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AdNauseam Browser Extension Quietly Clicks On Blocked Ads

Joe Gillian Re:Isn't that click fraud? (285 comments)

The real vector for malicious ads these days is on mobile devices. I can't tell you how many websites I see that will automatically redirect you to a full-screen ad asking you to "PLEASE INSTALL OUR MOBILE APP". In most cases, their "mobile app" consists of launching the site's "mobile page" but with additional advertising and tracking cookies. In the worst cases, the ad is designed so that touching anywhere on it will attempt to install the app, except for a tiny red X in the corner that is very difficult to touch without zooming in (which in some cases can be interpreted by the browser as touching the ad).

Sure, this isn't malicious advertising in that it's trying to install a worm or virus without my consent, but it's still software that I don't want and have no intention of installing.

about a month and a half ago

Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet"

Joe Gillian An Unresolvable Problem (179 comments)

The real problem is that there is nowhere to store data that is completely neutral as long as the US and the Five Eyes countries are free to ignore international law. Encryption can help, but not as long as the NSA or GCHQ can monitor everything and put backdoors in.

about 4 months ago

Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

Joe Gillian Double Fine is a bad example. (215 comments)

With Double Fine, there's a lot of questions about how the money was spent - many of which have gone unanswered. For instance, Tim Schaefer initially said he would need $400,000 to make a full game. Granted, he arrived at that number using numbers from games he made in the early 90s, but then it spiralled out of control into a $3.3 million project. The numbers he HAS released show that he spent almost the entire initial amount - $400,000 - on "backer rewards".

The $3.3 million barely covered the first half of the game, and that was on top of another few million in crowdfunding that Schaefer did shortly before release date. They still don't have a released date set for the second half, other than "We're working on it and it might be out by the end of the year."

about 4 months ago

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Joe Gillian Stephen King and Rage (441 comments)

Stephen King did something very similar to this years and years ago, under virtually the same circumstances. He wrote a book called "Rage", under a pseudonym, which was about a fictional school shooting in a setting that would've amounted to the present when the book was written. Of course, the shooter in Rage was also portrayed sympathetically (he goes insane because all of his classmates are assholes). There were even cases where the shooters in actual school shootings were carrying around copies of Rage, which made him (voluntarily) pull the book from publication.

Yet strangely, I don't recall anything about Stephen King being arrested in the middle of the night and involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

about 5 months ago

Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk

Joe Gillian Fun with Printers (64 comments)

What I'd do with this thing is queue up several hundred copies of Goatse and have it follow me around, spewing Goatse across the entire building. This will accomplish two things:

1. Everyone will want to know where the hell the printer is, and come looking for it (and thus find Goatse).

2. I will finally get to hear someone say "Why is that man spewing Goatse everywhere?"

about 5 months ago

How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

Joe Gillian I don't know what's scarier about this article (111 comments)

The fact that a 67-year-old grandmother from Tennessee has more progressive views on municipal internet than a large portion of the rest of the country, or that AT&T stepped in and threatened a 67-year-old grandmother over her attempt to provide municipal internet to her community.

about 5 months ago

Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Memory In Humans

Joe Gillian Re:Let's get this out of the way... (74 comments)

Oh great, NOW you tell me. I already stole all the magnets from the company kitchen and made a hat out of them. Oh well, if nothing else it'll be a great conversation starter.

about 5 months ago

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Joe Gillian We already know how they do it. (248 comments)

In a sub-basement of the Nebraska Avenue Complex, the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, sit a couple of men staring at a computer screen and talking to each other in heavily accented English. The screen fades to white for a fraction of a second as it refreshes, the image changing from a young white woman to a man of Middle Eastern descent - a dentist in Seattle, but these men would never think to look that up. One of the men, brown-haired with an average build, his arms and legs containing a bit of muscle from his time at what he proudly refers to as "Fort Buttfuck, Texas" but his slight gut telling the real story of years spent "analyzing" various persons of interest and inhaling massive lunches purchased on the government's dime turns to his friend, a slightly shorter man from a small town in Oklahoma who is missing one of his front teeth. Unlike his friend, he's purely lean, having spent a good chunk of his taxpayer-funded salary on an expensive gym in Maryland - one that's popular with some of the senators when they come down to Washington to do business.

"Hey Earl," the first man says, "You reckon this guy's a terrorist?" he asks, pronouncing "terrorist" as "turrorist".

"I dunno, Clete, I reckon he might be," the second man replies. "Think we should ask the NSA for some intel?"

Clete thinks for a moment. "Reckon we 'oughta. I'll make the call."

Clete reaches to his left, past a hill of Taco Bell wrappers, and picks up a single throwing dart from a beer can he'd cut in half one day when business had been slower. Just to the the right of the screen (but far enough away that the screen won't be hit, because Earl caught hell from their supervisor after he put a dart through the last screen) with a clear line of sight to Clete's chair, a dartboard hangs from a nail in the wall. A printed-out sign (Comic Sans, of course) above it reads "NSA". An identical dartboard, with an identical sign, hangs on the left of the screen for Earl's use.

With a deep inhale, Clete tenses his arm, letting it go as he exhales. The dart sails across the room and embeds itself in the wall half an inch from the rim of the dartboard. Clete could've sworn he had better aim than this - after five years of experience, he was pretty good at darts - but one look at Mt. Bud (Earl's pet name for the pile of empty beer cans they tossed into a corner for the janitors to clean up. Clete had always reckoned that they were illegals, but they picked up the beer cans well enough.) told him he'd probably had one or two too many. "Fuckin' shit!" Clete cried in anger. Earl was beating him by 10 points now, which meant Clete would be paying for the drinks after work. "Yeah Earl, reckon he's a turrorist."

Earl dutifully pulls out a small remote control, one that has only two buttons - the red button and the green button. Green means go, red means No-Fly list. He presses the red button, and a large red circle with a cross through it, the standard "NO" sign, appears over the face on the screen. There's a whirring from the back of the room as the computer prints out the paperwork to add the dentist from Seattle, who had never had any terrorist affiliations in his life, to the No-Fly list, complete with an automated version of Clete's hastily-scrawled signature at the bottom, with Earl's underneath as a witness. The image on screen changes to another photo, this one of a teenager. Earl takes a long pull from his beer. He's got this one.

about 5 months ago

Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

Joe Gillian Re:Why don't steam offer refunds. (139 comments)

Correction to that: they do refunds, but only in one of two cases:

1. You bought the game as a pre-order and it has not yet been released.

2. They will occasionally do refunds as a "one-time customer support gesture".

I've seen a lot of stuff on Steam (and other distribution services that don't allow refunds) that makes me think we need a ruling like this in the United States.

Best recent example I can think of is a game called From Dust. From Dust had Ubisoft's always-online DRM on it, a fact that wasn't made clear for people who pre-ordered the game (it was like a $10 game and I had heard of the person directing it, so I bought it). I don't think a single mention of the DRM was made until a day or two after the game officially released. To make matters worse, the game ran like crap on pretty much every machine out there and had a whole bunch of stability issues. I logged almost an hour "played" trying to get the game to launch. There were people on Steam's forums calling for a refund due to the deceptive DRM practices. I actually applied for a refund, if I remember correctly, only to be told that I could get the refund as a "one-time customer support gesture".

Naturally, I didn't want to blow something like that on a $10 game, so I just kept it. I don't think Ubisoft ever actually fixed From Dust into a playable state, and I'm told it wasn't that great of a game anyway.

about 5 months ago

Google Testing Drone Delivery System: 'Project Wing'

Joe Gillian I can see it now (52 comments)

A hurricane hits the southern United States, as hurricanes tend to do. Thousands of people are without food or water, and desperate to get somewhere with food and shelter. Suddenly, a thousand Google drones descend from the sky, carrying much-needed supplies. The people rush toward the landing zones, only to hear:

"Please log in with your Google + account."

One brave man attempts to do so, and the voice continues.

"I'm sorry, but Google now offers new account options. You can choose to merge your existing account, xxNarutoFan93xx, with your personal email registered to Robert Smith. Would you like to do that now and get a free Google + page, or do you have an existing brand or company and not wish to change your displayed name at this time?"

Like the riddle of the Sphinx, the pointless options are too much for poor Robert Smith, alias xxNarutoFan93xx, who slinks back into the crowd, still hungry and thirsty.

about 5 months ago

Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page

Joe Gillian Re:This seems like something MS would do. (171 comments)

Not the browser - the sponsored new tab page. A majority of Firefox users have automatic updates enabled, so when Firefox updates to add the Sponsored New Tab page, a majority of Firefox users will also have it because it's turned on by default.

about 5 months ago

PHP 5.6.0 Released

Joe Gillian Re:It's powerful, but.. (118 comments)

Nope! I don't code at all, but I had friends who coded pretty heavily in PHP and tried to learn it once. I spent a few hours one day looking at the list of functions included with PHP, and sure enough those two are in the official PHP documentation. To this day, I have no idea why they needed two built-in functions to determine when Easter was, or who it was they were expecting would use them... or why Easter, of all days.

about 5 months ago

PHP 5.6.0 Released

Joe Gillian It's powerful, but.. (118 comments)

Have they come up with another way to calculate the number of days between any given day and Easter yet? I've been waiting for years for a third function to be added to easter_days and easter_date.. a sort of holy trinity, if you will.

about 5 months ago

Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page

Joe Gillian This seems like something MS would do. (171 comments)

Don't mistake me for a zealot, because I'm not. However, this move seems a lot like something the Microsoft of the early 2000s - when IE had near-100% marketshare and Firefox was still called Firebird - would do, and the kind of thing Mozilla should be fighting against.

IE got where it was at that time because of how it was forced upon everyone who bought a copy of Windows, and there was no easy way to opt-out. It won a monopoly by default, and this was one of the reasons that the Mozilla Foundation came along and developed Firefox. One of the senior Firefox devs said a year or so ago to one of his critics (it was on here somewhere) that what was important to him and to Mozilla was not that you use Firefox or that Firefox even be the dominant browser. What was important to him is that you have a choice of browsers so that another situation in which IE (or any other browser) gains near-100% market share never happens again.

This sounds like the same sort of thing. It's on by default, is obscure to disable (I personally can never remember the command to turn the new tab window off and have to look it up every time) and isn't something people are going to want. It's going to gain a monopoly by default, just like IE did. Using IE's tactics is not a good thing, and we can see why from IE itself. I might not hate it as much if there was a simple button in the preferences menu that reads "Turn off the New Tab Page" or "Disable Sponsored Links on the New Tab Page".. but there isn't. If anything, this should be opt-in "Would you like to support Firefox and the Mozilla Foundation by turning on sponsored links on the New Tab page?" instead of opt-out.

about 5 months ago

Anita Sarkeesian, Creator of "Tropes vs. Women," Driven From Home By Trolls

Joe Gillian Re:Slashdot comments indicative of the problem (1262 comments)

I don't think you got my point, they were telling people NOT to do that. By Five Guys, I mean the burger chain. In Zoe's case, it actually IS important that she supposedly slept with 5 guys, because all of them were members of the games industry. Like I said, no one cares about her or who she slept with - what's important is the jobs the people she was sleeping with held.

about 5 months ago

Anita Sarkeesian, Creator of "Tropes vs. Women," Driven From Home By Trolls

Joe Gillian Re:Slashdot comments indicative of the problem (1262 comments)

I do know that this article is poorly written. They mention Zoe Quinn being harassed, but in reality, that harassment was people trying to discover the truth about whether or not a games journo was promoting her game at the same time that he was having an intimate relationship with her. Zoe Quinn is a despicable human being - and it's not because she's a woman. Let me give you an example from the long line of proof of what she's done.

There's a group called The Fine Young Capitalists that were trying to host a game jam specifically directed at female developers - the entire point was to promote women in gaming. TFYC were getting funding for it, and then Zoe Quinn stepped in and had them shut down, implying that they were being misogynists. In reality, she wanted them shut down because she was hosting her own game jam, which had become a bloated, fund-sucking monstrosity that still has no concrete details as to when or where it's taking place. All of this is proven fact. By the way, TFYC did get their game jam funded.. by 4chan.. and it's pulling in plenty of female developers.

There's also the part where she's declaring harassment because people are trying to find out the truth about whether or not she unethically used an intimate relationship with a games journalist to promote Depression Quest. The fact that she had an intimate relationship with Nathan Grayson is a big deal, especially considering that they officially started dating less than a week after Grayson's article was published, and there is evidence that the relationship may have existed before that but was kept away from public view.

Everyone, even 4chan, have admitted that the sex scandal is about the game journo (and the sites he worked for), not about Zoe Quinn. Every single thread on the issue is filled with people specifically telling everyone NOT to harass her, or to wear Five Guys t-shirts (according to her ex, she cheated on him with five different guys during their relationship, one of whom was Nathan Grayson) to cons where she would be present. I think everyone but the media recognizes at this point that the Quinn scandal is about corruption in journalism - the only reason anyone even cares about Zoe Quinn's sex life is because it highlights the possibility for corruption on Nathan Grayson's part.

Now, I'm not saying that Zoe Quinn ISN'T being harassed outside of the investigation into the facts of the Grayson case - in fact, I'm sure some idiots, including some idiots from 4chan, are doing that. However, the article's author makes it seem like the Grayson affair is being investigated so closely simply to harass Zoe Quinn, which could not be further from the truth.

about 5 months ago

Death Valley's Sailing Stones Caught In the Act

Joe Gillian Re:I might've heard of these guys (48 comments)

They used to be a rock band back in the 70s, but lost their magnum opus - "Come Sail Away" - in a scandal involving the theft of their lyric sheets by Styx during their joint "Can't Break my Bones" tour. Their lead singer decided that rock and roll was too corporate and went solo, last I heard he does some kinda crazy Burning Man shit where he gets naked in a mud field and records the sound the wind makes in different places. The rest of them made a comeback tour in the 90s, but had their comeback hit, song called "Can't Stop the Rock" stolen by some asshole. Nowadays, I think they're still cranking out indie albums under their own label because they're sick of all the posers stealing their music.

about 5 months ago

Indiana University Researchers Get $1 Million Grant To Study Memes

Joe Gillian Re:Let me help them (126 comments)

Plenty of them from 4chan:

Happy Negro
Reidick ("She is cute, that is why she is called Rei-chan!")
Nigra Cell (before it was sanitized and turned into "SHOOP DA WOOP")
Bix Nood
Milhouse is not a meme (is a meme)
Longcat (again, before Reddit got their filthy hands on it)
Divided by Zero
Pool's Closed, AIDS, etc.
W.T. Snacks (Around Snacks, CP was lax)
Ondore ("Don't believe Ondore's lies! I'm Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca!")
Has anyone ever gone so far
Hanyuu (really the entirety of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF CAKE (and really, the entirety of Umineko no Naku Koro ni)
I'm going to post this every day until you like it ("How does a polar bear know what apples is?")
That fucking cat

I'm sure I forgot some.

about 5 months ago

Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

Joe Gillian What can be done about this? (109 comments)

I know there are all kinds of chronic health problems that can emerge from extended stays in space - heart problems being the big one, since the heart doesn't like going from microgravity to Earth gravity abruptly. Yet, it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot to be done about it unless we find a way to generate gravity in space. Has any research been done on mitigating the effects of space?

about 5 months ago

Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

Joe Gillian Re:As predicted by Kenneth Miller, in 2006! (528 comments)

I, for one, welcome the day I can get a degree in alchemy. That way, when I attempt to convert basic chemicals (acetone, pseudoephedrine, etc) into gold using methamphetamine as an intermediary, I can tell the cops I'm doing my doctoral thesis and everything will be perfectly legitimate. Whoever said you can't convert base chemicals into gold was wrong - they just weren't doing it right.

about 5 months ago


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