Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?
Had this happen under a Dilbertian boss.. Other guy was a 'pet' of boss, couldn't make his project work. He told boss it was almost done 1-2 weeks of work left that could be finished off by a less senior coder. The bug he was running into took 3-5 days of run-time / crash to find.
It was multi-threaded/multi-cpu code back in the days BEFORE the Intel Core processor (we used multi-cpu motherboards to allow development of parallelism.
Problem was he had zero experience with parallel or multithreaded design, whereas I did, so I was perceived as the logical choice to find the last few remaining problems..
I didn't realize how much of a poser the other guy was -- and was naive when I agreed to finish it (as though I had a choice).
The project that ended up taking about 2-3 months due to the need to rewrite most of his code He was a new 'senior engineer by pay-grade because he'd been here on an H1B visa and had gotten a permanent residency status. He'd been a "under-the-gun" gung-ho developer while he was under the H1-B, but due this 80-100 hour weeks and desire to have our company sponsor his permanent status (which they did, all at their expense).
After he got it, he hinted he might leave, so to keep him, he was given a senior position in order to quality him for the benefits and salary range he wanted -- as well as not making him finish the code he had no idea how to do.
It took me 3 months to finish his work -- with it being fully tested. My first approach had been to optimize the code so that reproducing the bug could be done in a reasonable time. With over a 10X speed up, the bu could be reproduced in 20-30 minutes, max. It was then traced to his code not releasing locks that he'd acquired -- which seemed to work when the code was very slow.
When my boss wanted to know why I turned 1-2 weeks of work into 3 months, I pointed out the errors. He accused me of shifting blame and finger pointing. I ended up getting the 'review' the other guy should have got next cycle, while he came up smelling like a rose.
That experience and a few others like it really put me off working with other people -- as they, almost universally got stuck in their code with blame shifted to me. In no case was my code at fault -- but that doesn't stop management from blaming you.
Leave -- run, and avoid such situations at all costs. You will never come up with a positive result. The best you can do, usually is to minimize damage with copious amounts of evidence and documentation.
NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats
I thought about the idea of taking my SSI payout overseas in some 3rd world country where costs were 1/10th what they are in the US.
I found this is not allowed. If you payed into "your" SS account all your life, and expected to be able to withdraw on it after retirement age -- you could only do so in the US. Apparently, if you move overseas to retire -- you forfeit rights to money you paid into the system (at least while living abroad).
This is NOT about moving overseas and changing citizenship -- but is saying that US citizens can only receive US benefits if they remain in the US where SSI payouts qualify them for living under the US-poverty line.
What's up w/that? Of course many of the same supporters of such inane policies are also against paying benefits to those who immigrate into the US. The SSI rules are setup to prevent payouts to people who might move here to retire -- even if they become citizens, because benefits are based on money you pay in. So how can they justify NOT paying who live outside the US who did work?
If it wasn't the government doing it, it would be called fraud and theft...
But in the US, such things as fraud and theft are merely standard policy and law.
Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart
They were bought out by "attachmate" -- a maker of appliance like office support stuff. Suse was a desktop & server company, now they are focusing on a closed & secure boot for supporting user-tamper proof appliances -- not that it won't be usable for laptops and such, but makes user control and configuration much more difficult.
They claim that they are following in the steps of redhat on many of these issues who's also going to have a secureboot offering (booting w/binaries signed by MS-certs.
Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart
Good luck w/that.
I hope you don't expect to update any SW on your system for a while.
opensuse has gone out of their way to make their systems NOT be systemV compat... including moving to a requirement for booting from a ramdisk image (because systemd doesn't handle PATH, it uses fixed paths for it's binaries), integrating the power, device, udev and logging subsystems into systemd, with logging going to a binary MS-like format that is, by default, not saved.
Also put all the var/run files on ram disk, so progs that were used to their own directory for run /var/run/dir/xxx so they could run as non-root, need to have it recreated each boot....
it can be real hairy trying to get around all those problems and opensuse's official position is that any other config (including booting directly from your hard disk) is not supported.
Ten Steps You Can Take Against Internet Surveillance
When the computer industry was "young", there was little likely hood the NSA had co-opted your developers & SW providers. Now?
With every update you need to wonder if it contains a new backdoor at the request of the NSA, asked via a "security letter", which makes disclosure illegal.
Examples in linux abound as vendors stumble over each other to provide secure-boot distro's, complete with windows-like service managers (systemd), that move config control out of scripts where you can see what they are doing, into binaries, that you have to verify come from a source that is likely too large for most of us to audit -- not to mention the problem looking for a backdoor that might be very well hidden these days... (ex. pre-solved factoring keys for AES encryption), etc... You got the latest certs downloaded from *where-ever* (needed for https and such)? How many aren't already cracked?
I wouldn't have a problem with the NSA's spying, *IF* they didn't share anything not related to national security -- but our entire justice system is predicated on law-enforcement being 'human' and needing warrants to search private stuff -- but now? The NSA doesn't need those, and any info it finds is shared with generic, domestic law enforcement. It's already been seen that the FBI has been getting info dumps from the NSA that it's been using to start determined "take-down" efforts against *persons*. I.e. they just watch the people they want, and find some excuse to 'legally' find out the info, OR, find something else to bust them on.
Of course it's been well documented here on "/.", how both foreign visitors and US citizens lose their constitutional rights when they are at a border -- losing laptops and having decryption keys demanded.
One rectifying solution would be to have any illegally leaked evidence taint prosecution of someone for *any, "hidden", charge*, for some number of years (whatever statute of limitations might be).
By hidden, I mean things they'd have to probe into to find out -- not armed robbery or such...
It sounds problematic, and the details would have to be ironed out, but between that, and the profit motive for "charging" a "rightless" property with "crimes" instead of the person, our legal rights as citizens are falling below western standards and down into the "outcast/illegal/brutal" regimes that we supposedly "invade" for....
Who's gonna invade us to save us from our government? I think the only ones with the ability to save us are "us".
Why Does Windows Have Terrible Battery Life?
You could always read the "Windows [OS] Internals" books and find that it's trying to keep disk indices up to date, keep time and certificates up to date/current with appropriate servers, looking for updates, optimizing disk access, looking for changes in propagated rights and restrictions (which get "pushed" down from above), so old credentials are timed out and/or updated (effects of group policy, primarily, as group membership doesn't change dynamically)...checking that subscriptions are up-to-date (multiple formats (url based, rss, email, other messaging, etc).
Window's supported API is much larger than what most other OS's provide -- with MS still supporting programs from the XP era 10 years ago as well as modern DirectX11 progs .. vs. Linux. HA!... My linux vendor can't be troubled to support **one level** of previous-releases with any current release.
Linux doesn't really have a 3rd party market API to support. Many WinXP games work on Win7. Show me 1 3D-graphics prog from 2000 that runs on the linux of that day and today with no changes. Doesn't exist.
With a move of data to the cloud, with slower data rates and constant updates, (you do want your phone to beep when you have a new message, right?), devices need to stay on longer to get info. Windows has LONG been about supporting centralized business control over client machines. Vista was about creating a trusted computing core that could be known to be "integrous" so it could play encrypted digital media in a way that would be able to give guarantees to media owners about the media being protected -- something still in infancy in Linux, but with companies like RedHat & SuSE(now an "AttachMate" subsidiary) getting closer to secure boot & running of signed-only SW and central service control with Systemd.
The Linux versions that don't use much power are not providing those newer features and likely aren't systemd based.
What windows does in background is well documented -- and is a considerably longer list than what Linux provides. I can't even install and run a newer generation of "perl" on my linux box without being told it is "unsupported", vs. Windows providing Visual C interfaces from 2000-2013 in side-by-side libs that usually work).
I can't believe a comment based on ignorance got rated so highly for "insightful".....
(None of the above should be thought to indicate a love for MS or Windows... which give me ample reasons to hate them... But the wild-west development and support[sic] existing in Linux is getting worse as time goes on and giving me more reasons to appreciate the MS elephant in the room...)
Why Bitcoin Boomed During the Government Shutdown
Why is it that every half wit thinks that bitcoin is all about drug transactions and prostitution?
Because it's the propaganda spread by Federal law enforcement to get people "not to care" about something that is only used for such. That way, they have far more freedom trample on rights w/o the public at large being shocked or as upset...
I'm sure the ""Federated"-LargeBankClub (sometimes called the Federal Reserve Board, or "the Fed", like it has anything to do with the Federal government) is also trying to manipulate public perception. If they lost control of both issuing and constantly devaluing the currency -- and a currency like Bitcoin was perceived as not devaluing, (relative to other currencies), then deliberately devalued currencies (like the dollar -- usually only 2-3%/year, but, since Bush handed over ~ 50% of a years budget to his finance buds, it's been closer to double that (~6%/year).
The standard of living in the US as a whole continues to drop as we are told that a shrinking dollar is really "flat" inflation... yeah, right.
Now try to buy foreign-made products that would normally have gotten cheaper over the past 6-7 years as tech ages and becomes cheaper to produce. Instead of that -- prices have remained flat or gone up in areas where before there were about 15-20% price drops/year (as measured in $$/constant unit, where constant unit= things like CPU seconds (of some fixed generation), or $$/processor, or $$/diskspace unit, or memory... you name it, hasn't dropped nearly as much as before we were Bush-Wacked!
Google Fiber Partially Reverses Server Ban
So if you create a website, and like nearly everyone else, you try to get ad-slots (probably using google) filled, to defray the costs or support server upgrades, wouldn't that allow them to call you "commercial"? I.e. if you take ads from them or anyone are you commercial?
Suppose you take "donations" -- and in return give "benefits" (examples include more space, on server, more downloads of "valued material" (whatever it is that people on the site want), or voting rights of what features will be implemented in 'vim'). The way things stand, google already supports such ventures through various google "offerings" (google groups, for example).
Are they going to set a limit of how much you can make per/year to be considered non-commercial? If you are a non-profit organization (or religious or political organization) are you exempt?
What a mushy, arbitrary line -- perfect for selective enforcement and abuse.
China's State Press Calls For 'Building a De-Americanized World'
China is doing a great job of accumulating it's own massive debt. At some point it will probably turn into a race to see who gets there first although I'd give China the edge because I think their economy is not sustainable. For at least a decade some have suggested that China has been exaggerating it's economic growth and from what I know I tend to believe it. Sure things are great, for a very small subset of the population. Meanwhile the majority is exploited in the name of economic success.
And this is different from the US, how? Top CEO's earn 1000's of times what their exploited workers make:
The US is in the difficult position that they're the world's military.
And how did that come to be? By lying to their citizens, exploiting them and corrupting the government officials that were suppose to be protecting our interests.
China may not have doodoo that does not smell, but that doesn't mean they don't make valid points at times.
Broadcasters Petition US Supreme Court In Fight Against Aereo
[blockquote]Let me repeat this, so it's clear: In the US, commercial TV broadcast is funded by advertising time. (And, in part, by selling rebroadcasting rights to cable channels.) That's why it's been classically "free" off-air to viewers. It's a different model from other countries, where you get taxed for owning a TV. The only exception is the US government sponsored PBS channel, which is still "free" to receive but is funded in part by income tax.[/blockquote]
The above model is seriously messed up in many areas were you can't receive more than 1-2 over-the air channels and need cable just to get the main 3 networks.
What's worse, IF we have cable , rebroadcast rights have already been paid by the cable company. I bitched to the cable company about having to pay extra for digital to get free-off-the-air digital channels. Comcast in my area is a monopoly, and sets their prices as they wish.
The TV broadcasters, sounds like they are simply making a play to demand more money from end-users. It's nothing about their rights being violated. Their rights have been paid for by cable and advertising fees. Now they want more just because I can record something and watch it elsewhere?
It's all about the entire entertainment industries desire to move to paying for each "play" of "their material"....
Notice how distribution is shifting away from hard goods -- and even they often need online connections for stuff to be validated? You can't buy many goods anymore -- just "license them"... which should be crap.
Ask Slashdot: Mitigating DoS Attacks On Home Network?
Thanks for confirming my suspicions... The new generation of script kiddies think little of being major pains. They've grown up in a world with no real feedback -- they don't have to see your face, nor be afraid of reprisals...
Gaming DOS's? Witnesses first hand a site down for 2 weeks over some 16'y/o being told to read the rules (which he'd violated in multiple ways) -- not that he was told in anything remotely, what I would call, a polite manner (i.e. the site "asked" for the treatment they got...). It was trivial though for him to just fly off the handle over a slight magnified by adolescent hormones and lack of experience. He was only stopped because the site had international members and one finally drove to the city where the kid lived and talked to his parents...
The BIG problem is that you (original poster) CANNOT stop or deal with the DOS on your end. It doesn't matter what you do with your router -- by the time it hits your router, the connection from you ISP to you has already been saturated. Do the wireshark thing(s) and gather evidence, but enlist your ISP's help -- technically, it is your ISP that is relaying the packets to your computer -- and if the traffic can be characterized, they could put in a filter at their end to disallow incoming traffic that fits some abusive pattern (with the idea that the filter would be a temporary solution)....
Police Demand Summary Domain Takedown, Traffic Redirection
This is dangerous. This is very very dangerous. We openly acknowledge that those in charge have been fucking it up royal. But the media circus has convinced everyone that "my guy isn't the problem....
Not entirely -- the problem is that only a minority of people vote. Most of those who do are not the 89% who disapprove.
How do you think CA LOST legalizing same-sex marriage, when other states won? CA was thought to be a bell-weather state, and the mormons spent huge amounts of money to influence the "low-education" conservative voters to vote against it "en masse"... While they bought the election, in CA, it still passed elsewhere and by US-constitutional law, is likely valid in CA now as well.
Why do you think conservatives are against good public schools?
U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed
They just did. They closed the US Gvnmt.
Now if only it would stay closed.
I propose we have a constitutional convention now, quick, why the old government is officially shut-down.
Google's Scanning of Gmail To Deliver Ads May Violate Federal Wiretap Laws
[blockquote]GMail scans and extract the meaning of the communication ... they are extracting, saving, using and building a database of meaningful content from your email ...[/blockquote]
It depends on what algorithm they are using, but if it is a Bayesian type analysis, they aren't extracting meaning, but a mathematical pattern which correlate to certain subjects that trigger ads.
You can see this type of behavior in results and it doesn't show much in the way of intelligence or actually finding "meaning", any more than looking for 2+2 and giving 4.
Pattern recognition is a machine level, non-thinking action -- that can be correlated, statistically (another numeric formula w/probabilities) to give formulaic outputs that can be used to trigger ads.
That isn't the same as deciphering meaning.
Google's Scanning of Gmail To Deliver Ads May Violate Federal Wiretap Laws
You don't think MOST of the NSA's scanning is automated?
Just because it is automated, doesn't mean they don't pick out information they want and act on it.
How is this different than if a human scanned it?
DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records
You don't understand -- the prison industry is a growth industry fueled by owners like Dick Cheney, who aren't about to let one of their biggest "feeds" into their system become "legal". The US prison industry is one of the few that continues to grow despite[due to] budget cuts and bad economic conditions. It grows during good times, and grows even faster during bad times.
On top of this, there is the move toward privatization where profits can really be had as economies of scale increase and provided "benefits" are cut below ethical levels, but still passing "official" guidelines (which are set by those making money by cutting them).
It's also a way of creating a new "underclass". With racism coming under constant harassment, some women making more than men, children's work restricted, a new class of low-wage slave laborers is needed. Those with prison records get to face all sorts of legal discrimination in housing and employment. It's a ripe market for development!
Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?
Happy OpenSuSE users? Ha! W/the switch to away from initd to a windows systemservicesd that takes over the HW operations of other daemons in preparation for licenses tied to your HW config as on windows? Yeah, real happy.
Obama Asks FCC To Make Carriers Unlock All Mobile Devices
"Maybe I'm being naive, but where is the problem with this arrangement? "
What you are talking about -- phone subsidies, is primarily, dealt with via "early cancellation penalties". Carriers also check your credit before "advancing you" the cost of a phone to verify that you are an acceptable credit risk.
Phone locking allows companies like Verizon to lock out features of the phone. Example: not being able to transfer [music] files from my computer to the device.
My phone had the capability to transfer music files over USB, but Verizon locked out this ability, to encourage me to use "air time" and "data minutes" to download my own music to the device as well as paying per-song charges at the time.
Then comes the issue of being able to take my phone with me -- AFTER any contractual-obligation period, to a new carrier. This was (and with lock-in, still is) doesn't allow me to use a phone I've, *long since*, paid for.
Phone locking has little to nothing to do with something that is already dealt with via early cancellation penalties and Obama didn't ask that early cancellation penalties be abolished.
Phone locking disallows consumers bringing their own device to a network (presuming the device is network compatible) and is used to artificially inflate the costs of services and features long after any contractual-obligation period.
The Sharing Economy Fights Back Against Regulators
Top tax rate for corporations is less than that of individuals in the US by about 20%.
So yeah, it should be cheaper for corporations to supply products than individual tax payers.
So why isn't?
You statement is loaded with an assumption that people don't pay taxes -- they do. It's the corporations that have lower tax rates, yet have many rights as people including owning many politicians.
So if it is easier for corporations to be cheaper, why aren't they?
It Takes 2.99 Gigajoules To Vaporize a Human Body
Um... there is an assumption that one would disassociate all the atoms in the body in this disintegration -- but disintegration isn't an exact synonym for disassociation. If you think of items taking up a certain amount of space / mole (6.02x10^23 "things") -- gasses are fairly similar, so converting water to 2xH2+O2 would take up a large amount of space -- i.e. big explosion. That was never the case in a phaser set to disintegrate (or vaporize -- which is a closer synonym to disassociate).
Instead, it would be more efficient to annihilate part of the matter to power the conversion and ensure that there was no left over matter to expand in the space as well as converting no MORE matter than necessary to do the job, so no excess energy is released. A miniature computer in the phaser would likely do the trick.
With E=mass x light^2, only a tiny amount of the body's mass would need to be converted to energy to power the whole reaction.
3*10^8 squared, = 9 * 10^16. A gigajoule = 10^9 joules. So, we'd only
need 10^(-7)* of the mass units... ?? grams? kg? moles? But that's
an awfully small amount. The phaser just has to control the fusion conversion. Considering in the star-trek era, fusion was considered an old tech, I would guess they'd have it fairly well controllable.
(forgive any math errors, as I didn't look everything up, but hopefully people get the general idea)....
MS sums up MS-community support in avatar URL's
I was looking at why my avatar looked so odd on the MS site when I noticed the address FUD.community....FUD/Image..
Wasn't the term FUD created to reference MS's tactics in the market? (FUD: Fear Uncertainty & Doubt)....
Now I better understand MS's attitude toward the members of its fora. ;-/
Microsoft already abandons full support for Win7
It seems like the days of MS supporting old versions of windows for years later is over. MS is so committed to getting you to move to Win8 (and give up your home computer**) that they've already dropped support for Win7 desktop features like the gadgets gallery that would have competed, directly with Win8 (providing the same features with a lower foot print).
If you try to visit the Win7 gadgets gallery http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/give-your-pc-some-personality-with-desktop-gadgets-from-windows-live-gallery, you are told that MS has already dropped support for "old tech" (their currently released product) to focus on new tech (new gadget OS win8).
It seems (bit surprise) MS has become an Apple follower. They want to emulate apple's success by providing the same product. An interface that's button like -- where they can sell apps, and get out of the expensive OS business and make lots of money selling cloud based vapor that you won't own and simply be a consumer of... That's what the majority wants anyway, developers are now (and have been for some time) a declining minority in the computer market, and gone are the days when companies would court and design products for them.
Today it's about designing for the consumer -- like any other consumer product, TV's phones, etc. And just like with them, do you see any offerings for development of apps for TV's? or OS's geared for such? The mere thought sounds ludicrous, no? That's were the computer market is headed -- at least for the home / consumer market.
There will still be a business server version, of Windows, likely, but the desktop, looks like it is being put down -- with support already dropping for things like 'gadgets' (apps) that directly compete (had the same functionality and are interchangeable with) today's "apps". Except, of course, that instead of being 'free' and coming with the OS, You'll pay 1-2$ for each of those 200-300 apps (assuming you wanted them all, which is unlikely), but each old os ability will be appified and sold for 5-10$.. even office. So while MS is advertising an intro upgrade price to Win8 for only $19, it's clear why -- it's only the door to their new store.
The last full featured version of Windows was WinXP, from there, they started
cutting and dividing the existing product into smaller pieces to sell separately so they could charge 7-10x what they charged for XP... with Win8, looks like they are doing another 10x multiplier.
It looks like MS ran out of ideas... and now can only resort to cannibalizing their old products into smaller pieces to sell separately in order to try to make more money....
I call for the US government to require MS to open the source for WinXP (and XP64) immedidate, and any of their products that they end support for within 1 year of ending support. If MS doesn't need the products anymore and they are 'obsolete', then obviously they have no need to keep the source proprietary anymore. Such would not apply to products where they are providing the same functionality in newer products, but such wasn't the case with XP (HW requirements in Win7 were much higher), and such isn't the case with Win8 (no desktop option).
It's time the software field was re-leveled, -- if it is becoming a commodity then old software should be moved into the public domain for the benefit of the public and society. It shouldn't be the case that a company is able to have so much influence over the country as to tell the country when they have to update and what is obsolete.
Government creates new generation of Heroin addicts
I first wrote this as a response to This slashdot article, but I thought the PR spin on the outcome was SO bogusly crocked, I had to mark this in my journal. Note, this isn't the only drug the government has gotten involved with and contributed to further hell for patients already having problems, nor is it the first time the government cure has worse effects that the original problem -- they are famous for that (prohibition, (both the alcohol one, and the marijuana one))...It's just another one that they've managed to spindoctor into a great triumph message that those who don't need such drugs can join in and feel morally smug about.
Original writing below:
I thought I was having a flashback -- at least 4-5 years ago... same exact article. Except then, it was still call Hillbilly Heroin" because most of the abusers were in Appalachia with the drug taking the place of more toxic and more dangerous heroin.
But this article does bring the update of "yesterdays" crackdown on pain meds. From the base article:
None of the men and women I spoke with used street heroin before taking OxyContin. All of them used it after using OxyContin. In fact, since Purdue Pharma introduced a reformulated OxyContin in 2010 containing chemical safety-nets meant to render it less easily abused â" the pills no longer dissolve in water, making them more difficult to cook and shoot intravenously â" the number of addicts switching to heroin has skyrocketed.
It's a good thing the FDA has done their job and gotten people off the legally addictive drugs -- so now they can have to scrounge and take their chances of dying from O.D. just like every other addict.
Meanwhile, those who really needed OC for pain find that since it doesn't dissolve in water -- it doesn't dissolve in your body as well either (we are over 60% water, w/the brain being over 70% water -- which is, of course, where the drug "acts" -- so the fact that it no longer dissolves in water significantly reduces its effectiveness requiring doubling or more the pain dosage. At the same time, Purdue was able to get the FDC to block out competitors in the market unless they could prove their 'generic' was as hard to abuse as Purdue's -- which Purdue had another 20-30 year patent on. The price for single doses tripled with the new formulation and now many health plans charge extra for that drug because it is 'brand' (despite there being no generic substitute on the market) -- and users need more of it.
So AGAIN, the FDA, who was *paid* to do this (they call it a fine -- what Purdue paid to the FDA), so now Purdue's profits on the drug have skyrocketed even as usage has declined. Triple the price and reduce the effectiveness of the drug by 40%... That's. 4.8 x profit / pill. They expected a smaller market -- but made sure they have a 20-year patent to lock the market into them as the sole providers.
So Purdue makes big money, the FDA look like 'tough guys', abusers move to heroin and everyone is happy! Except maybe those for whom the drug was designed in the first place who find they have their severe or chronic pain made all the worse with the higher prices, needing a higher dose, which doctors, not knowing about the formulation's effects (they don't take it, well not usually), always interpret as the patient developing 'tolerance' and and that "addiction is becoming a problem" --
to which they then try to divert the patient to less effective or more dangerous alternatives (like injectible morphine).
Yeah... another big win by BIG Pharma and a way to spin the story so that Big Pharma looks like they got punished, and the FDA protected us.
And then you can read a bunch of red-neck commentaries on slashdot about the moral superiority of those aren't in regular pain...lording it over those who are:
what a load of self-inflating, self-gratifying, crap.
Pop Culture (like VidGames) can influce behavior...
I found this in my paper edition of Skeptical Enquirer but couldn't find it online. Given that the writers are not given to 'myth', but deal in Science, I thought this article would be pertinent to the "Violence in VidGames leading to real life violence" discussion. The author writes about several cases of real-life conditions that 'coincidentally' follow wide-spread pop-culture releases.
While it seems obvious, to me, that that not everyone is affected by pop culture in the ways he lists, it seems equally obvious that some people are affected -- and in some cases may not even know the cause.
[FROM THE EDITOR - Skeptical Enquirer - May/June 2011]
Pop Culture and Questionable Cases
We are immersed in popular culture. The influences of Hollywood entertainment on what we think, say, believe, and do can seep deeply into our beings. Sometimes, without our even realizing it, this influence can distort our view of the real world. We have two examples in this issue. Both, curiously, involve memory.
The first is our cover article, "A Skeptical Look at a Remarkable Case Report of 'Overnight' Amnesia." Neuroscientists and psychologists Harald Metenbach, Thomas Merten, and our colleague Scott O. Lilienfeld critically examine a study about a supposed new memory disorder published last year in a journal of neuropsychology. After a car accident in 2005, a fifty-one-year-old woman seemingly loses her memories of each day's events overnight. Every day is new to her; her short-term memory is wiped clean only to be filled up the next day and then be lost again that night. The study has gained attention, but too little has been skeptical. Our authors rectify that situation and find major limitations to the report about her case: it lacks crucial background information (how does she carry on her job if she forgets everything from the day before?), fails to exclude feigning or lack of motivation to remember new material, and lacks "connectivity" to the scientific literature (something often under-appreciated)â" how exactly would memory be acquired during the day and then wiped out each night? There is no known mechanism for doing that.
These deficiencies of the study lead our authors to suspect that the woman has been strongly influenced by a fictional case depicted in a widely seen Hollywood movie, 50 First Dates, starring Drew Barrymore. The woman saw that movie several times after her accident. The authors of the original study noted that possibility but then dismissed it. Our authors do not. Occam's razor leads them to suggest the study doesn't demonstrate amnesia at all but a kind of simulation of it based on the woman's (mis)understandings of amnesia after seeing the movie. Something similar has happened before. After the airing of the 1976 television film Sybil, which portrayed a woman with supposedly sixteen distinct personalities, the number of such dissociative personality disorder cases "skyrocketed into the thousands."
Our authors draw several lessons from this case; one is that widely viewed television programs and films may influence how patients present or describe their own symptoms. The case reminds us, say Merckelbach, Merten, and Lilienfeld, "that in today's media-driven world, some disorders may be what we term telegenic in origin: induced at least partly by television, films, and news and entertainment media."
A second case is reported in this issue by our deputy editor, Ben Radford. He draws on research for a book he has just published on the supposed bloodsucking chupacabra creature, which suddenly appeared on the scene in 1995. Radford shows that the first sighting of a chupacabra came shortly after the woman who reported it saw a sci-fi horror movie, Species, featuring a creature that bears an uncanny resemblance (twelve morphological similarities, in fact) to her subsequently reported chupacabra. Radford, who flew to Puerto Rico to interview the woman, is convinced that she sincerely believes what she reported. But he is equally sure this movie is what started the chupacabra myth.
Our minds are a wonder. They have grand capacities for creativity. Sometimes, influenced by the pop culture all around us, they create things we then think are real. It's a fascinating, and sobering, set of lessons.
Amazon's route 53?
When I first saw this service offering, I had visions of this being a first step toward the offering of a private 'tollroad' to get to amazon's services (or your services hosted by amazon) that would enable customers using the tollroad to get faster speeds than over the 'public' interstate system. Not exact what it is, but that discursed into two separate chains of thought.
The first being a 'Brazil' (movie) future where internet denizens would have to have 'interstate-net' maps to determine their route to their destinations and see if there happened to be a toll-road, by-pass, running near their intended route that by detouring through, they might get faster speed for that leg of the journey at some increased cost, and how with real-time traffic updates, the efficacy of such routes could be computed in real-time to allow the net-traveler to navigate even local 'rush-hour' traffic zones with ease, though wondering how often one would find one's self on some isolated section of highway going at 100KB/s through a construction zone and thinking about the politicians always scamming for more money to build more freeways and bypasses that never seemed to actually alleviate congestion...Ug....headache and nausea terminated that line of thinking...
Then I read what Amazon's service was actually about -- it was just for DNS queries. While their upfront rates are very cheap, their backend, per-query costs are scary. They *sound* cheap, until you realize that a DoS attack against your DNS routers might leave you with a surprise bill that is far out of the range of your expectations.
Such 'pay-for-traffic' amount systems, right away show some of their worst flaws.
How many of the pay-for-traffic proponents are willing to swallow any fraud costs or inexplicable spikes in usage to their customers?
Sounds like yet another way that model to fail.
You can't charge customers for something they can't control. Even if you allow customers to specify 'cut-off' points, it's all too easy under such a system for 'malites' wishing to do harm to a site to overload it's cut-off points and get them taken off line or cost them a pretty penny -- by the DNS lookup. What a horrible system!
Google: bad joke-meister?
I'm searching for in Google:
thunderbird "unread messages" "no longer" "in bold"
and Google asks back:
Did you mean: thunderbird "unread messages" "no longer" "in bed"?
Say WHAT?! That sounds like some game I played at a pajama pa...er nevermind.... What's google trying to do?!?
Frag of Divinity-II (drg fly); DRM, availability, rating+origins of, +sidenotes
Thanx for the heads-up on G'o'G, -- already clicked and bookmarked -- will check them out -- but either gonna make Divinity work w/copy I got or return it first since I don't wanna keep throwing good money after bad for a game that has so many flaws apart from the bugs -- it's not like it's Oblivion or such (Divinity is so much more limited, the flight system is *lame*...like driving a bus from the rear seat -- and lots of 'magic' arbitrary restrictions that make no sense other than to limit player game play.
_Some_ Divinity-II limitations (mostly dragon-form limitations):
Even though you are able to turn into a dragon as a special power, the flight control system is the same as human running (always running unless you turn on caps lock, then it's a slow walk) walking+running. Right+left are for moving right & left (x-axis movement), not turning; as a dragon, it tilts you right or left, but doesn't actually 'bank' as though you were in a turn.
Turning is with the mouse only -- but it's not a turn like with a steering wheel, it's "rotation" on the Z axis -- there is no banking or gradual turn to the right or left, it's like turning a bumper-car. But the visual feedback is BAD -- you have about a 120Â FOV, but it's completely flat/uniform no shrink at the side, so it looks like panning of a 30-60Â. There is no tilt (rotation on Y (forward-backward axis).
Even though you are above mountains @ distance, as you approach them, you are forced DOWN, so that even when you get to a pass, you can't fly through a pass, but instead have to go around, just as if you were walking -- the height away from mountains is such that you should be able to fly over all of the mountains in the central playing area (not at the edges where the mountains are higher), but as you approach any barrier, you are artificially forced down, so that you can't fly over any barrier, but must take the same path as though you were walking -- many places are like that, where you should be able to fly over things, but are artificially forced down -- would make sense if it was at the edge of a map where there was 'nothing' beyond, but it's done over all surface area except minor height objects like fences and low buildings.
To turn into a dragon, you must have a clear space above you and a space around you the size of a baseball field, even though as soon as you transform, you are placed 10 feet above the ground (you can't land or touch water in dragon form, though if you are in a clear area in water, you can turn into a dragon). But the restrictions mean that turning into human form is often a one-way transformation -- there are lots of areas where you can exist (fly into) as a dragon, but when you want to CHANGE into a dragon, you are told there isn't enough room for a dragon.
The space limitation causes a nasty game bug in one cave, fighting a demon, where the game forces you into dragon form to fight the demon, but if you change into human form to kill it (it's easier to kill as a human), you can't change back into a dragon, -- it says there is no room to take you dragon form, even though you just did it, when the game forced you to. It's completely clear overhead where you end up when you morph, but there's no baseball field of *level* space around you, so you can't change. Unfortunately, that leaves you trapped, since the entrance you come into the cave in is closed by a rock slide as soon as the demon dies. The only exit is by flying up to the top of the cavern, and approaching a path -- where you are then forced into human form and can walk out.
Note -- that in other areas, where the game isn't putting artificial restrictions on you, you can fly into rather tight spaces, but again, if you morph to human, you can morph back. In several areas, the game artificially restricts your movement like on the mountain approach -- it forces you away from the area you approached. You can't land as a dragon either.
To reiterate -- there is no up/down except by turning the direction
you are looking (as a human mouse forward = look down, mouse back =
look up), same w/dragon -- then you can move forward/backward to
actually move in direction you are looking.
Final indignity on dragon (that I can think of off hand), is that while you have a mini-map/circular-radar, of your immediate area as a human, that's all you have as a dragon -- a horizontal radar -- but no indication of height -- opponents can be above or below you with no indicator. Needless to say -- this makes flight and fighting as a dragon very difficult. They don't recognize multiple mouse buttons - right/left click and 'other' (middle), so even my 4 button mouse has one mouse button duped to same action as left-click, no config -- even with external mouse-reconfig utils that work in other games & progs.
That's just my beefs with the dragon flying -- the 'big' feature. The game *says* it uses the Nvidia physX on the box & on the in-game credit, but it lies -- disabling 'physX' makes no change in game effects or playability or frame rate, so false advertising is present in addtion to the in-game, DRM-caused bugs that are suppoed to only activate for lack-of-CDROM, but activate even in download-only versions!
The In-game, frame-rate is limited to 30FPS (FRAPS) except on the entry-cut scene where you get 300-400+. Note: there is no option to skip 'cut scenes' -- including the annoying multi-author-publisher cut scenes at the beginning of the game, so no quick ability to exit or re-enter, since re-entering requires playing of all the start-advertising cutscenes each time (I've seen worse& longer, but all were able to to be cut-short by pressing Escape/space or clicking through).
I won't bother with all the OTHER problems and game bugs...those were only some of the most irritating.
So, do I want to try again w/another distributor? Not really worth it unless many things get fixed. While developers are still active in forums, I don't see much in the way of responses to stated problems, so there is less than zero commitment to fixing any problems -- since there isn't even acknowledgment that they exist -- let alone responses to detailed problem descriptions (with 1 exception where they said to send in my save-file for dissection -- something I haven't had a chance to do yet, but plan to do so)....
A final frustration -- more than one extension/addon/complete new game that can use your old character, is available, but only in Europe. Not for sale in the US -- perhaps because while the game is rated 12+ in Europe, it has a 'M' (17+) in the US.
Bogus ratings sidenote - origins
This is NOT a divinity-only problem, but is a problem with the US game industry. I've seen a few games like that -- Europe has higher ratings than 12+, like 14+ and 16+, I think an 18+ as well for adult titles, but many things in Europe that are rated 12+, get rated M here, due to the policies of the game censorship board being controlled by Catholic backers who want to keep keep occult and non-christianist elements away from impressionable children. Another REAL annoying element, is that sexually suggestive items like even a *string* bikini you can see on any beach in Florida/So.Cal, are automatically given a 'M' rating -- just like Sci-Fi and Fox regularly censor out any rear-view's of thong-style bikinis.
In Europe, breasts are considered a normal part of the human anatomy (like chests with extra fat...have you ever seen a fat-guys chest? Some look awfully reminiscent...not to mention ex-athletes who used steroids had have breast development (called 'bitch teats in some athlete circles).
But, in the US, (I wonder how a guy would be dealt with if he got breast implants? No hormones -- just breast implant -- would they still be a chest, most laws (except in progressive areas) say women can be topless (though in more 'progressive outdoor areas, they *SAY* tops required, but it's often very unequal in enforcement).
Anyway, in the US breasts as female thong bikinis/underwear of off limits in most media these days for benefit of Christianist-censors, AND for purposes of marketing. The pseudo repression of sexuality in US media is a powerful way to keep males titillated and offers a stronger and more compelling manipulation of the largest and most financially influential demographic: males, ages teen -> ~45 (works on older males, they just aren't in the same demographic).
It has the side effect of sexualizing and marginalizing females, which has its own benefits, and that may be part of the reason it is done, but I think that's a secondary reason -- with the main reason being to keep males 'aroused' and 'wanting' -- often feeling like they are not getting 'enough', even though they get as much or more than many modern western countries.
In the contrary direction, violence is given the "OK", with many violent and explicit scenes getting a Teen or 'PG/PG-13' rating here, that in some European countries get, at least an 'R', and often an NC-17, equivalent. But those are acceptable in the US, as it trains and prepares, what has usually been a mostly male audience, to be hardened 'warriors', and to be ready to be called out to war. I'm not sure when that mission in Hollywood started -- maybe the 70's during or after Vietnam, when too many men were perceived as getting weak and soft -- there's been a major push in male culture to get them to buy into the propaganda to 'man up', 'be tough', 'suck-it-up', "don't be a wussy". That's been a message for a LONG time, but it's been emphasized more and has overridden the Christianist messages of turn-the other cheek, and though-shalt-not-murder, and love-thy-neighbor.
Amusingly, those 'Xtian' messages were considered to be 'in the way' -- an obstacle to the objectives of their 'bedfellows' who they joined with in the late 70's to gain power to fight the democratic majority with Carter hosting the last balanced budget until the 2-year period after Clinton's first 6 years in office.
Budget side note:
The Clinton balanced budget was brought to an end, as we remember, with extreme prejudice, by Bush-II, as he ushered in tax breaks primarily benefiting those making more than $200K/year: 50% of the breaks benefited the top 5% (those making>200K), adding over 2.6Trillion to the deficit (about a 50% increase over the 5.6T debt when Bush-II took office).
Under discussion now is ending those tax breaks. Obama want to let the middle class keep their share of the cuts (people making under $250K). While the GOP is refusing to compromise--saying kill all -- they are trying to protect those making over $500K/year, with the inflated dollar, the GOP plan will add an additional 680 BILLION/year to the deficit -- or 6.8Trillion over the same 10 year period as the original Bush-II plan. Compare his to the *OUTRAGE* of the 26Billion in emergency financial stimulus aid that was given to state and local governments, that the GOP claimed would bankrupt our economy! Their plan costs 2600% more in the 1st year -- but then repeats every year after that -- forever!
Anyway -- it in the late 70's that the Xtian right jumped in bed with the GOP. Since then, with the 80's (heralding the "me" generation spirited in by Reagan and his borrowing of ~1.8Trillion from the 'future' (a 280% increase of the federal deficit) a bit more slowly in the 90's (Bush-I, only 48% increase over 4 years, and Clinton with a 4.2% annual (39% over 8 years), and the 2000's under, w/Bush-II increasing it from 5.6->10T (211% inc/8yr) ), Christianist messages have been turned on their head.
More on Christianist 'co-option' ratings effects
Christianist messages of altruism, charity and it being harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle -- (this coincided (though not clear about cause/effect or chicken/egg) with the Christianist movements joining with the GOP and Republicans at the end of the 70's that produced the Reagan presidency as well as the 2 Bush presidencies. Now you have Christianist churches preaching violence as an acceptable means to fight against those with 'wrong political views', and to a lesser extent against those with wrong religious views (atheists, Jews, Muslims). And most fabulously, instead of paying attention to Christ's anger with the money changers and the rich, many extreme-wealth churches now preach that being rich is a reward from God in this life time and that being poor is a sin! (Try finding that in a bible!)...but major mega-churches preach this as gospel, as they also get their members to title 10-15% (that's donate 10-15% of their (usually) pre-tax) income!). So it's interesting how the mainstream Xtian churches have been co-opted by the GOP and government to spread the necessary messages of violence and 'money/greed is good'...
But it's this 'inside-takeover' (co-option) that has been largely responsible for the bazaar movie and game restriction codes that are in place -- where "legal" sex and related actions are given 'X' ratings, while illegal 'murder' and violent actions are given the PG/PG-13 ratings.
Is it a wonder why the crime rate has gone up and the imprisonment rate has gone up so much since the beginning of the Reagan term (other factors are involved as well, but this is one of them). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_incarceration_timeline.gif http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/00-05_REP_PunishingDecade_AC.pdf
Needless to say, all of this DRM crap really adds salt to a long history of wounds... (Sorry for this all over the place...one of those days
where so many things have such strong connections, I can't help but comment)....
DOJ investigating Apple-Google-Microsoft conspiracy
The US. Dept. of Justice looks at a "good-ol'-boys-club" ("gentleman's"[sic]) agreement to not hire each other's employees. While some sources slant the practice in a more business friendly way that the only activity that might be at issue is 'one employer trying to woo(poach) away others from their a member of their 'in-group', others point at the illegal practice and still others go the extra mile and give examples of what could easily be considered anti-competitive business practices that harm employees who might look to one of the other 'conspiring' companies for a better fit or better pay. That level of competitive restriction between the largest employers could have a noticeable and adverse effect on employee salaries and could be the basis for the DOJ's involvement.
If large companies agree not to compete for each other's employees, then employees at one of those companies would find themselves locked out of valuable (in terms of experience, and personal satisfaction, as well as monetary) job offers among the controlling clique.
Of interest are are the inter-collaborations of giants such as Microsoft, Apple and Google. Having MS & Apple, who often over extend their idea of what is their proprietary property, extend it to their employees isn't entirely surprising (though the fact that they are supposedly competitors is more than a bit suspicious), but 'do no evil'[sic?] Google?: seems a bad sign. Also mentioned were Yahoo and Genentech.
To thicken interest, the WSJ article points out that Apple and Google share at least two members on their boards of directors.
I guess the question of whether or not Google will refrain from 'doing evil', is no longer so much of a question if they are in bed with Apple and engaging in "Gentleman's"[sic!] non-compete agreements with Microsoft, in regards to employee talent.
List of [un/]supported slasdot html entites (as of postdate)
on realistic wargames being avoided for political reasons...
In reference to this article about the problems in writing realistic wargames, I commented:
So let's see, we want a 'game' with a "compelling" story-line that is based, as much as possible, on "what is 'real'":
- First, it's important to note the parallels in this story with other media trends. There are parallels in the photographic news and in books as American's "sophistication" levels have evolved over time. Now there is a demand toward more realism vs. in the past<sup>(**1)</sup>.
Now, realism demands are making stronger demands into modern gaming, where the game researchers strive for increased realism and send researchers out into the field and across world-sites for gathering actual field info for inclusion in modern simulation games (from world-photo trips for the latest LaraCroft games, to the Iraq-War Game example of gathering data from the actual war-zone to interview soldiers, AND, for realism's sake, the 'enemy' side. Makes perfect sense. But with a couple of points about the collision of reality and simulations-for-fun (games).
- Showing 'real', may collide with 'politically correct'<sup>(**2)</sup>.
- To be historically accurate, how will the illegal nature of the war being started handled (or avoided)? Is deliberate "avoision"<sup>(**3)</sup> collusion? Might such potential for collusion be regarded negatively by those judging the moral value of such a game?
- Will a game, for sake of realism, include real-life episodes (or subgames) of torture<sup>(**4)</sup> Would not including that void the "realism" aspect of the Iraqi War simulation?
In light of the realities of this war and what has been (and is being uncovered) that an attempt to portray an accurately realistic game might be judged NOT to make for "good", or "fun" "game play" is not exceptionally surprising.*cough*
Hopefully war-games and such will stop being the 'fodder' for 'fun'-role playing games as they only lead impressionable minds into believing that such war 'games' are fun and that going to war isn't very ugly when it becomes sufficiently 'realistic'.
- (**1) Parallel events are seen in the literary-world, where 'real-life' stories from those who have survived 'trauma' make NY Times best seller lists, and Oprah selected reading lists because of their 1st-hand viewpoint of the realities of events that most US readers will never come close to experiencing.
In a more "naïve" time, we contented ourselves with stories about such events. And for news, we had had produced video reals shown as entertainment-news in theaters during WWII, with stirring interpretation and music supplied by news/video-production organizations that were designed to inform, but also stir patriotic feelings of support for what was portrayed (and was mostly so) as a war against 'evil' <sup>(**1a)</sup>.
Coinciding, heavily with the advent of first-hand video reporting of the news -- starting in the Vietnam era, but continuing up through modern times, we've become sensitized to the differences between 'real-life' portrayals and the 'produced' versions of 'real-life' events, somehow believing that only 'real-life' portrayals have true and lasting value (whereas the reality depends on the depiction, but such subtleties are lost and subjectively lost for judgment by the viewer). This 'black'-or-'white' thinking of 'real' or 'fake' is permeating culture -- so much that weird 'photo-ops' need to be created at expense and possible terror, vs. creating the same with a photo-shop program<sup>(**1b)</sup>.
Much emphasis has been placed on the authenticity of book narratives written in the first-person about current events. It's of prime importance that such narratives be clearly labeled as non-fiction (meaning the person lived through them), or 'Fiction', meaning it's a story that gets relegated to a back book shelf, possible one for "current event commentary", or "political commentary" depending on the nature of the reporting. The result, though, is that masses of people who are focused only on the 'authentic', 'real-life', 'first-person' reports and events will disregard any account that is not labeled as 'non-fiction'.
- (**1a) The concept of 'evil' v. good and dividing the world, moralistically, into simple categories of 'good' and 'evil' makes for easier control of the large masses, who have little education beyond the basics. Basics meant 8 years beyond Kindergarten(introduced in latter 19th century for 4-5 year olds). Beginning in the early 20th century the movement was to increase 'basic' education to 12 years, with it being the expected standard up through the 1st half the 20th century. However, in some areas, those extra 4 years were considered 'controversial', and there was resistance.
It is notable that even today in the US, Amish children (mostly in Pennsylvania), are exempt from education beyond 8th grade, where it was considered that education beyond the 8th grade would be harmful to the Amish cultural way of life (with the exemption based on the 'religion' as being at the core of the Amish's simple way of life - rejecting nearly all modern conveniences -- until roughly the 90's when they started wanting the benefits of modern medicine to save their children's lives and extend the lives of their 'elders' who became repositories of knowledge of the 'old ways' (a contentious and troublesome issue in the Amish community considering the cost of such Medical advances and the limited ability of the Amish to produce anything of value to trade for such modern technological advances).
But the idea of ruling the large masses using simple concepts of good v. evil (strongly true when 8 years post-'K' education was the norm, and mostly true but with decreasing effectiveness when education was increased to 12 years) was a central use of the 'church', by the state (though, unofficially in the US).
There has been increasing effort by the religious right to 'dumb-down' education in the 9-12 years, as those were the years that were designed to be teaching children about the latest and most modern advances of science, math, technology and world advances, to prepare them for 'adult-hood' that was now being "postponed" till they finished their full education. Such education was considered (and is) necessary for participation in a democracy, and, especially, for participation in the increasingly modern requirements of today and tomorrow's workforce.
The efforts to remove various parts of modern education (with special emphasis on dumbing down biology and human development, among other higher social skills involving critical thought) continue into today, as schools debate and strive to lower standards for advanced science (biological, geological, astrological, physics, evolution).
- (**1b) With Reuters and other news organizations taking the hard line against *any* modifications of photos for news inclusion, for any purpose (being enforced by subsequent bans of the photographer or news-org responsible for the 'not-exactly-real' photo), to satisfy the need for "real" photos of "real planes" (even if they are empty and the entire action is staged), empty "Air Force One" jumbo jets are chased through the skies by a fighter plane around the Statute of Liberty, so a "REAL" photo can be created that satisfies real "NEWS" photo requirements (despite that what's being portrayed is a 'setup') -- since it is a real, non-photoshopped pic, it can pass NEWS organization's requirements for authentic, untouched photos!). Idiots. Following the letter of the 'law' (of journalism), to comply with legalistic picture requirements -- but missing the point that the picture was supposed to be a real-life event, not faked. But since it was a real-life-fake event, and not a photoshopped pic, that passes stringent news-picture and event requirements.
- <value=2>(**2) This happened in Vietnam, where camera views of war totally undermined support for the Administration's casual use of American boys (soldiers) in their Cold War Chess game. This type of 'on the ground', first hand reporting has grown more limited, over time.
In the first Gulf war, reporters were kept away from front lines and only permitted access to the military control centers at the rear of the action. Unfortunately they blew it when they went live with broadcasts of ongoing military operations that told the enemy exactly what we were doing in real-time and caused the failure and abortion of affected military operations.
In the Cheney-Bush-II war-operation all news communication was severely controlled by the state -- with pre-censorship fully alive and active "for the sake of national security". Not even pictures of wounded or dead US boys (soldiers), this time were allowed -- NOT even pictures of the rows and rows of coffins being returned with bodies of the dead. The Cheney-Bush-II was noted for keeping a lid on nearly all info for the sake of 'national security'.
- <value=3>(**3) Evoision - "Coined in tax-code" to refer to a moral 'grey' area, somewhere between technically legal "avoidance" and technically illegal "evasion". Used here in the sense of its morally grey implications.
- <value=4>(**4) Torture and humiliation seemed to be part of the US Cheney-Bush-II attack against 'terrorists, who justified it through legal memos as necessary evils to fight this 'new' type of war. New information confirming earlier, dis-credited excesses. The supposed actions of what the Cheney-Bush-II admin called "a few bad-apples"[sic], are now seen to have been functioning in an environment that was dictated from the top, on down through through pseudo-legal memos to perform such actions. These resulted in illegal torture techniques, where some people were knowingly violating (and some were deliberately kept 'stupid' and/or deliberately mislead about) Geneva Convention Law that applies to all foreign US military operations.
Reports of those who objected on Geneva Convention grounds who, in some cases, died days later after objecting by supposed 'suicide' are already noted (<sup>Ibid
p.s. Please excuse primitive slashdot-enforced list-number messing-up and slashdot's non-superscript support.
Cyberspies hack into USA electric et al. Grids
The Wall Street Journal published an article this morning that says remote-controlled software was found in electric-grid systems to allow future disruption of the grid.
The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems.
Many of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies.
There are claims that Chinese or Russian hackers are behind the break-ins. Officials from both governments deny knowing of any involvement. Both statements could be true. The hacks could have come from Chinese or Russian hackers not working under their government's direction.
I didn't know so many of those control systems were "online" and accessible through the internet. I thought they were deliberately kept off the internet to prevent exactly this type of problem. It seems I was giving utilities more credit than was due. Talk about being "caught with your pants down".
I'm wondering how much of this is reactionary hype (the only source is the WSJ). If hackers had broken into multiple utility control computers, does anyone think it likely that NONE of them would have exercised or tried the control to see if they actually could control or shut down a system? They have done so in other countries, but have not heard of such here, so I'm wondering how much real danger was actually found vs. evidence of attempts to hack in and gain control. Unfortunately, the WSJ isn't likely to be a level-story source for something like this. Making the attempted break-ins sound more "alarming" would be in the Journal's interests (journalistically and politically).
Earth's population: 'exceeding limits'
Looks like a few more people are beginning to wake up to the facts.
A US Science advisor, originally to Condoleezza Rice, but now to Hillary Clinton, Dr. Fedoroff, says we need to work on decreasing the growth rate -- we are approaching limits and are really probably over the limit of what the Earth can comfortably support.
I keep wondering who they idiots are that think earth can support multiple times the current population -- do they expect people to be hot-swapping beds and living spaces? Is everyone comfortable with their quality of life at that density? Could they be? Are there sufficient resources for everyone to be comfortable now with their quality of life? I certainly don't see anything close to a sign that even half of the world's population are happy or comfortable with their lives. Is it intelligent to condemn our species to increased misery and condemn other species on the earth to extinction in order grow, or, even maintain current population?
Earth *could* support more if **magic occurs** and we get unlimited, free, nonpolluting energy in unlimited volumes. But I don't see that happening in the near future...sure 'fusion' is just around the corner...but for how many decades has it been so? Given current tech we may be exceeding earth's population limits even now to allow for long-term sustainability of the planet. But if some don't care about our future as a species or about other species and a sustainable existence on the earth, then I believe those people are in the true evil among us that need to be dealt with in order for humanity to survive.
Another Seagate drive goes belly up -- 3 in 2 months
GRR....woke up this morning to an evil email about another drive gone dead. Another 750G SATA. That's my 3rd Seagate SATA drive gone dead in the past 2 months 1-750G in Dec., 1-1T at beginning of Jan, and another 750G this morning...
What is this?? I been adding more fans & cooling when my 400GB Seagates went out after only ~30 months (out of a 5 year warrantee, but I don't care about warrantee, I want them to last, not be replaceable!). My idle drives maybe run in the 30-35C range, under load I try to keep them under 40C -- have alerts set for 38C. So I'm pretty sure these latest drives have maintained their cool. I *still* have a 750G ATA drive that's running 'fine'...That scares me -- But outlasting all of them are some 15K SCSI drives that I know have run hot in the past before they got dedicated cooling fans (didn't realize how warm they got and that case fans weren't enough). But the 15K SCSI's are running at twice the speed -- yet they are lasting 4-5 years or more (I replace drives before fail when I can -- at the first sign of a sector remap).
But the sector/track remapping, that's adds another question. Am I to believe that one the 750GB went to getting some unreadable sectors before fail, but it was less than a year old -- died it run out of spare tracks and sectors? I thought it should be able to handle some failures before exposing bad sectors to the user -- and allocate spare blocks. Two out of three 400, and 1 out of the 2 750GB drives showed unrecoverable sector read errors that I couldn't get rid of by reformatting or overwriting the partition or files. I'd hope that a write would remap a known bad sector -- back 5-10 years ago, hmmm....I think I had more IBM/Hitachi drives -- so maybe that's the difference. Looks like Seagate is going down hill in quality fast -- but this all seems to have happened since they purchased MAXTOR -- almost as if Maxtor's low quality disks were being sub'ed in for Seagate drives?
I had something similar happen on my Seagate 1TB -- it was a retail box, but inside was a OEM model 1TB disk -- the serial numbers MATCHED, but the model numbers did not. Fry's eventually took it back because I argued it was an open-box when I bought it and it could have been switched -- but both the Fry's person and I suspected the switch had happened at the Seagate factory -- which the Fry's person was still willing to 'cover', since they'd sold me a drive, fraudulently (in retail, 5-yr warrantee box, but with OEM-no warrantee disk inside).
Maybe this is someone at Seagate giving Fry's a bad deal due to the Fry's payola scandal. Seems trite, but someone might have been out for some payback.
MS research proves placebo effect works w/software as well
I keep seeing these advertisements about Windows "Mohave" -- a ad campaign where they convince 'everyday users' (i.e. people who don't know squat about computers) how great Vista is by fooling them into trying it on specially tuned systems provided by Microsoft. Of course, the systems provided by MS have all certainly been equipped with high-end hardware, and pre-installed and pre-tuned by MS engineers to shine. And the non-computer savvy types see the new Vista interface and, of course, "oo" and "ah" over the high end interface (only in premium versions of windows costing up to hundreds extra on top of the high end hardware).
The 'computer-ignorant' "users" were easily fooled by MS and thought it would great to try it home...so the ads would have us believe.
So what does this tell us? If you throw computers at customers that cost 3-4x what mid-range computers cost and pre-tune and set them up with the most user-friendly settings and extra hardware (how man computers, available today, 'come' with the ability to receive HD-TV already built-in? Even if you buy an HDTV card, how many would be able to save HD-video & audio to disk "in the background"... OR are they only intending to sell these computers as "Media Centers" -- and not general purpose computers? Did they show any of the consumers the feature where NBC "accidentally" tests remote blocking of end-user recording of their favorite programs? I'm sure they'll love Vista once they've switched over and depend on it to record their favorite shows...
Vista got a bad wrap because it was evaluated by experts and compared to Windows XP. It was slower and provided little to no user benefit. The only beneficiary of Vista was NBC & Hollywood. Of course Apple users have nothing to feel smug about, Apple has bowed down and added the same DRM to all their new system.
Upcoming, probably more for the computer experts, is 'Windows 7' -- already said not to be a radical departure or change from Vista. But the problem is -- all the things added to Vista that slow down drivers and performance and remove user rights -- they all be in Windows 7. So how would Win7 be different from a Vista SP2 or SP3? I'm guessing most of the work on Win7 will be to support new hardware and to address performance problems -- so reviewers won't slam it as bad as they did Vista. MS has already lowered expectations with Vista, so even if they get back all of the speed lost in Vista -- will it be any faster or better than XP? Or is it just another offering to seduce us into a MS-NBC-Hollywood media controlled future?
Perhaps Windows 7 is more like a "Mohave 2" (with no real improvements, and almost as good as XP in performance (even with all the DRM layers in the background). MS may also be hoping that the price of high-end hardware will come down to mid and lower price-points so consumers can buy more computer to handle the 'basic' Aero-version. But since most consumers will want media playin too, they'll be persuaded to buy 'ultimate' to get Windows Media Player (a free download under XP, but a new level of expense when sold as part of Vista).
So much for computers being a benefit for all mankind. Instead of being used to further knowledge, their biggest use appears that it will be to further subdivide waning resources in order maximize money extraction from the masses to the elite. But hey, it's the word of God: For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they seem to have will be taken away (Math 13:12 + 25:29, Mark 4:25, Luke 8:18 + 19:25-6, Thomas 31:1). Hmm...when Christians say the US is a 'Christian' nation are they really meaning Christianity = Capitalism? Interesting...
Gulf war syndrome acknowledged as physical not psychological
Certainly no big surprise to me -- and not that it really should matter (given research on effectiveness of placebos and potential harm of 'nocebos'), but A committee of scientiests setup by the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs has reported physical causes for Gulf War Syndrome (organophosphate nerve gas, nerve gas remedies and insecticides) as reported in this New Scientist article.
And yet another of one of those "all in your head" diseases is now shown to be real. When will medical science learn -- that just because they can't find or don't know the cause doesn't mean it is psychological -- especially when large groups report similar symptoms...
Maybe this will get some vets some much needed treatment & respect (though I won't hold my breath).
Radioactive decay...maybe not so 'constant'?
Anomalous events measuring decay of radioactive isotopes have been noticed in what seem to be events correlated with our nearest 'heavy-duty' nuclear reactor (the sun). Coinciding with X-ray bursts (but before any solar flare particles would reach the earth) -- and even on the dark-side of the earth -- odd effects in radioactive decay of various substances has been noted.
In the most recent case, the test was on the dark side -- at the moment of a sun's X-Ray burst at the start of a solar flare -- but long before the charged particles from the flare could get to earth and even longer than it would take for those reactions to percolate around the atmosphere to the 'backside' of the earth. Neutrino emission variations are one possible explanation.
Other tests on other isotopes have also noticed small but regular variations that coincided with the seasons by +/- 0.3%.
Variation implies faster and slower decay? The reasons for the variations haven't been identified -- but have been noticed
with some regularity -- a minor curiosity, or a way to detect incoming solar flares? Or a way to control (speed up/slow down)
radioactive decay -- allowing for tuning of radioactive output rather than blocking it with absorption materials. Could be start of something fun...or just a wobble in earth's orbit...who knows?
Need to organize+divide/expand: Win7/DRM/flavors/oils/...
this is an old MS trick -- they publish and document it when writing software for their platform -- you need to give the user feedback 'action' -- so they think the computer is doing something -- this is part of the reason why progress bars on windows jump all over the place -- they don't really indicate %done, often, but often crude estimations like trying to decide how much of your file system you've done a find through by only looking at the TLD's. Well when it gets to the "W"'s, it might take a bit longer to enumerate the Windows dir unless they build-in a pre-fudge.
The point is that Vista-V7 (aka Vista v2, windows 7) isn't going to get faster unless the hardware speeds up. MS has added some new layers of mis^h^h^hindirection between the HW and SW -- mostly for DRM purposes. They needed to secure -- and not screw it up or hollywood wouldn't trust them as a distribution platform. Just like several months back... the auto-record features built-in to media player and the Win-Media player versions -- they needed to ensure that they would properly NOT record digital broadcast programs off the air when NBC(of MSNBC) "accidently" turned on the do not allow local time-shifting or recording "flag". They want to prove the superiority of the Windows platform to deliver content by having superior DRM controls on windows which will be slow enabled over time -- but to do all that they had to totally change the driver layer -- disallowing all old XP drivers (except maybe in some degraded compat mode), and get HW manufacturers to only release MS certified drivers. Only drivers certified by MS to conform to MS's security standard will get a signature -- so only signed drivers can be used in a trusted path. It might be the case that if *any* untrusted drivers are loaded, some content providers my disallow playback. It's all about control and prying more rights away from consumers.
We are living a world with mostly fixed resources. The only way for companies to 'grow' (a requirement for businesses in the real world or die -- stagnation isn't good enough) is to further subdivide the rights you already have and and get you(the consumer) used to paying for smaller and smaller portions --
It's like in the US-NorCal region, at least, both Pepsi and Coke (thus virtually all soft drinks) switch from a common 12-pack (advertised to fit perfectly in the fridge -- it did), to an 8-pack (which doesn't, to fill up the same space you need to buy 3 packs and put one sideways in the back. Less ideal, more packaging, more waste). But it allows them to raise the price the per-unit price by 25%, while reducing the package cost by 8% (approx). You can't have major packs of food going for more than certain 'magic amounts' people are used to -- the magic amounts go up slowly, but the other way is to reduce size, and charge near the same...then slowly inch up the price again...repeat.
Perhaps it's just me, but have you ever noticed when some cracker or chip company releases a new flavor of chips or crackers or similar, they'll be bursting with flavor -- then after a promotion period where the advertiser has touted the ALL NEW EXPLOSIVELY INTENSE FLAVOR of NEW XXYZ, the stop adding as much flavoring...and slowly over a 6-12 month period the amount of flavoring drops off till you almost need a an unflavored variety eaten side-by-side to the flavored variety to detect any difference at all.
The effects on this are 'two-fold'. 1), For the consumer who craves the new taste -- they slowly need to start taking more and more of the drug, er, food, to get the same 'taste-fix'. This goes on until the new product is 'cut' too much with non-flavor stuff (white-bread cracker filler - empty carbs and unhealthy (saturated or trans) oils).
The unhealthy oils are used because because the 'healthy oils' (like hemp oil, flax-seed oil, evening primrose, some fish oils, that have Essential Daily Fatty Acids (just as "Essential" as vitamins) have short shelf-lives (on the order of dairy products). One of the main characteristics that make them healthy and essential in your body are their chemical instability -- your body can use them to create necessary components. Unfortunately this isn't good for product shelf life. Pure hemp or flax seed oil where health is concerned are sold in dark bottles (light proof), and sometimes sealed with Nitrogen -- and even then are kept in the refrigerated sections and have a stamped expiration date measured in a few-several weeks (depending on how they were packaged and refined). An excellent book on the oils and fatty acids "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill: The Complete Guide to Fats, Oils Cholesterol and Human Health". The author also sells his own mixture to take advantage of the hype, but the best (as measured by ideal balance of EA's for humans) oil(hemp) and the close competitors are available slightly less expensively, but still at stiff prices due to government control (legality of Hemp, for example).
Anyway -- once the manufacturer notices that his customers are falling off -- because the "flavor" component is too low to support a "flavor craving" habit -- (cut w/too much non-flavor) -- they restart the cycle. New add campaign -- about the "whole new and improved" product xxyzz, with more flavor than ever -- it's a BLAST". So you try it again, because you liked the flavor -- and if it is the drug^h^h^h^h flavor of choice that stimulates your endorphins -- then you are hooked again. The process repeats...ad infinitum.
Some products are easier to manipulate in cycles, than others. The leap from records to 8-tracks was a poor first media attempt, and cassettes were as much of an annoyance as a help -- but CD's offered the 1st big thing. VHS -> DVD was the first successful transition in video -- now they sell entire seasons of some shows for Gini coefficients too high for the masses to afford the new tech) and insufficient driving reason. As in the record/LP industry->CD conversion, it may take a few years to raise the prices of the DVD's to meet Blue Ray -- once they are equal, people will eventually convert and (the industry hopes) rebuy all the movies you already have in the new format.
With videos -- even songs, though, even stronger subdivisions are already being marketed and sold as common to a younger generation -- who's now used to buying songs by the 1-at-a-time 1$/ea, but then repaying to have it on their cell phone, or repaying again to have it as a ringtone, and in some cases -- (usually business models that have, so far, failed, but they will keep trying) charging per-device -- or, the Holy Grail -- charging you the full retail price each time you want to view or listen to the media.
Thus Vista-2 (win7) is another attempt to convince people to switch over to the "new secure" platform where Windows hopes to allow content providers to provide the detailed level of control they crave -- it will then only be a matter of market acceptance -- playing with price and availability to continually raise prices and lower expectations among new users. The older users who are used to full access will always whine and complain, but those who have grown up on the iPod generation -- just downloading songs on the whim, one at a time, will be easier to nudge into pay-per-device and pay-per-view models.
The sad thing about it -- is that most of it is not about providing new features and new value to users -- it's just about realigning their perceptions so you can continue to get value out of capital assets (IP) that you already own -- then you've basically set yourself up as a 'service provider' that can get a payment from you monthly whether you use the service or not -- an even better state to be in than charge for even a electronic-evaporating song or video.
Why spend money in R&D to develop newer & better (which, being a creative process is not a stable business model) when you can just spend your R&D in better ways money extraction?
Universal, remote, cell-phone control? Echelon? Real?
I found the following in an article about the Big Brother that may be coming to a the inside of a computer near you". (Assuming you don't have it already). In particular, the author refers to this capacity already existing in nearly everyone's cell-phone.
In the late 1990s, many complaints were filed about a believed-to-exist, yet unproven and undisclosed technology in cell phones called ECHELON. This technology was later acknowledged to exist and is now known to be in nearly all modern day cell phones. The only way to disable it is to remove the battery from the phone, thus rendering the device useless to ECHELON - but also the user.
ECHELON is a hidden system which operates in the background in cell phones. Its purpose is to grant remote access to the phone's microphone and data files. The remote authority (typically an authorized government agency (FBI, police, etc.,) working under a duly authorized search warrant, but theoretically anybody who has access to the cell phone network) can access a phone, turn its features on and off and access all of its data. Any cell phone files, including camera images and voice data, can then be searched or sent across the cell phone network at any time.
The ECHELON system inside of cell phones operates only in the background. It allows the phone operate normally from all outward signs and without any observable changes in behavior for the user. In fact, the average user would never know ECEHLON was even present or working as everything it does is totally behind the scenes and outside of the user's awareness. This is also its appeal to governments, authorized agencies, and of course hackers.
I thought it was only "special" phones -- not all phones. Is it really the case that anyone (or any capable hacker) can tap into your cellphone and activate the microphone and camera without any sign that the phone has been tapped into?
This seems more than a little bit discomforting...
Michael Moore's to release new film on NET - Free!
Michael Moore is releasing his new movie "Slacker Uprising" as a free download for 3 weeks starting Tuesday, September 23. It's a full, no DRM, freely copyable film -- for 3 weeks, then goes to DVD afterward at a low price.
He's been touring the swing states from the last election to convince non-voting "slackers" to vote -- he's even been handing out a clean change of underwear and free Ramen noodles as a gimmick to reach tempt and reach audiences.
Of course some Republicans are looking into pressing charges against Moore, for his actions, claiming he is trying to buy votes by handing out free underwear and noodles (they must be joking). Of course, corruption charges, coming from Republicans is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.
Looks like it could be interesting....Moore's movie is said to have a democratic bias....can't imagine that! :-)
Enzyte-"Smiling Bob" gets 25yrs, $93K fine $500M forfeit.
If this isn't news for nerds watching late night sci-fi and such...
Consumerist reports an Associated Press release that Steve Warshak, 42 was found guilty of 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. His 75-yr/old mother who has cancer was found found guilty of conspiracy and other charges and was sentenced to 2-years but is free, pending appeal. US District Judge Arthur Spiegel, in Cincinnati, OH, denied Mr. Warshak's request to remain free pending appeal but gave him 30 days to wrap up his affairs and report to prison.
Besides Enzyte, Washak's company, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, who also distributes products to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid sleep, will be allowed to stay in business -- but must forfeit $500 million.
Among their most egregious offenses was a requirement of a Notarized statement from a doctor certifying that they had a small penis. Amazingly, remarkably few customers availed themselves of the refund offer.
Unfortunately, it looks like the commercials will still be able to continue...*sigh*...