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Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

Joe Gillian I take offense! (153 comments)

I take offense to the idea that Donald Rumsfeld is some kind of racist who only eats Mexican babies. Donald Rumsfeld isn't a racist - he eats babies of all races equally, without taking the color of their skin or their nationality into consideration. Have a little respect for the man!

11 hours ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

Joe Gillian Giant ground sloths are extinct? (242 comments)

You guys sure about that? I'm pretty sure there's one sleeping a few cubes down from mine. At least, I hope that's a giant ground sloth...

12 hours ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

Joe Gillian Re:Bullshit (174 comments)

Providing choice in providers doesn't really help all that much. I would know, living in central Connecticut. In CT, we have exactly two power companies - Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating. UI only serves a small portion of the state, so CL&P has a monopoly over the vast majority of the state. Technically, you're free to choose your power provider.. except all of the providers are CL&P. The state had to add de-regulation language to allow the "choice' in providers, and most of the people in the legislature acknowledge it was a gigantic mistake to do so.

As a result, Connecticut residents pay some of the highest electric rates in the country, and we get worse service - it took CL&P weeks to clean up after Irene and an October snowstorm we had a few years ago because they were busy sending all of their workers to other states because it was more profitable to do so.

13 hours ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

Joe Gillian Re:Uncertainty/fear? (521 comments)

I'm not sure that this is still true, but don't you go blind for a few minutes while the procedure is going on? That's what frightens me - the thought that I might go blind and not have my sight come back.

yesterday
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Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists

Joe Gillian What about existing evidence? (207 comments)

I know that Black Holes aren't supposed to be observable - but I thought there were observations of other things, such as things being eaten by black holes and the interactions between a black hole's massive gravity well and the environment around it. If this study is right, shouldn't the astrophysicists who first observed the by-products of black holes have been able to see them?

yesterday
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Sony Agrees To $17.75m Settlement For 2011 PSN Attack

Joe Gillian Re:The games (66 comments)

Considering that stolen credit cards alone go for upwards of $40 each (according to articles I've seen) based on how high the credit limit on them is, this seems like a total ripoff. I also question the $9 per game value for the PSP stuff - most of the PSP games on PSN are $5. I brought my Vita to work, so I'll check it out on lunch break and report back.

yesterday
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GOG.com Announces Linux Support

Joe Gillian Re:GOG discovers DOSBOX works on Linux (78 comments)

I think it's also important that they're finding a market of Linux users who are willing to pay for games. One of the big complaints that modern publishers have about releasing their games on Linux is that they can't do the same things with DRM on Linux that they can with Windows, therefore no one will pay for their games and everyone will pirate instead. This is one of the obstacles Valve ran into with the Steam Box (which will run Linux) and they fought that perception by encouraging developers to release games as "Steam Play" that work on MacOS and Linux as well as Windows. Getting publishers to make their games Linux-compatible would mean that the PC gaming audience could finally run Linux without having to worry about having Windows for games.

yesterday
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Empathy For Virtual Characters Studied With FMRI Brain Imaging

Joe Gillian Re:Control issues? (50 comments)

In the study itself, they mention that the participants were given a tutorial on how the controls worked - there were only apparently a few buttons and they were all very simple to understand (one was "move" and one was "push"). What I'm wondering about is whether this one effect that I don't think has a name came into play. According to the study, to free the trapped character, the participants had to push the "Push" button a total of 41 times. There were a few participants who started pushing and didn't finish, which makes me wonder if there was any visual effect when hitting the button.

If there was no clear indication that hitting the button was helping anything, people might not have bothered because they didn't think they could do anything. Alternatively, it might not have been clear that the simple "push" button was enough to move the cabinet.

yesterday
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FCC Reminds ISPs That They Can Be Fined For Lacking Transparency

Joe Gillian Why haven't they fined practically every ISP? (37 comments)

If this order still stands, why hasn't the FCC fined practically every ISP under this rule? Plenty of ISPs were (and some still are) throttling YouTube, and I don't think I saw a single notice from the ISPs themselves about it. I would think that YouTube counts as a "certain type of traffic" for the purposes of this rule.

2 days ago
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The Psychology of Phishing

Joe Gillian Re:well (125 comments)

I think it's more that the criminals tend to structure their phishing emails around things that look like they need to be clicked - I've seen a lot of phishing emails that purport to be from the reader's bank (I've gotten a few of these, all mimicking banks I don't use) telling them that fraud has been detected on their account or that there's some other urgent issue threatening their money. A lot of people will click these things without even giving it a second thought because to them, it looks like their life savings/credit score are at stake.

2 days ago
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The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden

Joe Gillian Amend FOIA (189 comments)

The problem here is that we need Congress to amend the Freedom of Information Act. DHS can hide the way they do because they can claim a "national security" exemption to FOIA - one of the very few things (apart from ongoing criminal investigations and ongoing collective bargaining, among a handful of others) that can be used to block a FOIA request. The national security exemption also tends to be the most often abused, especially by police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A lot of the time, the agencies know they won't win when the people requesting the records appeal, but it's a handy way to stonewall records requests right out of the gate.

What should happen is that FOIA should be amended to make it clear when the national security exemption does and does not apply, so that it can't be used to hide behind anymore.

2 days ago
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Researchers Design Bot To Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews

Joe Gillian Re:Robo-Polygraph? (102 comments)

My guess is that once they realize people can just butt-clench (or more accurately, sphincter-clench) their way through the tests, they'll discard the polygraph robot and bring in Robo-Freud and his partner, Robo-Jung.

"This unit believes you are clenching your sphincter because you are anally retentive. Did your mother not love you enough? Is that why you have a drug problem?"

2 days ago
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Researchers Design Bot To Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews

Joe Gillian Robo-Polygraph? (102 comments)

From the Vice article, this sounds a lot like a robotic polygraph - the article directly mentions using "electrodes to measure cardiographic and electrodermal responses".. which is essentially what a polygraph does. I can't imagine that a robot will be any more effective at applying baseless pseudoscience than a human would - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people who have their careers ruined due to a failed polygraph is higher with the robot than with a human "interpreter".

Wouldn't it be much more efficient to just eliminate the polygraph altogether?

2 days ago
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CNN iPhone App Sends iReporters' Passwords In the Clear

Joe Gillian Re:No excuse (40 comments)

It's still happening because everyone and their mother wants the ability to have exclusive ads and information gathering on people's mobile devices. This is why you see very few robust mobile websites, because it's more profitable to collect and sell user data gathered via a mobile app (as well as serving ads).

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

Joe Gillian Make-work Project? (216 comments)

This sounds like a make-work project by the Chinese government to try to boost their economy. Construction is a huge business in China that accounts for a large portion of their GDP - that's why you see things like the "ghost cities" there, where construction workers built thousands of apartments and offices that aren't ever going to be used simply because the Chinese government needs to keep pumping money into construction.

Digging a 57-kilometer underground tunnel would probably put plenty of construction workers to work for a while - not to mention hauling in all the equipment, doing all the wiring and piping, etc.

2 days ago
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UK Users Overwhelmingly Spurn Broadband Filters

Joe Gillian More inconvienient than the average filter. (115 comments)

I haven't dealt with any of these British ISPs because I am not British, but it seems like these filters are done at the ISP level, and the connection owners have to call in to turn the filter off. Filters are already enough of a pain for both parents and other places that wish to use them. An example of this:

I went to a Catholic high school. During my Freshman year, the school's sysadmins implemented a very restrictive web filter that was on at all times and that only they could turn off. The sysadmins didn't come in every day - I think they were only there three days a week and even then not there full-time. Right away, conflicts started to form between the teachers and the sysadmins. One of the things the filter blocked was Google Image Search, which a lot of teachers wanted to use for school projects and in the classroom. The school's administration insisted that Image Search stay blocked entirely on the vague chance that someone could use it to find porn (never mind the fact that the filter they were using automatically blocked those results on its own) unless a sysadmin was present to oversee its use.

The end result, between the GIS filter and several other ones, was that it was virtually impossible to use the school's computers for schoolwork. I only stayed in that school for another year, but they never managed to resolve the issue.

I can only imagine what would've happened if the teachers had to make a phone call to the school's ISP every time they wanted the filter off, and then a second call every time they wanted it turned back on.

3 days ago
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Exodus Intelligence Details Zero-Day Vulnerabilities In Tails OS

Joe Gillian FUD? (132 comments)

This sounds like FUD against Tails. A security research firm finds some undisclosed zero-days in Tails, but doesn't describe what they could do - arbitrary code execution? De-anonymization? They then go on to say that they haven't told the Tails maintainers what the vulnerabilities are, but will "in due time", implying they're going to sell them off to the government first. Exodus Intelligence also does a lot of business with the US government, possibly including the NSA.

To me, this sounds like they probably found some minor zero-days and are trying to spread FUD (likely spurred on by their clients in the government) to get people to stop using Tails. After all, we know that the NSA is trying to put people who attempt to download Tails on a watchlist for further scrutiny.

3 days ago
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For Now, UK Online Pirates Will Get 4 Warnings -- And That's It

Joe Gillian Re:Changing attitudes, i.e. brainwashing (143 comments)

File sharing is so natural that I think my cat is trying to develop a new transfer protocol involving shed cat hair. At least, I assume that's why he rolls around on my pillow and covers it in cat hair.

3 days ago
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For Now, UK Online Pirates Will Get 4 Warnings -- And That's It

Joe Gillian Re:Warnings are discoverable ... (143 comments)

I would hope that the recording industry worldwide has learned from the example of the MAFIAA, where judges started throwing out their massive fishing-expedition style lawsuits against hundreds of John Does based on the flimsiest of proof. The courts in the United States have made it clear that it is not their job to help the MAFIAA make a profit, and I would hope that judges in the UK rule the same way.

3 days ago
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How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Joe Gillian Re:Mission creep. (285 comments)

I think it's less mission creep and more the school district not foreseeing what they'd need to do to make their iPad initiative work. I don't know California very well, but the article makes it sound like it's in a pretty low-wealth district: the article itself mentions that many of the parents do not own personal computers or have an internet connection, and the Wikipedia page for the district states that it's 80% Hispanic. The iPads don't seem to be useful if they're not connected, at least not for what the school wants them for (kids being able to do school assignments, parents staying involved in their child's education). The school probably thought they had enough bandwidth to serve all of their students and their families, probably never called in a network admin to see if they could support connecting anyone who lives near the school, and went through with it anyway.

4 days ago

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