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* Posts by sisk

1432 posts • joined 17 Mar 2010

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Vampires and Ninjas versus the Alien Jedi Robot Pirates: It's ON

sisk
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Max Brooks

On the subject of World War Z I think it should be pointed out that the world's militaries had little trouble dropping zombies by the horde once they accepted that zombies were not human. Both the shock and awe tactics and entire classes of conventional weaponry were utterly useless, but when they went back to the good old bolt action of yesteryear and focused on marksmanship above intimidation the zombies ceased to be a real threat. They pretty much wiped out all the zombies in the US with no more than a handful of casualties once they did that.

Movie? What movie?

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Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?

sisk
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Re: Take a note from the US

Call me crazy, but shouldn't the public website of a body that prepares for disasters be somewhat capable of sustaining a sudden peak in traffic, such as might occur after a disaster?

You'd think. Technically though the CDC only has responsibility for outbreaks of disease, which very rarely happen over night. FEMA would be the agency in charge of the types of natural disasters that are usually sudden and unexpected. Contagions tend to not be so sudden. Even the ones that hit public awareness very rapidly don't usually cause such a huge spike in CDC's traffic.

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Re: Take a note from the US

To be fair the Zombie Apocalypse thing was a general disaster prep guide written by a CDC staffer with a sense of humor (and serves as the only publicly accessible proof that such people do, in fact, exist). Seriously, that guide works just as well for a flood, tornado, or earthquake as it does for a zombie apocalypse.

Also resulted in the total collapse of the CDC's public network due to a sudden 10,000ish fold increase in incoming web traffic when it went viral, so it's perhaps not the best idea to emulate.

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What are your plans to respond to an asteroid impact?

Suggested answer:

In the aftermath of an impact event within the council's area of influence large enough to warrant a response from your town council it will be dissolved. As will the council members. And town hall. And the town. You might escape dissolution should you be fortunate enough to be on vacation at the time.

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Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

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Re: Thunderbird + Lightning

I believe Gmail accepts text files, to handle some repetitive tasks. I know I could use it to create a large number of users.

Couldn't they be used to update and/or delete accounts? Never looked into it.

The only task we could use text files for was importing users. Mind you I wasn't the one maintaining the student email accounts, so my knowledge of it is mostly via hearsay, but I do know that three days were spent correcting an error that was in the text file last year because they couldn't edit or delete the accounts via text file.

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Re: Thanks for that

Have you actually used Thunderbird recently? I didn't think there was anything that could out-crap Apple Mail, but there it is. I also wouldn't shout too loud about "reliable". Yes, the Linux kernel is reliable, but that doesn't mean that the desktop productivity applications that run on it are.

I've TRIED to use Thunderbird recently. Lets just say I get all my personal email on my phone for lack of a decent email client that will run in Linux. LibreOffice is another story though. I've found it to be extremely reliable.

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Re: Thunderbird + Lightning

Freeware type Office copies might work for small business and home users, but for the vast majority of enterprise users, it's simply not up to the job. Especially Excel.

Anecdotal though it may be I've never had a need that Calc wasn't more than up to. Though, to be fair, I mostly use spreadsheets as a place to dump database queries to so that I can easily give them to someone else. Someone else does all the book keeping and accounting that is Excel's strong point.

As for Thunderbird + Lightning, on that I have to say it's just not up to the job even for my relatively modest needs. I've been there and tried that. After a couple months of frustration I gave up and went back to Outlook. GMail Enterprise can do the job, but it brings in its own headaches. The biggest one for us is that there are no bulk tools except an import. If you need to change a huge batch of accounts you have to touch every single one of them.

For most businesses that wouldn't be a problem, but we were using them for student email accounts. That meant every June some lucky sod got to go in and delete 600 email accounts for outgoing students one at a time over a not-especially-fast web based interface. Even worse, every time the suits (AKA the guys with PHDs in education who can't find Outlook if you delete the shortcut from the desktop) decided something about those accounts needed to change we had to touch every single one of them, which took about 3 days of mind numbing click-click-click. I could see GMail as an alternative in a more normal enterprise, but it doesn't cut it for us.

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So apparently the biggest bitch is there's no direct equivalent to Outlook?

Actually....I can sorta understand that one. If they were complaining about Word or Excel it'd be a toothless argument, but Outlook is, dare I say it, damn useful. Integrating a calendar with email is so obvious and so useful that I've often wondered why the concept hasn't been cloned into open source yet (and before you say it, I don't have the time to do it myself or the leadership skills to assemble a team to help).

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Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD

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Re: What?!

Try hitting one on a motorcycle, then... Not to be recommended.

I don't know about pigeons, but I once saw a guy take a pheasant to the chest on a motorcycle. The bird won. It knocked him clean off the back of the bike and wandered off into some tall grass while he was testing how much protection leathers give against road rash (quite a bit, apparently, but not so much against bruises and broken arms).

Somewhat humorously, the bike continued down the road for about a quarter mile before it realized it had lost its rider and laid down in the ditch to wait for him.

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Amazon 'adware' laden Ubuntu passes ICO's data smell test

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The kill button is a step in the right direction, but it really needs to be an opt-in if they want to include this feature, not an opt-out.

Then again I've never liked Ubuntu. All the user friendliness - or lack thereof - of Debian with all the stability of Windows XP before its first service pack. I'm a recent convert from Debian to Linux Mint Debian Edition. Its as easy to use as the more traditional Mint and has all the stability I've always loved in Debian.

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The Register is HIRING technology hacks for the WORLD

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It interested me for a minute or two. I think I have the writing skills and I definitely have the tech knowledge for the job. Sadly though there's more to journalism than just being able to string words together and have them make sense. I'm somewhat lacking in the skills that let good journalists figure out when to ask whom which questions, not to mention the skills to actually get those questions answered. Besides I'm about 2000 miles from San Francisco with no plans to move.

I can't help but feel it'll be a rewarding career for whoever gets it though.

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BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

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Re: I refuse to do backups - on principle

I'd point out that nowhere in the story does it suggest the files in question weren't on a server. No one in a company big enough to have an IT department backs up users' desktops except as occasional exceptions to their backup policy for exceptional machines (we back up the one that has the ID badge printer and software for instance). Who has that kind of storage to throw away?

As for PST files, my alternative is a trash can. In my experience most people who have a need for PST files are saving emails that no one needs anymore. The prime example around here had three PST files because he'd run into the 4gb max file size in FAT32 when trying to store them on a flash drive (and blamed IT for it when he had to have multiple files, but that's another story). Looking at them it was pretty easy to tell the man had never deleted a file in his life. He still had emails from 1994 talking about whose turn it was to bring snacks when he retired last year.

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I am SO sending a certain user a link to this story. Maybe he'll stop deleting the same fracking file every 2 months and thinking I haven't noticed the pattern after he's read it.

Very well done.

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Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins

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Re: Sisk

Lighten up itzman. It's a joke. I didn't use the joke alert icon because I didn't think anyone would actually be simplistic enough to not realize I was joking.

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Re: Humphrys can make inadvertent fun out of anything

Hell, chickens have several million years worth of evolution....

Evolution doesn't necessarily mean becoming more intelligent. Remember that evolution doesn't really have a goal, so any change which promotes survival and reproduction will stick. The movie Idiocracy pretty well laid out an example of how evolution could diminish human intelligence. It was taken to the extreme, but the scenario is realistic.

In animals I could see several scenarios where the most intelligent members of the species don't last long. Perhaps the most realistic is a situation where a given species survival is so mind-numbingly easy that they don't need intelligence, in which case natural selection would get rid of it. Chickens are a pretty good example. A smart chicken might find a way to escape the farm, and that chicken, as a member of the bottom rung of the food chain severely lacking in any means of hiding and only having a relatively weak means of defending itself, would be doomed.

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Mushroom

It occurs to me that the ecosystem is currently in the worst shape that it's been in for several million years, thanks largely to human activities. Time to look up I think.

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Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE

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Re: Will the NSA tender thru a proxy party ?

Don't have to, Snowden is already in Russia. So if there really is a tender out in the ex-USSR then it means Snowden hasn't heard of any NSA crack and they probably haven't got one either.

The information Snowden had access to may have been damning to the NSA, but I've gotten the impression that it was a relatively small slice of their total operations.

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Re: Will the NSA tender thru a proxy party ?

I'm slightly surprised the Russians still don't have it down to be honest.

I'm sure the KGB, or whatever their post-cold-war equivalent is, do. But just because they can do it doesn't mean they're going to let the interior ministry know they can.

Which all means that it probably really is a hunt for pedos rather than political divergents.

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In the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave ... you can legally carrier unlock your own phone

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Congress actually did something that's good for the people and counter to what the corporations wanted? Excuse me for a second. I'm using every method I know to check and make sure I'm awake and not dreaming.

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Pinterest diversity stats: Also pale and male (but not as much as Twitter)

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Oh for crying out loud. The ENTIRE SECTOR is mostly white and Asian males. It has nothing to do with discriminatory hiring practices and everything to do with the fact that most people who go into the tech sector in the first place are white and Asian males. Seriously, walking into any US university CompSci class and take a quick look at the demographics. They haven't really changed much since the infancy of CompSci, except there actually might be a few women in there now.

Can we please stop implying that tech companies are somehow sexist just because there aren't many woman with the interest and education needed to work in tech positions? That's society's fault, not Twitter's or Pintrest's or Yahoo's.

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White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!

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Re: Odd

The stats that need comparing are company make-up vs the total appropriately qualified populations, not simply graduate population make-up.

I would point out that, while that's true, the graduate population is a much easier statistic to get and probably reflects the total population of appropriately qualified applicants. The reason I say that is that the graduate population for a given field will almost certainly give you an idea of what sorts of backgrounds find said field attractive, which, logically, should give you a very good idea of what the pool of qualified people in that field looks like. After all, if you have a field where only 10% of the graduates are women (a field like, say, IT) you can be pretty sure that women as a whole aren't very interested in that field.

Why women don't seem interested in IT on the whole is a whole 'nother issue, but you can hardly blame Twitter for that. Personally I think that has more to do with the long-standing stereotype about computer types (you know, the one that says we're all socially awkward, unattractive men? If you had that idea and were a woman would you want to be in the IT field?)

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In the US at least there seems to be little female interest in technology. I'd be willing to bet that an overwhelmingly large percentage of Twitter's qualified applicants are male and either white or Asian just based off of the demographics of computer science majors, who are, shocker, mostly male Caucasians and Asians. THAT is why you see such a lack of diversity in American tech companies. What you're looking at is reality, not discrimination. It's simply a reflection of who chooses to go into the IT field. Diversifying in this context means turning away qualified people simply because of the color of their skin or their gender. That's illegal, though for some reason I never quite got it gets a pass if you call it 'affirmative action'.

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Dungeons & Dragons relaunches with 'freemium' version 5.0

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Re: GURPS?

GURPS, the RPG that makes income tax instructions look easy.

GURPS is actually one of the easier systems I've used. You have to reference the books whenever you add skills, but aside from that it's very easy. Roll 3d6 and if you're under your target number (The appropriate attribute adjusted for your skill level) you succeed. You should have all your target numbers written on your character sheet, so that's not hard at all. Even someone only passingly familiar with the system can get their character put together in 30 minutes or less.

Compare that with Rifts, a system wherein I once finished my character in only an hour and a half and kept looking at it convinced I'd made a mistake because it should have taken twice as long.

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I dunno about that. 3rd edition was a much simpler system than AD&D 2nd edition I thought, and the skill/feat system that replaced 2E's proficiencies was a vast improvement.

Can't comment on anything past 3.5E though. When 4th edition came out we switched to Pathfinder for a fantasy themed games. Not only was it compatible with our 3rd edition books, but we were all in agreement that 4th edition just plain sucked after one session with it.

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Re: I'm firmly...

I'm well into adulthood and my oldest kid is almost old enough to start joining in the games (though, if my past experience with very young players holds true, probably not mature enough to do so without making all the adult players want to slap her). I still play a regular rotation of games (currently GURPS) every weekend with the same group I've been playing with for the last 20 years. The membership has changed over the years as people have moved away or new people have joined up or life has forced other priorities on people*, but it's been a constant group. To me it's become an excuse to get together every Sunday afternoon with some of my closest friends than anything else.

*"Other priorities" in this context is mostly spouses who don't approve of the hobby, but I've been lucky in that regard. My wife games with us and is no happier about missing sessions than I am.

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It's gotta be better than the piece of garbage that is 4th edition. If I wanted to have the limitations needed to make a computerized RPG viable I probably wouldn't be playing a pen and paper game.

Still I don't see myself or any of the rest of the group I play with switching back from Pathfinder any time soon.

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Debian Linux, Android share a bed in upcoming distro

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android is Linux

Yes, but only by strictest definition. Remember that what most people think of as 'Linux' is mostly GNU with a Linux kernel, though most distros fall short of GNU's official standards by letting users choose to run non-free software. You could be forgiven forgetting that considering what a nightmare trying to run GNU without Linux is (good luck making Hurd work for anything more than an interesting side project). Android lacks the GNU part of the normal formula and so is radically different from what most people think of as Linux.

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Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

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Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

If this is to be taken to its extreme, every driver would be required to have both hands on the wheel

Then I would argue that the extreme is appropriate. There's a reason we were all taught to use both hands to drive. Just try to make a quick correction to avoid a deer that ran out onto the highway with one hand and you'll understand.

Here the law is that you must have both hands on the wheel any time the car is in motion. The only exception is when you're shifting gears on a standard transmission. Any other time you take one hand off the wheel you can be fined. It's a law I completely agree with, having been on the receiving end of someone's inattention while they tried to eat and drive.

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sisk
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Personally I've always doubted the studies saying hands-free was as dangerous as holding a phone to your ear. After all talking hands-free should logically be not much different than carrying on a conversation with a passenger, and perhaps even a little safer because you nullify your instinct to look at the person you're talking to when they're not there. On the other hand it's pretty stinking obvious that you have less control over a vehicle when you're only using one hand on the steering wheel.

Now texting and driving....That's the act of the stupid and the insane. Ditto for using whatever social media app is currently popular.

Personally when I'm driving my phone stays either in my pocket, in the console storage cubby (if I have it plugged in to charge), or in the mount on my dash (if I'm using GPS, in which case I make my wife fiddle with any settings that need fiddled while I'm driving).

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BitTorrent not to blame for movie revenues, says economist

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So basically he's proven scientifically that you can't make money by overcharging for bad movies even if people aren't downloading them.

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NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years

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Re: Promises, promises

So is that the same "20 years" time period by which we'll have commercial nuclear fusion?

To be fair we should have commercial nuclear fusion by now. Bussard had it figured out, but the US government thought taking down Saddam Hussein was more important than his research. It's a shame we don't know how much of the process went to his grave with him.

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Europe's highest court: Apple CAN trademark its retail store layout

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And here I thought the US government had the market on patent stupidity cornered.

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Doctor Who season eight scripts leak online

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Here's a conversation I had with a friend last night. For an added chuckle, I had no idea it had anything to do with Dr. Who till she mentioned season 8. Obviously we're both Whovians.

Friend: I did a bad thing.

Me: Shame on you. The Doctor would be very disappointed in you. Or proud. It all depends. What'd you do?

Friend: You heard about the leaked scripts, right?

Me: What leaked scripts?

Friend: I have the scripts from season 8.

Me: No spoilers or I'll go all River Song on you.

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NASA: Satellite which will END man-made CO2 debate in orbit at last

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Re: Maybe meteor strikes are an issue, maybe not

Option A: They're all nuts.

Option B: We're all nuts.

Option C: Screw it all. I think I'll grab some peanuts for a snack.

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Re: John Hughes

Well then the solution seems obvious. We need to pass a laws limiting how much CO2 nature is allowed to dump into the atmosphere and raising the minimum efficiency of natural carbon sinks. That'll fix the problem.

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We'll have the facts soon....

And they'll be spun multiple directions in biased number crunching by various politically funded scientists to say whatever they need to say.

In other words, the debate will rage on no matter what we find out.

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Oh SNAP! Old-school '80s Unix hack to smack OSX, iOS, Red Hat?

sisk
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Re: Confused...

Any sysadmin worthy of the name is likely to notice these peculiarly named files and is going to investigate

Speaking as a part time sysadmin for a bank of Linux servers I have to say I probably wouldn't notice the odd file names. The reason is simple: I rarely see lists of files. The only time I ever type ls into my terminal (these servers are gui-less, as *nix servers should be in my humble opinion) is when I can't remember some obscure command. I do see file lists on FTP, but I have it set up so that no one, not even me, can access anything except their own home via FTP.

Then again you'd never catch me running something like 'rm -rf *' either.

As I said, I'm only a part time sysadmin (I'm a web developer by day), so take that as you will.

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Like frozen burgers, 'Bigfoot' DNA samples have a touch of horse

sisk
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There's a little difference. Religious sorts, for the most part, will generally admit flat out that there's no proof and tell you to take it on faith. Cryptid hunters usually try to get proof.

There's also a lesson about cryptids in the form of the giant panda. A huge animal with a limited, known range, and it still took them 60 years after they knew they existed to actually find one. And that was with the bulk of the scientific community being supportive. Is it any wonder that it's hard to find evidence of critters that most scientists scoff at?

That and you have to consider that for at least the last hundred years there's been a cryptid discovered to be real after all every 2-5 years, some of which were just as easy to dismiss as sasquatch and his snowball throwing cousin (gorillas were pretty danged hard to believe in not so long ago).

I'm not saying bigfoot is real. I for one think bigfoot is so much bunk in fact, but scoffing at the people who think it's real and look for evidence means ignoring the lessons of the past.

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Re: "Looks like an ostrich, kicks like a roo."

But what does it taste like?

Like an ostroo, obviously.

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Joke

Well you're talking about a continent where at some point a duck and a beaver got drunk together and woke up not knowing what happened the night before but certain they should be ashamed of themselves. I'm still waiting to see what the result of a barbie with both ostriches and kangaroos on the guest list might be.

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Re: Re, Himalayan bear

I have just two words for this:

Occam's razor.

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"One interesting anomaly the study turned up was polar bear DNA in samples from the Himalayas"

That actually sort of tracks. If you squint at a polar bear that's reared up on it's hind legs it's not hard at all to see the resemblance to the descriptions of a yeti. If a few of them somehow ended up in the Himalayas it wouldn't be hard at all for them to become 'abominable snowmen' in the oral history of times gone by.

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Dropbox used as command and control for Taiwan time bomb

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Seems risky for the perpetrators to me. Wouldn't any legitimate company just shut down the account as soon as a security researcher informed them they were being used as a C&C server?

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Microsoft eggheads publish JavaScript crypto code for devs

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To clarify I was talking about LSL, not JavaScript.

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Could be worse. Have you ever tried working in a language that uses integers as bools because it doesn't have real bools?

That's one of many insane problems with it (it also lacks real arrays for instance). Rumor amongst the community is that the guy who created the language did so in one all-nighter while drunk. It's not a hard rumor to believe. I suspect it would die a very quick death were there any other alternative in the environment where it's used.

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Crypto with JavaScript?

Isn't that like a Ford Pinto on a race track?

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British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

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Re: Logic Fail

Your eyes measure temperature? Are you a cyborg?

Good grief. And Brits accuse us Americans of being overly literal. Fine then, the evidence of my own experience.

I reasonably concluded that said evidence had nothing to do with thermometers and was probably more along the lines of looking out the window and seeing a load of snow.

That is not at all reasonable and quite wrong. I typically check the thermometer at least 3 times a day. It's a habit I picked up long ago.

The winters here are colder and longer than they were 10 years ago. That's directly observable. On the other hand you've got this guy across the sea studying conditions in the arctic saying that we should have fewer cold days. Now imagine for a second you lived here. Which would you believe? Personally I'm inclined to think the guy telling us that our winters are shorter and warmer, contrary to the reality I can experience for myself, got something wrong somewhere.

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Re: It's really only the oil that's running out,

I've heard it said that we're already past peak oil, but the source was not exactly the most reliable (I suspect the experts in that documentary were about as legit as the ones in the Ancient Aliens show on History Channel). Still, oil is definately getting more expensive at a much quicker rate than inflation. Regardless of the reasons for that it makes sense to look for alternatives at the point.

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Re: Just wait until next year!

None of the nations will stop their CO2 emissions until there's nothing to fuel the factories and power plants. After that, the lights will go out, and it'll be the dark ages (literally!) for all of us.

Hopefully we'll have gotten to the point by that time that renewables (not necessarily the current crop of renewables mind you) and/or fusion can provide us the power we need. We do, after all, have plenty of time. Here in the US we have something like a 250 year supply of easily obtainable coal, and maybe another 300 years worth that's hard enough to get at to not (yet) be profitable. I believe the UK has similarly size reserves of natural gas.

It's really only the oil that's running out, not all fossil fuels. The biggest oil burning segment of the market is automobiles, and we're seeing more and more hybrids and electric cars on the road, which means less oil burned and less CO2 in the atmosphere.

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Ohio man cuffed AGAIN for shagging inflatable pool raft

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Address his mental health problems? How un-American.

Sadly accurate. 95% of the mass shootings that the media always go nuts over are perpetrated by people known to have mental health problems that have been ignored. Unfortunately for us it's much more popular to blame an inanimate object for such things than to admit that we, as a society, has done something horribly, terribly wrong.

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