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Comments

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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

jandersen Re:Great... (483 comments)

Russia is NOT a state sponsor of terrorism. It has become a terrorist state

I think there is a third, and perhaps more likely explanation: Parts of the Russian military is not under the control of the government. Putin is not exactly stupid, and what is happening in that area is rapidly becoming stupid, so I think it is a reasonable guess that he hasn't got things under his control. Only very few countries are 'terrorist states' - there is something inherently incompatible between level-headed, routine administration of day to day business and hell-bent, wild-eyed terrorism; I can only think of Libya under Gaddafi.

10 hours ago
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Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros

jandersen Re:IT support costs (270 comments)

As for IT costs - I have worked in several companies over the years with both UNIX and Windows server rooms. Being a UNIX person, I may be a bit biased, but my personal impression is that supporting Windows servers is a lot more painfil than supporting UNIX/Linux - at one point I supported some 50 UNIXes alone, while the roughly similar number of Windows systems had a team of 5; I had a pretty relaxed daily routine, but they were always overstretched. Not because they incompetent, I learned a lot of generally useful stuff from them, but so many things in Windows seem to require either clicking through graphical interfaces, system by system, or require a specialised, graphical tool, where I would just run a few scripts from a command line. The power of tools like ksh (or bash), ssh, sed, grep, find etc should not be underestimated.

The other thing I have heard increasingly - from Windows admins themselves - is that Windows is just such nightmare to handle. I wouldn't know - I left Windows behind as soon as Linux became viable, and that's a long time ago.

2 days ago
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China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

jandersen The flavour of sour grapes (218 comments)

Cern had how many set backs while trying to power the thing up in the early stages of testing? With all the corruption China has I wonder how this will compare.

Of course CERN had problems - this is not engineering, but science. The big difference between the two being that you call it engineering, when you know in advance how to do, and science when you don't. No doubt, the first time a simple van-der-Graf accellerator was built, they had to overcome a number of problems; now, it is something you'd let a student do, because all the technical problems have been ironed out. And when/if China builds this new cyclotron, they will run into a large number of technical problems; of course they will. No need to start constructing fables about "all the corruption"; all that says is that you are suffering from petty envy.

5 days ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

jandersen Re:Pft (956 comments)

Being aggressive is always the first response a man comes up with when he feels insecure or under pressure. However, speaking as a man - that is, an adult, experienced man, not a not-quite-out-of-puberty boy - I think it is always wise to listen to criticism and try to understand it. Objectively, it does not harm you or make you vulnerable, if you are open to criticism; quite the opposite, in fact. If you are doing something wrong, then criticism is your chance to improve yourself and become better, and if the criticism is incorrect, then you can reject it, so no problem.

And I disagree with your comment about 'nice ass' - unless you are complimenting somebody's donkey, this counts as an uninvited, sexual advance. Assuming that you are male and the only heterosexual in the office, just imagine receiving this sort of comment from just about every gay man around you. Even if you are not homophobic, would you like it? Probably not. This is about respect - you earn respect by showing respect, and you gain self-respect by earning respect from others.

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

jandersen Good grief (612 comments)

So, is this the new standard for scientific reasoning? Run an experiment and draw sweeping conclusions without considering the alternatives? This sort of tripe is simply stupid - it is no better than climate denial or hollow-earthism; I don't think it belongs in a forum of people with an interest in science and technology - or even politics.

What this experiment really shows, is that a group of people who grew up in East Germany "cheated" more than a group of West Germans. We don't hear by which criteria - 'randomly' just means they can't be bothered explaining. There is no explanation of why it is considered reasonable to extrapolate from a small group to humanity in general, or indeed how you get from 'East Germany' to 'Communism' in general, or indeed what is meant by 'Communism'. Being exposed to 'Communism' was hardly the only influence acting on people growing up there, just like 'Capitalism' wasn't the only thing that shaped the lives of West Germans.

A far more likely explanation is that if you live with the fear that your neighbors are informants for an oppressive regime, then you don't have much confidence in the merits of social virtues like sharing and trusting, which are necessary preconditions for fair play: you won't play fair, unless you trust that everybody plays fair. But living with that kind of fear is not unique to communism or socialism; indeed, oppression is arguably incompatible with socialism, which is all about sharing and trusting the society you are part of.

about a week ago
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Domain Registry of America Suspended By ICANN

jandersen Re:From TFA (113 comments)

Sure you can treat that as a contract breach, but it seems more like a criminal matter to me... Why do you even put that in the contract, it's needless to say that criminal conduct will not be tolerated.

Because, in the criminal court, you are innocent until proven guilty, whereas in the civil court, the standard of proof is much more relaxed. So, in terms of stopping unwanted activity, putting it in the contract like this, is much more efficient.

about a week ago
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World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use

jandersen Re:Finally! (474 comments)

Your 'silly' idea isn't completely silly. If we want to get people off drug addiction, the way forward must entail winning the trust of the victims; and you can't win the trust of people by treating them as criminals.

Where you get it wrong, I think, is where you assume the addicts will still be homesless wrecks; in countries where you can legally get your daily heroin fix (Switzerland? Holland?), heroin addicts quite often have a career, family etc. The truth is that it isn't the addiction as such, but the criminalisation and the diseases from unclean drugs and needles that destroy lives.

about a week ago
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Heinz Zemanek Passes At 94

jandersen Re:"Passed" (52 comments)

Passed what? A kidney stone? Another car?

I think the clue is in the name: Mailüfterl: May breeze.

about two weeks ago
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Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

jandersen Re:Proud tradition (588 comments)

Female Power Rangers don't have their boobs hanging out of their outfits

Yeah, that's what i mean ... Poor stuff. ;-)

But basically, Power Rangers is nothing more than an excuse for showing off basic moped stunts; and covering the actors (and I use the word in the most liberal sense) in full leathers is not only sensible, it's also handy when you want to replace them.

about two weeks ago
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Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

jandersen Proud tradition (588 comments)

The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of ...

... completely ignoring things like historical background, common knowledge and elementary logic.

Being Danish, it has always irked me, that this cartoon 'Thor' is portrayed as a tall, sledge-hammer wielding body builder with lanky, blond hair, full body wax and a placid temperament; the traditional thunder-god, son of Odin and married to Sif, was red-haired and -bearded (and generally hairy as a man would be), foul-tempered and wielded a hammer, mjolnir, that was famously short-shafted. I suppose a busty, female 'Thoretta' isn't really all that much further from the original. It just another American, plasticky product, like 'He-Man' and 'Power Rangers'.

about two weeks ago
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German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

jandersen Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (244 comments)

I always feel vaguely amused when people say that you 'just' or 'simply' do so and so. I'm pretty sure the Germans know that these things can be done - they are clever people, you know.

Of course it is possible to penetrate whatever security measures are put in place, but using simpler technology has advantages:

- simple technology is easier to screen for spying devices; there is no networking, no firmware with backdoors, etc
- it is less easy to make copies on an industrial scale, when things are typed on paper instead of being stored electronically
- it is riskier to try to steal information, when you have to be physically present

And of course, just because it is possible to guess what a person is typing from the sound emitted, that is probably only true for a subset of typewrites, and in any case, it only works when somebody is typing something. The typewriter can be moved around, so you would have to plant microphones everywhere; and then, of course, you'll have to record everything in the hope that you'll catch something useful. All in all, you'd have to make a significant effort, which would then be more easily spotted. Possible is not the same as feasible.

about two weeks ago
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Public To Vote On Names For Exoplanets

jandersen Re:Smart move... (127 comments)

You've got MS haters trying to name it Windows 9 (because it's so far away)

Ah, but you forget that it potentially habitable.

about two weeks ago
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Walter Munk's Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment

jandersen Cheap documentary? (55 comments)

Could a storm half way across the world produce a patch of moving water that traveled from near the South Pole

This reads like the voice-over for one of those embarrassingly poor 'documentaries' you sometimes see, where the producers have tried to sensationalize a fairly standard, scientific subject, and draw it out to fill a whole hour, when it could have been adequately explained in about 10 minutes. A shame, really, because the subject is in fact quite interesting.

However: waves don't move patches of water half-way around the globe; the actual water more or less stays in place. A wave is simply energy propagating through a medium, and it is quite astonishing to hear that an ocean wave can travel that far without dissipating, because the expectation is that it would spread out in a circular pattern and thus grow weaker with distance. I would have been interested in hearing what the explanation is.

about two weeks ago
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A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

jandersen Re:Subject bait (379 comments)

Hmm, let me see; during this recent exchange, how many Israelies were killed or injured? You mention 1 elderly lady, so that is 1 that I have heard of so far. You also mention 20 civilians in Gaza, but in the same breath imply that it is probably their own fault. Now, if you step back a bit and look at what you are saying, can you understand why so many people in the rest of the world feel less than convinced of your sincerity?

You guys enjoy the protection of the US, you have overwhelming, technological advantages over your opponents, you have throughout history shown little to no interest in finding peace with your neighbours, and a large proportion of people outside of Israel feel that you are engaged in shameless landgrabbing, apartheid and collective punishment of the Palestinian population. And as your own words demonstrate, you don't actually give a sh*t about it; but you still expect the rest of the world to feel sorry for you.

This is what I think should happen: the US should withdraw all military and economic support from Israel with about a year's warning. Then you guys will have a bit of time to try to find another way to deal with your neighbours - I suspect you will become really nice and open to sincere negotiations and find a solution that is sustainable in the long term, instead of being the bully hiding behind America's skirts.

As a side note: I am not an anti-Semite. For one thing, I don't think the state of Israel are worthy representatives of Judaism (just like 'Islamists' are not Muslims), and any way, Jews are not the only Semites.

about two weeks ago
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Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

jandersen Origin of life? (158 comments)

I think the summary rather overstates the case. This virus, if a virus it is, doesn't so much hint at the origins of life as it puts a new perspective on the origins of viruses. The origin of life probably lies much further back in time than the emergence of viruses, certainly if viruses are 'degenerated' life-forms, evolved from cellular life.

Seen in this light, this new virus could be a primitive virus; but it rather begs the question whether 'virus' is actually a well-defined, mono-phyletic group. It seems quite reasonable to think that viruses have evolved many times during evolution. Firstly, although life is said to have begun when certain things came together and formed cells, there must have been a period when life or proto-life was more like a diffuse soup of components that would be part of cellular life, and while some of these combined to become cells, others may have become viruses. They may have evolved again at a slightly later stage from plasmids, pieces of genetic material that move between cells (or plasmids may have evolved as an extreme form of viruses, who knows?), and they may have arisen once more from bacteria or similar.

about two weeks ago
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Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

jandersen Re:Well (158 comments)

I, for one, welcome our new virii overl...oh forget it, this meme is no longer funny.

Virii? Nitpicking, I know, but that particular abuse of the language makes me cringe, it really does, because it is so bizarrely and emphatically wrong on far too many levels.

Even if 'virus' had been the singular form of a latin word, the plural would not have been 'virii', with double 'i' at the end. 'Viri', possibly, but 'virii' would have to come from 'Virius', a personal name - check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V...

Finally, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V...:

Etymology

The word is from the Latin virus referring to poison and other noxious substances, first used in English in 1392.[10] Virulent, from Latin virulentus (poisonous), dates to 1400.[11] A meaning of "agent that causes infectious disease" is first recorded in 1728,[10] before the discovery of viruses by Dmitri Ivanovsky in 1892. The English plural is viruses, whereas the Latin word is a mass noun, which has no classically attested plural. The adjective viral dates to 1948.[12] The term virion (plural virions), which dates from 1959,[13] is also used to refer to a single, stable infective viral particle that is released from the cell and is fully capable of infecting other cells of the same type.[14]

IMO, since 'virus' is a modernism - an old word used in a completely new way - it is reasonable to treat it grammatically as a modern word: one virus, multiple viruses, just like 'one bus, several buses' ('bus' from 'omnibus', but let's not go there). Apart from that, you would use a a nominative singular here: '... our virus overlords ...'

about two weeks ago
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UK Gov't Plans To Push "Emergency" Surveillance Laws

jandersen Re:UK is not a free country (147 comments)

Please forgive me if I try to inject a bit sanity into the discussion.

Firstly, there were EU rules in place, which required ISPs etc to keep records of who contacted who, how long they had to keep them and under which circumstances they were required to disclose this information to the police. These rules were overturned, and the UK government rushes a set of laws through, that put the EU rules back in power at the national level. IOW this is not a sudden introduction of new, sweeping powers to spy on UK citizens, it is merely a continuation of a set of rules already in place. It is also rather dubious whether this qualifies as 'spying on UK citizens', since this is about keeping records that the telephone companies already make, so they can bill their customers. Before the rules were introduced, telephone companies followed their own, internal rules, some keeping records for years while others kept them for a short period.

Requiring telecoms to keep their records for a minimum period of time is actually not exclusively bad, because as a customer you have to right to see your own records, which means that you can actually go back to the company and say 'Look, I never called that premium rate number for 2 hours every day while I was away on holiday, so somebody must have hacked you system'. This is one of the things the telecoms don't like at all, because it costs them money.

Finally, telephone records have been in used for solving crime for many years. Assuming that you are not part of a criminal organisation, you probably don't want large, international gangs - the people smugglers, the drugs cartels, the illegal arms traders, the pedophiles etc etc - to get away with it easily? So, in the absence of keeping telephone records, how to you propose that we, as a society tackle these problems? True, right now it is the job of the police, but in reality fighting crime is in the interest of all and is ultimately everybody's responsibility. So, tell us all, how do we fight international, organised crime without keeping an eye on what everybody is doing? After all, criminals look exactly like anybody else.

about two weeks ago
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UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys

jandersen Re:Is "tyrant" now the opposite of "activist"? (353 comments)

A judge should be free to question a law, yes.

AFAIK, a judge is still allowed to state his political opinion as a private person. However, the job of a judge is to judge according to the law, full stop. The probing and questioning of legislation is the job of Parliament, not least the House of Lords, as well as common citizens. This is how society is intended to work - separation of powers and all that - which is why judges and police are not allowed to ignore the law (or make up the rules as they go along).

If you, as a citizen, feel that a law is wrong, it is your right, and IMO your duty, to come out and say so in public, and even to campaign for a change; this is probably the main purpose of your freedom of speech: to allow you to express your political opinions, so that legislations does not move too far away from what people think is just and fair.

about three weeks ago
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Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis

jandersen Re:I live in Montana. I'm looking forward to it. (389 comments)

Well said :-)

Of course, the problem we have now is not whether we can avoid climate change - we can't - but whether we can avoid running completely off the tracks. Even if we were to stop burning fossil fuel right now, we are still looking at continued climate change for a least a couple of centuries, and the best we can do is to try to limit the damage. We can adapt to the changes that are already unavoidable, but we would be very hard hit if whole ecosystems were severely disturbed all over the world.

But I really don't understand the hysterical denialism; to me it looks like there are massive opportunities - when there are big changes afoot, there are always more opportunities, if you are clever enough. Isn't that what being American is all about?

about three weeks ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

jandersen Re:another language shoved down your throat (415 comments)

I disagree. Java and Python - or any other programming language - are tools and only in widespread use because they fulfill their purpose well. It is a mistake to think that a programming should aim to make programming easy - designing and writing programs are fundamentally difficult tasks, and the only way you can make coding feel easy is by hiding away the complexities behind an API; but the cost is always to narrow the scope of the language.

Java and Python have both found a very good balance between generality and ease of use; my fear is that if you don't learn the hard, but more universal programming techniques from the beginning, then you'll never learn them and you'll always be a user of tools that you don't fully comprehend. It is a lot easier to move in to Java, Python or any other "easy" language, if you start from C++, than it is to go from Python to C++, for example.

One would hope that Java or Python is not the only programming language that is learned; it should IMO be mandatory to also learn at least C and possibly assembler of some sort.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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10 TB cloud storage for free

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about 8 months ago

jandersen (462034) writes "Chinese Tencent are going to launch a free, 10TB cloud storage service:

http://pandodaily.com/2013/11/18/tencent-to-launch-international-version-of-free-10tb-storage-service-new-photo-sharing-app-coming-soon-to-us/

10TB is some 5000 times more than Dropbox, and 666 times more than what you get with Google (Yes, I know, that number keeps cropping up, doesn't it?)

What will no doubt worry people is that it is a Chinese company, although they are planning to store the data outside of China. I guess, with the NSA scandal unfolding, it is just a question of choosing your poison."
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Arctic thaw may be first in cascade of tipping points

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen writes "Here's an article from New Scientist that's guaranteed to arouse yet another controversy (from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729064.500-arctic-thaw-may-be-first-in-cascade-of-tipping-points.html):

ONE climate domino has fallen, and it may start toppling others. A recent study outlined an interconnected web of climate tipping points, some of which make the next ones more likely. Now, an analysis of data from the last 23 years suggests we passed the first of these tipping points in 2007, when Arctic sea ice flipped into a new, less stable state. That may speed the world towards the next tipping point – the thaw of a vast expanse of Siberian permafrost.

New Scientist is sometimes criticised for being sensationalist, but this article seems sober to me: it is well referenced, and they try to include opposing viewpoints to balance it. If what they say is true, we may be in for a series of increasingly dramatic changes, and sooner rather than later."
Link to Original Source

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EU to spend 1 billion euro on graphene and brain research

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen (462034) writes "The EU is going to spend 100 million per year over the next 10 years to boost research and interdisciplinary cooperation by launching two flagship projects in March:

- The Human Brain Project: Aims "to develop a large-scale ICT infrastructure for the specific purpose of understanding the brain and its diseases, and of translating this knowledge into new computing technology." Basically, they want to build a working computer model of a human brain. (http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/in_brief.html)

- The Graphene Flagship: Aims "to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe." (http://www.graphene-flagship.eu/GF/index.php)

How cool is that? For more info, see http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/programme/fet/flagship/home_en.html — but be warned: this is EU, and understanding the whole setup is fiendishly complicated."
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Ask Slashdot: Server room toolbox?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea.

Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx (here for the whole range of strange screwdriver standards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives). But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."
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The revolution is coming

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about 2 years ago

jandersen writes "According to Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut, we may be heading towards serious, social unrest within a decade (article on New Scientist — registration (free) required: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528781.800-calculated-violence-numbers-that-predict-revolutions.html?full=true):

The mathematics underpinning the rise and fall of empires suggest that the US faces imminent and bloody unrest. How worried should we be?

Is he on to something? Note, this is not a head-in-the-clouds-prophet speaking, but a real scientist, who proposes a real theory: a falsifiable hypothesis; and as he says ""It is easier to predict timing than the height of the peak. My feeling is that it's going to be worse than we expect. Hopefully I'm wrong — I have to live through this."."
Link to Original Source

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A sad tale: US gov online visa app

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jandersen (462034) writes "It was recently my fortune to have to assist in applying for a US visa for a Chinese citizen living in London. This turned out to be a very painful journey, not least because of the online application form — give it a whirl yourselves:

https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

- and here is the video that introduces it:

http://www.youtube.com/user/USEmbassyLondon#p/u/1/LSd6gYr-aSs

Don't worry, it isn't dangerous, and the effects can mostly be fixed with counselling, eventually.

On top of the horrors of this supremely inept piece of code, you get to be treated with a mixture of hostility and indifference at the embassy plus constant demands for further documents about trivial nonsense — like "You state that you went to primary school x until such and such date, but didn't enter secondary school until 6 months later; what did you do in that time?"; presumably they have words like "training camp" rolling around the vast empty spaces in their heads (makes you wonder what they would think of an American teenager who has been to "boot camp" — now there's damning evidence if ever there was)

And what do they expect to hear when they ask "Are you coming over to commit terrorist offences?" — "Oh dear, it's a fair cop, they've caught me now, right enough. And there was I, wondering if terrorism would require a work permit.""
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What Open Source Forum SW is best

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jandersen writes "I want to do something about improving morale and team-spirit in the company where I am the UNIX manager; and I thought it might be good to run some sort of social forum where people can engage in intellectual discussions on a high level, just like on Slashdot. People will, of course, waste time there — at least if you ask management — but I don't think of it as wasted. After all, people tend to "waste time" talking about sport and solving the great problems of the world any way, so why not put it on a server? And the thing is — this is a global company, and we don't really know our colleagues in India, China, Europe and so on. But which software should I choose? There seems to be a lot of for forum/BSS software around; what I want is something similar to /. — I like the concept of users being able to mod each others up and down — and it has to be open source, rather not Java, and run on Linux. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. What does the people think?"
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Non-violent, cooperative games?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jandersen writes "While I generally don't really play computer games, I do occasionally play games like Crossfire or The Mana World, because they have more of a story line and allow you to go at your own pace; they require a little bit more intellect and less testosterone, perhaps. What I don't care much about, though, is that they are still basically about killing monsters and amassing wealth, and it gets very tedious after a while.

Are there really no games where the goal isn't so much about increasing your own power and defeating others, but where you instead grow by doing things that benefit others, where enemies shouldn't be killed out of hand, but befriended, where learning, teaching, research and social skills are more important than killing and conquering? Would people be interested in a game of that nature?"

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