SSN, bank account details, and DOB? Dude fuck them. Go get Wii.

The banks gave people a loan without your Driver's ID, SSN, etc? Just with your name and address? Dude, I can put an address into city services and get the names of the residents and their property tax payment dates and amounts, and any bill due. Tell the judge the bank is retarded for not getting actual ID.

3 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

bluefoxlucid Re:Code the way you want... (367 comments)

A true agile process has an incremental delivery schedule. Rather than building the full deliverable and delivering, it identifies milestones as deliverable product. For example: a waterfall process for building a car would intake requirements and output a car; an agile process would produce the platform for inspection by the customer, followed by the suspension system, the engine, the drive train, interior, and so on, in some useful order.

For a software product, this involves delivering partial functionality to the customer, who then examines it or even integrates it with his workflow. If there are issues, the functionality can be cheaply reworked; building on top of broken functionality could incur major rework when an issue is encountered, so this process actually reduces work.

Agile is not Rapid Application Development. RAD has consistently been shown to be a large joke. Agile software project management accomplishes what RAD could not.

You assume that meetings are the only way to convey requirements instead of working closely with the subject matter experts in a more collaborative manner.

If you can handle two afternoons' worth of reading, I will direct you here (technical) and here (soft skills). These cover stakeholder management, which is "working with people". Part of that is working with SMEs.

If you want to argue from an actual competent stance, you'll need to bother reading the (horrifically dry) PMBOK, fifth edition, particularly chapters 5 (scope management) and 10 (communications management). I found chapter 9 (human resource management) fascinating as well; chapter 11 (risk management) is a favorite of mine. Much of the content may sound like gibberish out of full context; reading the book from start to finish is like that, too, because they forward-reference things in the beginning (integration management immediately starts talking about the requirements traceability matrix, IIRC, which is 4 chapters later).

The short of it is: there are many ways to get information out of people. Meetings are a good method, and arranging good meetings is a skill. Meetings have three isolate purposes: to share information, to develop alternatives, and to make decisions. Never perform more than one in the same meeting; you will make horrific decisions.

To put this into perspective: We've worked closely with SMEs here, and done things wrong. Sometimes, meetings occur without the SMEs, and decisions are made contrary to what the SME recommended; others, the tech workers (network engineers, programmers, etc.) were consulted separately, and then excluded from decisionary meetings. The result is often people making decision and dropping impossible, poorly defined, or useless shit on you. Then you implement it, and they tell you it's wrong.

By the by, one of the most important features of a good meeting is it's short.

3 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

bluefoxlucid Re: Code the way you want... (367 comments)

Each claim increases your insurance premium. If I can get all your neighbors in on it, your area becomes a "high-risk area" and you get to pay $1000 extra for insurance. A difference of 2 miles for me made my car insurance jump from $90/mo to $324/mo once.

3 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

bluefoxlucid Re: Code the way you want... (367 comments)

Consultants extract money from the "job creators" and return it to the economy. Even if they did no work at all, that extraction justifies their existence.

I'm coming to your house and breaking your windows. Then you can return some money to the economy. The glazier will be happy.

3 days ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

bluefoxlucid Re:Code the way you want... (367 comments)

I never hire independent consultants. They don't understand the use of project management, and just hack things together as quickly as possible. This is, of course, compounded by management wanting to not give proper budget to work with consultants properly so that they have time to write not-shit-code.

Getting the programming consultant into meetings is the only way to get good quality work out of them. Throwing a requirements list at people doesn't help as much as folks think; you discuss that with the consultant, but you also bring them into the meetings with the primary stakeholders. That way they get to see what's going on, hear about the features needed, the use cases, and, in agile models, get feedback on each incremental deliverable. This allows the programmer to raise questions about what exactly is being asked of him, instead of just getting shoved in a room with a spec and then told him he didn't do it right--when there's 100 ways to implement what's on the spec and only 2 are apparently acceptable.

3 days ago
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Raspberry Pi Gameboy

bluefoxlucid Re:The golden question.. (60 comments)

William Strunk covered this in 1914. You're never supposed to put quotes around words like that, as it puts on airs to show the audience that you're using some vulgar slang, but we're all better than that.

Quotes are used when referencing a term. We call this "using quotes". If you otherwise "use quotes" around "things" in your "sen-tance", you look like a "huge jackass" like Dr. Evil.

3 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

When doing something not done ever before in history, you cannot rely on the plain events of the past; you can only use them as a guide to shape your attempts in the future.

3 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

Oh, you're connecting the need to work with the ability. Yeah, that's a bad assumption.

If you don't work, you live in a 244sqft apartment with 144sqft living space, the rest kitchen and bathroom. You can't buy anything good, and have to live on extremely strict finances. Luxury doesn't exist, and you probably won't have very good dating prospects; you don't have any money to go out to the bars, either.

In our current system, getting a job is a bad deal. If you have Social Security Disability Income, you can string that out forever at $676/mo. Once you get a job, that vanishes immediately; your wages are less $676/mo, because that's what you pay *every* *month* to have a job. If you get fired, you can't go back to SSDI. Same with unemployment (you lose it upon employment, and, If you're fired because you're a dickhead, you don't collect unemployment again).

Getting a job on welfare is risky, and discounts your monthly pay by the amount you were gaining on welfare. Rather than working 0 hours and getting $676, you are working 160 hours and getting $1,160. That makes a minimum wage job $3/hr, with the risk of getting no unemployment or SSDI if you get fired (you haven't worked in 8 months--do you still know how to not fuck off?).

With a UBI, you don't need to work. We don't need a minimum wage; if they don't pay you well, don't work. On the other hand, if you do work, you will always gain the full benefit of employment, and will never have your UBI taken away from you. Working is always a good deal, and gainful employment carries no risk. If you so decide, you could even live with just UBI, and provide volunteer time for the community--it won't gain you anything, but you won't be stuck inside, and you won't have to worry about your expenses because you don't necessarily need a job per se--but you have to be pretty hard core to take that deal.

3 days ago
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Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly

bluefoxlucid Re:This must be confusing to y'all (66 comments)

Except the stock has movement, and there is some probability that it will move up or down. Savvy investors have more information: they know general trends in stock movement, and can predict more accurately which way it will move. Non-savvy investors don't: they work on the principles of stability, that being that a nice, safe stock that's been climbing will continue climbing, and so they buy in as the stock gains value.

The second group tends to believe the stock is undervalued more when its spot price has climbed longer. They think it will go up forever. The first group has target prices and technical analysis, and starts to sell out at a certain point; this creates a visible stock movement that tips off more risk-tolerant investors who also do technical analysis, who sell out later. Eventually, the small-time traders who want to buy have "enough", or are out of money; the big-time traders who think the stock is overvalued aren't buying; liquidity decreases; and sale price becomes lower.

This difference in evaluation means different groups of people will think the stock is overvalued or undervalued. Even though their methods are different and their valuation of the stock is different, they're both purchasing "stock should increase in price from here". My point was that they're not investing in companies.

3 days ago
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Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly

bluefoxlucid Re:This must be confusing to y'all (66 comments)

Investing in Microsoft, Virgin, or Symantic is a diversified investment strategy. The companies operate in many market sectors, produce products across diversified markets, and supply services to everyone from miners to financials, home users to governments. Your risk is thusly spread across more than 500 companies.

4 days ago
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Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly

bluefoxlucid Re:This must be confusing to y'all (66 comments)

They're investing money in the idea that the stock is undervalued.

4 days ago
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Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly

bluefoxlucid Re:This must be confusing to y'all (66 comments)

Revenues up, profits down. Odd. Revenues up all the time because inflation.

Stocks don't reflect real business performance.

4 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

You consider a world where nobody has to work as a utopia. My observation is just the opposite. If you take effort away from people, they tend to become entitled, lazy, selfish, and (ironically, with more leisure time) miserable.

Where are you getting this from? I detect a very basic failure to either apply critical thinking or reading comprehension.

4 days ago
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Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again In Under 2 Minutes

bluefoxlucid Re:So, someone has a job where... (69 comments)

In A.I., they showed a human-like robot with personality and sensitivity to pain. It was rather complaint. To demonstrate its human A.I. features and pain response, the salesman drove a nail straight through her hand and made her scream.

4 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

In hind-sight, you probably meant foresight.

4 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

We produce Mo-99 isotopes of Molybdenum for medical use by nuclear fusion. Certain other medical isotopes of Cadmium are also produced by fusion. Doing so is simple: You produce a high electrical charge on two coils, and pump ionized gas between them. Each ion will gain 11,000 kelvin per volt of acceleration; you can readily reach 200 million kelvin or so in this way. There is a small probability of particle collision, as all ions are accelerating toward a rough center; these collisions release X-rays, neutrons, heat, and light; although x-rays, heat, and light are redundant. Collisions in this way initiate nuclear fusion.

Anti-corrosion plating for sewer pipes is not valuable? There would be less work maintaining sewer pipes! For that matter, platinum is awesome and allows a large increase in hardness of metal; tungsten also allows hardness and heat resistance; not to forget Iridium and Rubidium, both of which are exceedingly rare and highly useful. Titanium and Nickel are somewhat common, but nowhere near as common as iron.

4 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

Without energy scarcity, most can be automated. The most scarce resource is not energy--that's the second most scarce, and it's distanced greatly from the third. The most scarce resource is people who want to work for the common good, our philosophers and our philanthropists.

When we have enough energy that we only need their labor to direct largely-automated processes, we will have zero scarcity.

5 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

bluefoxlucid Re:let me correct that for you. (610 comments)

Above is a bunch of words.

To summarize: by dividing up all direct welfare costs (not including medicare/medicaid), it's possible to dole out enough money that even the unemployed have--just barely--enough money each month to obtain livable housing, food, and other basic needs above the cost of supplying these things. That makes them a target for businesses to pump them for every dollar they have, which is easiest by supplying them with the things they need.

I've worked out that it's feasible. I've largely worked out where the money comes from. I've avoided risks in calculations by deliberately tilting the error out of my favor, so any uncertainty is opportunity rather than threat. I'm now working on implementation and transition details, and playing with the numbers to generate charts and graphs and interesting points.

Eventually, this will become presentations, speeches, and campaigns. I have time: the basic welfare concept is an unconditional basic income, which is gaining mind share; I've begun the refinement of a welfare plan that exchanges our system with a UBI-based system, designing both the transition and the final state to maximize stability and success.

If it works--and it's almost certain to work, if only I can get it implemented without tinkering (lowering/raising the benefit, feeding it from a graduated tax, etc.)--it will provide a stable welfare system with no welfare traps, immunity to income inequality (it simply doesn't affect the amount of tax collected and the benefit paid out), robust against economic damage (such as the mid-2000s financial market collapse), and resistant to consequential effects of free money (if UBI is too high, you start encouraging inflation--far too high and you get hyperinflation; the system collapses before the benefit is high enough to reduce work incentive).

The obvious result is nobody needs a job. Life is not pleasant unemployed, but you're not going to starve to death sleeping in a puddle of your own piss in an alley. Scarcity won't threaten *living* day-to-day, because you can always eat and always go home out of the rain.

By the by, I've learned that *knowing* the solution and *implementing* the solution are two different things. This ranges from knowing that it's possible, knowing how it's possible, but not knowing the details; to knowing everything but not knowing how to make people do it; to knowing it all, having the opportunity, but being unmotivated to make the time or take the effort. This is most hard when trying to change the world: everyone wants to just tax the shit out of the rich, but, when you're working for the greater good, the first person you should ask something of is yourself.

5 days ago

Submissions

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US Currency Finally Achieves Universal Suffrage

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 4 months ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "On April 2, precisely one day later than expected, SCOTUS voted 5-4 to eliminate the cap on individual donors political campaign contributions, finally granting universal suffrage to US currency. "Now, at long last, all U.S. money has a voice in Washington—a strong, loud, clear voice that can no longer be suppressed or silenced by anyone.”"
Link to Original Source
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Retro-Bit's Retro Duo: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 4 months ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Retro-Bit is serious about conquering the living room: the American technology firm has launched Retro Duo, a gaming console that not only allows 16-bit game play, but also 8-bit. That 8-and-16-bit capability makes Retro-Bit a threat to Nintendo, which rumors suggest is hard at work on a software implementation capable of doing the same things. In addition, Retro Duo puts the screws to other gaming hardware, including Sony and Microsoft's PS3 and XBOne, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Retro-Bit's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Retro-Duo retails for $35) on the expectation that owners will use it to enjoy time with and without their friends, ultimately garnering further sales. Those players who've grown a library of NES and SNES games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Retro-Bit's new platform. While Retro Duo could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to cartridge manufacture?"
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Speed reading apps for ebooks?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 5 months ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Speed reading has matured into technological solutions. Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, or RSVP, provides faster reading than the manual finger-following method, with retention on par with standard reading at 250 words per minute. Research shows most people can start at 400WPM, and reach 800WPM in an hour; and further advancements used in products such as Spritz and Sprint Reader claim 1000-1800 words per minute when practiced by offsetting and context pausing.

Thus far I have not found any software to read ebooks with these methods. Are there any open source applications, Nook or Kindle Fire applications, or otherwise to read ePub or Mobi or Kindle books via RSVP?"
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Should we research new kinds of nuclear bombs?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "The Orion Drive never got off the ground primarily because, essentially, blowing up a lot of nuclear material in atmosphere is a bad idea. That means a new kind of nuclear bomb--for example, clean-pumped fusion that uses a non-fissile source to initiate chain reaction hydrogen fusion into helium with only neutrino output and no ionizing radiation or fall-out--would provide a great enabler for space flight. Unfortunately, such an awesome bomb would also provide great opportunity for military uses--and associated politics. Infinitely scalable (notably smaller) nukes with no fall-out are just conventional bombs, right? Is the promise of effective launch and space flight worth the bitter in-fighting at the UN table that would occur just for implying new research into new nukes, as well as the moral implications of greater, more deadly warfare?"
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Why are there no open printers?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "With Printer Steganography, we can trace any document printed on a modern color laser printer back to its printer. This is because the serial number and time of printing are encoded into the document as a series of small, yellow dots scattered about. With all the concerns about privacy flying about, we must ask the question: why no open printers? These could have multiple, RepRapable adapters for various manufacturers' drums and cartridges, avoiding the need to become an ink or toner supplier. They could also run Linux, BSD, or Minix internally, with a replaceable, open source OS. The implications of adaptability to various toner and ink cartridges is also interesting, especially for inkjets: a color inkjet that could select for Lexmark or hp cartridges with a cheap carriage replacement would foster price competition."
Link to Original Source
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Why no 5.25 inch hard drives?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  about 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Back in the day when you kids weren't all up in my lawn, we had "Bigfoot" style hard drives--5.25" form factor hard drives. A 5.25" circular platter would be 2.25 times as big as a 3.25". The actual platters are smaller, making the difference less striking; but then there's a spindle in the middle too, cutting away at the space on a 3.25" but not diminishing the extra space added by widening the total diameter. With Seagate getting 1TB per platter and drives hanging in bays with plenty of space around them in all but the smallest form factors, why aren't we running 5.25" hard drives and doubling the disk size?"
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Account of LAPD protestor's arrest

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "There is now this account of Patrick Meighan's arrest in LA. The LAPD were brutal and abusive. Protestors were held without bail--bail was set, but not accepted, and there was no access given to legal council. Physical violence was used by police to provoke reflexive reactions to pain, which was then reacted to with more violence. I must be missing something here, because the police seem to find peaceful protesters more dangerous than rapists and murderers."
Link to Original Source
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JP Morgan Calls In a Bribe

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Well, it seems that JPMorgan threw $4.6M at the NYPD recently. In other news, the NYPD has arrested 700 people who were annoying JPMorgan. Just for the record, these people were blocking traffic and engaging in other dangerous stupidity on the Brooklyn Bridge; but also for the record, it seems the police guided them out there, then arrested them en masse. Most of these people got citations, so I guess $4.8M isn't a lot of money."
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OnStar to Track You No Matter What

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "From the article:

Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.

OnStar began e-mailing customers Monday about its update to the privacy policy, which grants OnStar the right to sell that GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.

Enjoy your Chevrolet."
Link to Original Source

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Incandescents use less energy, CFLs an elaborate c

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "From the article, "BANNING the humble 60-watt light bulb to make way for so-called energy-saving ones and 'help save the planet' was last night exposed as an elaborate EU con." What justification could the have for such accusations? "The carbon footprint of manufacturing, distribution and disposal of a compact fluorescent bulb is far greater than the energy usage of a standard bulb." Imagine that. Complex electronics and mercury tubes are harder to make than an evacuated glass bulb with a wire in it; and reclaiming hazardous waste takes more energy than just chucking a harmless glass bulb in the standard recycling bin."
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Cancer Cured by HIV

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Apparently cancer has been cured, by injecting people with HIV. From the article, "As the white cells killed the cancer cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal." Nifty. Poorly edited run-on sentence, but nifty."
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Terrorism, Money, and Oil

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "A recent submission about the cost of terrorism to the economy brought a few things to mind. This article looks like a repeat of an article Bruce Schneier linked to on his blog in November, 2010 which, among other things, explains how terrorists spend $1 for every $1,000,000 of economic damage done. The Rolling Stones blames Goldman Sachs primarily for the oil and food price hikes due to speculation on futures, although I also tend to blame Monsanto for raising seed license fees while lobbying heavily for biofuels--and selling even more corn and soy seeds for ethanol and biodiesel. We also can't forget the news media, a modern circus designed to grab attention so the networks can get sponsorship money; they have a huge incentive to create panic, which only over-hypes the low risk posed by the terrorist "threat" (more of a "minor annoyance"), allowing politicians to pull the Politician's Syllogism and strip us of our rights while derailing our economy further. Does anyone work in our favor anymore?"
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Books and Audiobooks in Other Languages?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "I've been learning various languages and I want to get some deep exposure. Sans-$100k employment, multiple 2 week vacations every year to various countries is untenable; therefor I have found an excellent solution: audio books and dead tree books in German, Japanese, Urdu, Russian, and the like. The only problem: I can't find such a thing. Amazon doesn't sell audio books on Amazon.de that I can find; maybe this is because my German is poor and I just can't find it. Any idea where to get audio books in other languages?"
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Why does the new slashdot look like ass?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Is anyone else quickly getting sick of staring at this fuzzy, overly-cartoony iteration of the Slashdot UI? The last one was fine; this one is starting to cause nausea. Overly softened, looks like a kid's site. Digg's aesthetics look much better now."
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US to reduce fluoride in drinking water

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "The US is slated to reduce the amount of fluoride recommended for drinking water. According to WebMD, "The HHS is recommending that water supplies contain 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, replacing the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams. [...] The new HHS recommendation, Messina says, makes sense because in recent years the population has gotten more fluoride from other sources, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. [...] Some data suggest that excess fluoride may also be linked with skeletal bone damage, she says, and possibly hormone disruption. It has also been deemed an emerging neurotoxin." Fluoride supplements are sourced directly from industrial toxic waste, which cannot safely be dumped into the environment and so instead goes into the water supply. Conspiracy theorists and crazy generals obsessed with commie plots to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids are, of course, rejoicing."
Link to Original Source
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9/11: Time to Forget

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "After almost a decade (it will be so in 9 months and some days), we still all remember 9/11. I can't for the life of me recall (or care about) the date for the Oklahoma City Bombing... in fact I can't recall anyone caring that much when it happened. Somebody blew stuff up, people died, it hit the news, there was a manhunt. It was time to demote 9/11 to this level of care back in 2005... beyond time. So why do we still remember it like a big important thing? Why do people still wave flags on September 11 of each year and claim it as a patriotic American holiday, a day of celebration, a day to applaud the stripping of our rights and the deaths of thousands? Is it time to move on? Must we actively antagonize people who make a big deal out of 9/11 until they feel foolish and give up on the whole thing?"
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UK to vote on Doubling, Tripling Tuition

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "As per Wikinews, "The new policy on tuition fees will allow universities to double the current tuition fees from £3,290 per year to around £6,000 per year, as well as allowing some universities to get special approval from the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) to raise their fees to £9,000 per year." Apparently teachers were encouraging high school students to walk right out of class for this, too; I guess when you can't hope to afford college it doesn't much matter. The economics here are, of course, non-trivial; but this is a huge fee hike all at once. This has got to be the only useful thing I've actually seen televised news cover in the US in a long long int time."
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Game review: Go

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Before Risk, before Axis and Allies, before Pentago and Polarity and Settlers of Catan, before Dungeons and Dragons, even before Chess, there was Weiqi. Weiqi appeared somewhere around 2200BC in China, and soon spread to Korea as Baduk and Japan as Go; over 4000 years later, the game is as well known in Asia as Chess is in the rest of the world. Played by taking turns placing single, non-moving stones on a grid of 19x19 lines, the rules of Go are extremely simple; the playing of Go, however, is uniquely complex and contemplative.

Breaking with traditions, an up-front listing of resources for Go would seem appropriate. First off, the absolute best way to learn Go is to find a Go teacher and study with him; this works about as well outside of Japan as ordering Haggis in a Denny's works outside Scotland. In the English speaking world, however, Janice Kim's book series, "Learn to Play Go," is widely considered the best resource for beginning students. Sensei's Library provides an online resource for Go players in the form of a Wiki. Finally, the Internet Go Server allows players to observe or play games against each other online and automatically calculates rank and handicaps.

With that out of the way, Go is a fantastically simple game. The aforementioned book or a YouTube tutorial would introduce the game more clearly than a wall of text; but the rules are brief. Two players elect to play either black or white; black plays first. Players play on a 19x19 grid, or for faster games on 13x13 or 9x9 grids, by placing stones on the intersections. Each open space on the four cardinal directions represents a liberty; if one player surrounds the other player's stone on all 4 sides, that stone is captured. Stones of the same color sitting on adjacent liberties become a connected group, and thus the whole group must be surrounded to be captured.

The final rule, as consequence of the above play, is the Ko rule. The Ko rule simply states that one play cannot put the board into the exact preceding position. The Ko rule results in "Ko Fighting," a phenomena where a player cannot play a stone to recapture a point immediately, and thus instead must play a stone in a position that produces disproportionate gains if not answered immediately. The opponent will either respond to this threat, allowing recapture of the taken point and capture of the attacking stone; or settle the Ko, ignoring the threat and losing something in exchange.

Based on these simple rules, players must move to make territory: controlled area surrounded by the borders of their own stones. Players can reduce each others' territory by taking control of areas inside the opponent's border. For example, if black controls a third of the board mainly around the lower right corner, white can reduce this territory by taking control of a fifth of the board including the lower right corner. White must do this by creating life in that area: a group of stones is alive if there is no possible way to capture it. At the end of the game, the rules of scoring give each player one point for each point of surrounded territory minus one point for each stone the opponent has captured.

Between all this, the simple game of Go gives rise to many, many concepts. The primary concept of Go is that of Life and Death. A group of stones that is impossible to capture by correct play is "Alive," while a group of stones that cannot avoid capture by any means is "Dead." Groups are otherwise "unsettled." Further, there exists the concept of seki or "Dual Life" by which two groups of stones are both alive only because whichever player plays first to kill the other group will instead kill his own group. The study of life and death greatly improves a player's skill at Go: players that recognize shape early and move to prevent life can more easily retain territory; players who recognize shape and move to create shape that leads more easily to life can more easily invade their opponent's territory. As a final consequence of Life and Death, by the way, dead stones are removed from the board and captured automatically during scoring; therefor there is no reason to waste moves capturing unless your opponent forces the issue.

Another concept in Go is Joseki, which indicates a "settled pattern" of moves that produces a balanced outcome. Joseki are usually played in the opening and represent optimal play by both players: the outcome is balanced because neither player has a sufficient advantage to overwhelm the other, and thus deviation from Joseki weakens the player who deviates. Proper joseki helps players avoid entering midgame at a disadvantage when hostilities break out during the opening.

Other studies in Go follow connections and basic moves to play. While groups are only formed with solid connections, players can eliminate the threat of cutting a connection by playing non-solid connections such as diagonals and bamboo joints, or even wider shapes that cannot be effectively cut. Often moves such as the Knight's Move, hane (Turn the Corner), or Monkey Jump represent complex play that turns what appears at a glance to be a somewhat scattered set of stones into a strong, solid shape during combat and capturing races. Thus the playing of Go relies on extremely distant abstract thinking in situations that can rapidly change and have many, many open options for play.

Go does not rely on fate (as in Backgammon and other dice games) or conflict (as with Chess). It can be said that Backgammon is a man versus fate game, where winning depends on pure chance; while Chess is a man versus man game, concentrating on the concrete goal of outmaneuvering your opponent to capture his king. One can consider Go, on the other hand, as a problem of man versus self: the playing of Go is only improved by judgment, balance, and understanding of play, and such conflict and capturing that arises between the players is often brief and only a minor part of play. Go is a matter of playing the position, not playing a calculated military strategy. This makes Go extremely challenging and enlightening, and very rewarding for players who spend a fair amount of time not only playing, but also studying."

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Amazon.com handles passwords really freaking bad

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "Got an Amazon.com account? When it asks for your password, you can tack on extra character at the end or mess with the case. If "password" works, then "PASSWORD" works, "PaSsWOrD" works, "password123" works, "PasswordOHMYGODMYEYES" works, and so on. Oops?"
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Is Low-Tech High-Tech?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bluefoxlucid (723572) writes "I've been wrestling with questions of sustainability of our society for quite some time now. I'm not talking about global warming, or peak oil (or wood), or the imminent outgassing of the gulf when the sea floor cracks and spills doomsday quantities of methane into the atmosphere. I'm talking about actually being able to survive our own technology. In this vein, I've come to consider the merits of pursuing a more low-tech social structure, mainly starting from the education level. This includes everything from teaching students slide-rules, Suhnpan math, and a selection of generalized mental arithmetic strategies to encouraging the adoption of such simple things as home-baking bread and grooming with old-style razors (straight, double-edge, with brush and soap) and toothbrushes (boar bristle). My major worry is that the acceleration of a high-tech society will deteriorate when we completely distance ourselves from a low-tech world that requires--or allows--us to use things we understand, as simple as a toothbrush made of materials not produced in a lab or as complex as the baking of bread and how an egg affects the texture. After that, innovation becomes difficult and the general population atrophies due to inability to deal with the world with more than a caveman's level of understanding of anything we touch--who here knows how electric toothbrushes magically charge? Are there any philosophers or social scientists out there already considering the question of Peak Technology?"

Journals

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What really causes global warming?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 5 years ago In trying to solve the world's energy problems on the back of a napkin (see blog), I think I figured this global warming thing out. Mind you, I don't believe in human-caused global warming; but this one's a little more generalized. Basically, the sun and the earth are the same; the earth's a lot dimmer, but it radiates thermal energy out into the universe, and has struck an equilibrium with input (from the sun) versus output. Plants store thermal energy; bacteria and animals eat plants and release thermal energy. Well, every machine running on electricity also releases thermal energy. Whether we burn biofuels or throw up solar panels, we're absorbing energy from the sun that's normally reflected wholesale back to space and/or releasing it faster into the ambient environment than useful (i.e. burning plants in 30 seconds, rather than letting them decay in 3 months). With all the extra absorbed and wholesale-released heat, the equilibrium point shifts upwards, and the earth maintains a higher temperature-- it gets hotter! It gets hotter with every man, animal, and machine that walks the surface of this damn planet!

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Dynamic story rating?

bluefoxlucid bluefoxlucid writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Having a simple idea, I figured I'd write it into the journal as a first usage; and why not let them post it as a story too if they want? Anyway, the basic idea: users ranking stories, users accepting rankings. Why let armchair security experts and self-described IT experts rate your stories? Why not pick the users your think have a clue and only count their votes? Read on to see how this fleshes out in my mind.

The premise for this idea is that some Slashdot stories are good, some are bad, and some come from armchair experts who know nothing and can hype a good but inaccurate and relatively useless pile of FUD. The editors are not experts on everything either, and have let a few FUDs through in the past under the guise of breaking news. At the same time, we can't rely on armchair warriors to tell us whether or not stories are good.

The solution I've come up with is simple. Stories are rated by any user wishing to cast a rating. Users select other users they believe are knowledgeable, selecting which topics they believe the users are knowledgeable in. Each user then sees a story with a rating computed based on the opinions of users he's decided understand what they're talking about; other users are discarded.

At the simplest level, a user has other users he believes understand a topic. A more robust solution is also possible where users can go a certain depth into a web of trust. In order to accomplish this, the user sets whether or not he trusts those knowledgeable users to also recognize other knowledgeable users, and thus considers those users that the knowledgeable user considers knowledgeable as knowledgeable as well.

This trust model can be set to a specific depth, where this evaluation is followed down 1, 2, 5, or 10 steps deep. A full depth evaluation would also be possible; however it would require caching and triggering on modification of the full depth with loop detection, otherwise it would be very slow. Even with caching, a lack of loop detection will allow the system an easy route to an infinite loop. A mandatory maximum depth will prevent this, but will still bring the system to its knees for a short time.

Loop detection is important to avoid a DoS for anything more than even 1 step deep; 3000 users with all of each other trusted will otherwise cause the second step of evaluation to pass through 6,000,000 nodes, fully evaluating each node 3000 times. Simple loop detection will check if the node has been evaluated yet, and skip it if so.

Caching on changes may be the most CPU effective solution, where when any user changes his settings the changes are applied upwards through those users that depend on that setting, to avoid on-the-fly evaluation. On-the-fly evaluation may reach the 9000-node-evaluation problem at only a few steps, where users may trust 30 users who each trust 30 users, giving 9000 total users; building this list at each page view would be too expensive.

As a final measure, some users may just want to know what "the experts" think is hot. This is a low hanging fruit problem; users can simply allow the top 100 most popular, top 5%, or users accepted directly by over 1000 or 1% of Slashdot users in each topic. These selections would not be counted in these statistics; only users directly accepting individual users as knowledgeable would count. In this way, users can pull in ratings based on the users other users think are smart.

I believe this system would be useful in allowing users to weed out useless headlines and promote useful headlines because it would allow users control over who they are relying on to judge the articles. Those users not thought capable of making useful decisions are ignored in this system, giving every Slashdot user a personalized rating. Most appreciated Slashdot users are publicly known, allowing users to blanket accept the most knowledgeable users per topic. This should allow users to customize their Slashdot experience with high quality ratings of a personal value.

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