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* Posts by sisk

1410 posts • joined 17 Mar 2010

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Dungeons & Dragons relaunches with 'freemium' version 5.0

sisk
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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

sisk
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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

sisk
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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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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

sisk
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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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Joke

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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sisk
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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

sisk
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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

sisk
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To clarify I was talking about LSL, not JavaScript.

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sisk
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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

sisk
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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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sisk
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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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sisk
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Logic Fail

Or, in other words, severe cold spells like the ones Americans and Canadians have just suffered through are not increasing in frequency...

Based on my own observation that the last couple winters in my part of the US have been MUCH colder than any for the previous decade I would have to say that this statement is wrong. It may be anecdotal, but I'll take the evidence of my own eyes over the research of someone thousands of miles from the area in question.

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Ohio man cuffed AGAIN for shagging inflatable pool raft

sisk
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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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MIGHTY SOLAR FLARES fail to DESTROY CIVILISATION. Yes!

sisk
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Re: Stone Age?

Telecomms is similar, except that it's rarely copper and even more rarely DC coupled these days. Most of the long-distance internet is optical fiber. Long-distance copper is probably found only in very rural parts, connecting one farmouse or hamlet to the nearest town's telephone exchange many miles down the road in the old-fashioned way.

I think you'll find there are huge swaths of the US where the telecoms have not yet made the investment to update their antiquated copper lines. By strictest definition these areas are rural, but not 'very' rural. My part of the country is a good example, with only 4 towns in this half of the state with populations over 10,000 and dozens, maybe even hundreds, of small farming towns dotted all throughout the region, most of which still communicate with the outside world via copper.

Besides all the equipment would be fried by the rampant power surges, so the data lines would be irrelevant. Plus transformers catching fire tend to do bad things to nearby above ground fiber optics.

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

sisk
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Re: That's actually quite offensive...

Totally agree. I almost choked seeing a word like that on the Reg. Profoundly offensive.

For context I spent half a decade working with mentally handicapped people in a place where the higher ups were horrifyingly politically correct (even the word 'client' was taboo when referring to the people who were paying us for services).

Retarded is a medical term, as is the noun form of the word. Both were splashed all over our paperwork in that place, along with a veritable dictionary of other jargon from the world of medicine, because we had a complete medical diagnosis of each person we worked with. It's no more offensive in and of itself than 'leper', though using it as an insult is pretty uncool.

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sisk
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Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

{~!@"£$&!$*&!("*%£...he's just saying something techy...try nodding...it will stop soon...!)~@{}"!{$%}~!}

I see you know someone who uses the same geekese translator as my wife.

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sisk
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Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

>So no, I can't just 'make it faster'

Yes you can.

1. Uninstall everything from Symantec or McAfee. FInd replacements if necessary.

2. See what's starting up with the computer. Delete all the crap.

3. A low-level pass with Malwarebytes or Spybot. Both if you're feeling keen.

4. ???

5. Faster! (On probably 99% of machines)

Alternatively, wipe Windows and install some minimalist Linux distro designed to run on computers built in the 90s, which will no doubt run faster than Windows on a modern machine. When they complain point out that you did exactly as they asked and made their computer run faster.

Or get a bit of G scale model train track, build a track from the computer desk to the nearest window, and add some wheels and a largeish model rocket engine to the computer. That'll make it 'run' faster to.

There might be a reason people don't bother me with computer problems when I'm in a bad mood.

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sisk
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Re: Apparel Solution

Unfortunately, it's not wholly successful, so I'm considering getting one with the words "£30 per hour" written on it instead.

That doesn't work either in my experience. Most of the ones I deal with will happily cough up my $50/hour with 1 hour minimum payment to avoid having to take their computer to the local computer repair shops. But to be fair those morons make the Geek Squad look good.

And hey, sometimes it works out. I got a crack in my windshield fixed for free because the guy at the glass shop remembered I was a tech and they happened to be having computer problems that day. (I use the term 'computer problems' lightly. They'd accidently closed their file in QuickBooks and couldn't figure out which one they needed to open back up. Open a file, get a rock pit fill for free. Good trade for me.)

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NASA beams vid from space via laser

sisk
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Re: "equivalent to

Such is usually the case when NASA says something is "equivalent to" or "as hard as" something else. Nonetheless it's rather an impressive achievement. Think about it for a second. They're hitting a small target from 250 miles away with a relative velocity of 17,100mph. While a human holding a laser pointer and training it on the end of a human hair while walking is basically impossible it's not a wholly inaccurate simile for what they've done here.

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DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL

sisk
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Been there

I've done this before to, more than once. I've never quite figured out how Word or LibreOffice can manage to save an invalid XML file (I've seen them both do it), but it seems to happen about twice a year around here. Which when you consider that we have somewhere around 900 users saving Word documents several times a day isn't that bad I suppose.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

sisk
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Re: Transcript

I could see it fooling some people if they believed they were talking to a human with less than stellar command of the English language (such as could be expected from a 13 year old Ukrainian), but 30% of humans? I think that's pushing it.

Then again, people are stupid and will believe whatever they want to be true or what they fear is true.

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

sisk
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Re: sisk

That's a load of bull Matt. That line moves because it is the measure of where you can be income wise and have a decent life. It doesn't move to reflect a rising level of living. It moves to reflect the rising COST of living. There's a big difference. The level of living is always the same at the poverty line, no matter where it's at. If you don't believe me I suggest you go talk to someone who's had the line move from below their feet to over their head in the last decade. There are plenty of them to be found.

As the poverty line moves up the percentile there are more people living in poverty. That's a product of the cost of living increasing faster than people's incomes. 'On the poverty line' today is on the freaking poverty line. Until you go hungry for a few days so that you can feed your kids (a pretty common situation for families living on the poverty line) don't go telling me how great it is to be there.

Sure, someone making $10,000 a year would have been pretty well off 100 years ago. But that was when you could easily feed a family of 4 with $20 a month. Sure, $5000 a year puts you in the top 5% of income earners in the world, but in most of the world you can STILL feed a family of 4 for $20 a month. When you quote those sorts of numbers you leave out the fact that it costs, bare minimum, $6000 a year just to keep a roof over your head and another $4000 a year to feed your family if you eat the cheapest foods you can get. Add in gas, electric, and water bills and it's dang near impossible to live in the first world at the poverty line. And those things aren't optional. 100 years ago you could cook on your fireplace and have an outhouse. Today fireplaces cost extra, and even if you have one you have to pay for the wood for it because they won't let you just go chop down trees in most of the country (even if you live somewhere where there ARE trees) and environmental regulations mean you're liable to run afoul of the EPA if you're using an outhouse. And yes, there are parts of the world that have it worse, where whole populations live in, you guessed it, poverty. That doesn't make you 'lucky' to be living in poverty here.

The bottom line is that poverty is poverty.

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sisk
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Why? We have a welfare state, whose aim and purpose is to make us all richer. And, despite the sort of calumnies that people like me occasionally heap upon it, it does just this.

Um....no it doesn't. If the welfare state was making us all richer then the percentile at which the poverty line sits would be reducing. Instead the poverty line rests at a higher percentile every year as more and more people live in poverty.

Not that I'm saying that he's right about taxing the snot out of the top 1%, but you've got this point wrong.

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Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

sisk
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I could be wrong, having never actually been on an aircraft in flight, but wouldn't it be exceedingly difficult to get a laser into the eyes of the pilot of an aircraft in flight from the ground?

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Oh, wow. US Secret Service wants a Twitter sarcasm-spotter

sisk
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Given the number of humans who are unable to spot sarcasm in text based communications I'm not optimistic about software based attempts to do so.

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Android is a BURNING 'hellstew' of malware, cackles Apple's Cook

sisk
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Re: On the other hand...

Heartbleed only affects the server side of a SSL connection. Android handsets are almost always clients. Only once in a great while will you come across some geek who for some obscure reason has set up a server using SSL on their phone, and even then it's not part of the core OS.

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sisk
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That's not as bad as you might think. My phone is still running Cyanogen 9. I simply have no reason to update. The "glaring" security holes everyone's always talking about on Android require that the user either use the Android web browser or install unfamiliar apps. I use a different browser and I haven't installed an app, familiar or otherwise, on the thing for over a year, so my chances of picking up one of the malwares out there for Android are next to nil. Additionally newer versions don't offer any features that I want badly enough to have to mess with setting my phone up all over again.

So no, my phone will not be upgraded. IS that a bad thing? I don't think so. My computer is running Windows 7 and it won't be upgraded either. I have a file server in my house that's been cut off from the internet and happily plugging away on a version of Debian that's two versions past when it was oldstable since it was current. I won't update that either. (And, to be fair, I'm not entirely certain I could remember the root password even if I wanted to. I haven't actually logged onto the thing for several years. No need to. It just sits there doing it's job.)

Simply put, upgrading any system carries an element of hassle and a little risk (the update could always go wrong, even if the chances are vanishingly small). So, unless you actually have a reason to upgrade, it's usually best not to. The fact that Apple shoves updates down your throat whether you actually have a reason to update or not annoys me greatly.

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sisk
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Stop the presses!

Apple CEO slams a rival that's trouncing them in the market! In other news, the sun is expected to rise tomorrow morning.

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You've got two weeks to beat off Cryptolocker, GameoverZeus nasties

sisk
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Re: Are you pointing at me?

If it's CryptoLocker it'll be able to infect any Windows system running Win2k+. I believe there's a less prevalent OSX version floating around too, but don't quote me on that.

CryptoLocker is nasty. Someone here has a virus on their home computer that has been sending out malicious emails containing it to their entire contact list (so about 50 or 60 of our users) a couple times a week for the last couple months. Everyone's wise to it now thanks to liberal use of a metaphorical cluebat*, but we must have had 15 CryptoLocker infections the first couple weeks as people fell for it and opened the "account summery" (sic) or "scanned document" that came in with them. Seriously, I had to pull the same files from backups 7 times in two weeks because of Cryptolocker infections, and that was just me (I'm not the only backup administrator) and for just one network share.

*They won't let me use my literal cluebat.

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It's Google's NO-WHEEL car. OMG... there aren't any BRAKES

sisk
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Re: you don't routinely service an alternator.

Molegrips? I thought you were supposed to apply the hammer directly....

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Rich bitch sorority girls actually more likely to put out than low-class 'sluts': Study

sisk
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Joke

Re: Thank god... @AC

and finding out where the fluff in my belly button comes from

Your belly button contains a tiny nanoassembler programmed to create lint. Figure out how to reprogram it to spin gold and you're set for life.

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Re: Sociology or gossip?

He will be once he has the grant.

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Yet another reason...

Men should not try to understand women. Women understand women and they hate each other.

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Re: re: goat jam

It is interesting that counter-shaming did not work, I'd be interested to know which factors led to this protection.

Popularity can make you all but immune to the social consequences of your actions. Take, for example, that small town where the star football players raped a girl (the one Anonymous got involved in....I forget the names). The whole town jumped to defend the football player and the victim was labeled as a 'slut'. Now imagine if the rapist had been a nerd with no athletic ability to speak of and less than stellar social skills. How do you think it would have gone down then?

With that little bit of knowledge, is it any wonder that the counter-shaming didn't work?

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