* Posts by Aaron Em

1573 posts • joined 20 Jul 2009

Discovery crawls to launch pad

Aaron Em

The Saturn V wasn't limited to LEO?

Hell, the only part of it that even *made* orbit was the S-IVB, and they discarded that as soon as they were done with TLI burn and LEM extraction.

Mozilla slips 'Do Not Track' header into Firefox nightlies

Aaron Em

Still useless

Still no explanation of how this is supposed to be anything other than a pure marketing ploy: "Mozilla Works Harder to Keep You Safe!"

Yuppie cellphone-style iPhone case comes to Blighty

Aaron Em

No accounting for bad taste

Bleah. That looks worse than those awful 80s brick-phones did in the first place.

Chaps tolerant of girl-on-girl cheating by other halves

Aaron Em

You're just naive

Google 'dental dam' if you don't believe me.

Mac daddy predicts all-knowing, all-seeing UI

Aaron Em

Wrong, wrong, wrong

DYING PROCEDURE INITIATED, bah. All you need, in a *completely* emotionless tone, is this:


"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you say that again, please?"


"I'm dying! It's a h-- h--*grk*" [CHOKING NOISES]


"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you say that again, please?"



"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you say that again, please?"




"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you say that again, please?"




"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Could you say that again, please?"



"I'm sorry. Are you still there?"



"Thank you for using the SAL 10000 Service. Please try calling again later."

[CLICK of a hook switch]

[TONE of an open line]

[OTHER script-y crap]




[THE BASTARD would do in a PINCH]


Aaron Em

ISO standard public dotage

They all seem to go through it, don't they?

Stay in the trenches, kids. Maybe no one will know your name when you die, but at least they won't know your name because of 'oh yeah, he's the one who fell for an IBM demo...poor guy'.

Aaron Em

So the future is, what, last week?

There's streets in this city where I can see that kind of shit all day.

It reminds me of the porn theater Mom and I used to drive past in the morning, back when I was still in high school. You would not believe the poor bastards you see coming out of one of those places at six o'clock on a Wednesday morning. But at least the pornhounds know they have a problem.

Aaron Em

"That building is the Bank of America building."

There is a Bank of America building in my city, right downtown. My company has servers collocated in a hosting facility there.

It says "Bank of America", in very large type, right up at the top of this building -- even lights up at night. It also says the same things on the glass doors to the lobby, just in case you're too close to the building to see the big glowing sign right up at the top of it.

I fail to see where HAL 9000 needs to enter the picture.

Aaron Em

So, basically...

...Atkinson has entered the ISO-standard period of public dotage required between end-of-career and end-of-life for pretty much every 'name' this damned industry produces.

Poor guy. I hope he enjoys his second childhood.

Aaron Em

Er 'epithet' I think you mean

"FUCK YOU YOU GODDAMNED PIECE OF SHIT" is only an epitaph when you've carved it on a tombstone.

Aaron Em

NLP hell, we'll need better carriers first

Because, yeah, at a time when data's getting more and more expensive to do wirelessly, this is going to be the big new thing. Maybe my brain isn't implemented on a RAID array somewhere in some bog-standard datacenter that some marketing dipshit fondles himself while calling "the cloud"-- but, lack of multiple-brain redundancy within my cranium or no, I'm *damn* sure I'll never have to pay ten cents a megabyte to access the stuff I've got stored in it. (And I can outsource all my disaster recovery planning to the local hospital's emergency department!)

Not only that, does anyone remember how thoroughly they had to rig Deep Blue so it could beat Kasparov, tuning up its play between each pair of matches and all that? Has it occurred to anyone that this Jeopardy outing might well be nothing more than another IBM-standard publicity stunt, with all the suit-and-tie Oompa Loompas carefully swept behind the scenes so nobody can see them running their little orange asses off to keep the rigged demo on the rails?

Mozilla plans 'Do Not Track' bottle-stopper for private surfers

Aaron Em

Can't fake an IP address

And sure, yeah, I really feel safe about this opaque blob of closed-source binary code with the four-color glossy website that promises to "protect my identity". Oh, and "how to help: download our crap, tell your friends it's chocolate ice cream, then send us money!"

Yeah, that's just trustworthy as *hell*. Shill, much?

Aaron Em

Oh, seriously?

"Please, mister advertiser! *Please* don't give me that bad old tracking cookie!"

So, seriously, why does anyone bother with a lead balloon like this? Is it just so Mozilla Co. can say "Look, we pretend to care about your privacy more than Microsoft pretends to!"

Matrix 4 and 5 in works, threatens Keanu

Aaron Em

And sometimes you just know a movie's going to suck

Did you make the same arguments in defense of Battlefield Earth? If not, why don't you and your rather peculiar tastes go enjoy a movie everybody else on the planet loathed, and leave us all to the snark we so enjoy in the middle of a workday afternoon?

Aaron Em


If they'd tried to transfer The Matrix to 3D instead, they'd have killed off 3D cinema for the next decade or two, that's all -- did you see 'Alice'? There's an example of a movie that was made in 2D and then converted to 3D in post-production, and that's why it looks like crap. And The Matrix has all that flow-motion and special wire effects stuff, there's no way it would've come out looking any way but terrible, and all that would've done was made people come out of the theater going "Oh yeah! 3D sucks!" They needed a movie like Avatar, custom-made to take advantage of every possible corner of the format, in order to convince people 3D was worth any attention at all. (After all, when it's cropped up about once a decade and been shot down again just about as quickly, it's not a surprise when people start to get cynical about the whole idea.)

Aaron Em

And if it's "serious articles" you want...

...then the Reg is not the place to be; the humorless rarely survive. (And anyway, is the guy who "just reads it for the articles" really who you want to be?)

Aaron Em

What, the Wachowskis...

...couldn't fuck it up enough with their own pair of terrible sequels?

Aaron Em

Oh, yeah, steampunk

Because hot-gluing a handful of old pocketwatch parts to it makes anything better!

Are disk drives beginning to spin down?

Aaron Em

Flash also can't be non-destructively written

Every time you write a byte on a Flash chip, you bring it a tiny bit closer to death. Which is unfortunate when you've got things like swap files on it that might well be written more or less constantly.

Aaron Em


I have no clue why so many people who damn well ought to know better are so high on "the cloud" -- I guess it must be a cloud of pot smoke. How else to explain the commonality of this delusion that "cloud storage" means anything other than "the same big-box-of-disk-in-a-data-center model we've been using for the last decade and a half"?

It's just a buzzword, people! For God's sake, *think* a little before you fall for the latest fad!

Gawker makes a hash of non-ASCII characters in passwords

Aaron Em

Shorter Gawker:

"We're completely incompetent at security, so we're outsourcing the problem to a third party too new to have ruined its reputation yet."

US job market still limp

Aaron Em

It sorta worked for me

I started with my current employer as a phone support goober for $9 an hour, and moved to programming after showing I could do it by dint of an epic 13-hour hacking run to fix something that'd stumped the people working on it for weeks. (It took thirteen hours because I was learning how to PHP in the process. I already knew how to Perl, though, which was a pretty significant advantage as Perl:PHP::Legos:Duplos.)

Actually, come to think about it, if I were to give you a single piece of advice on what to learn, I'd say this: spend some time picking up the basics of a few common languages such as C, Python, PHP, Perl, Java -- not working toward really in-depth knowledge of any of them, so much as giving yourself a broad base on which to build. This'll pay off more if you get a job with it, but I'd argue it's worth doing in any case, for at least a few languages; it's amazing how useful the ability to put together little programs, especially little interpreted programs in a language like Perl or Python, can be in just making a computer more pleasant and straightforward to use. I'd also spend some time getting acquainted with Linux and network administration, if you're interested in going for sysadmin-type jobs; as with the programming languages, it's not so much about getting super in-depth as it is acquiring a basic knowledge of how to get around and do things.

Then, once you've got a survey-level knowledge of some technologies in common use in the fields you're looking to enter, you'll be able to combine the possibilities you listed: you can use the honest approach *and* rattle off a half-dozen languages and platforms in your CV, while also noting that your knowledge of them is at a level that'd make you a good trainee/intern/junior/dogsbody-level worker.

My other advice would be: you're more likely to have success with smaller companies than with bigger ones. Applying to a place with a massive HR department is something like playing DDR on the super-extreme-heart-attack difficulty level; if everything in your CV isn't lined up exactly how they want to see it, it's very likely they'll round-file it and that'll be the end of that. The smaller the company (as long as it seems solvent and likely to remain so, that is), the better your odds of getting a chance to talk to a technically knowledgeable person and getting a chance to show that you have chops enough to be worth hiring -- and consider also, if you aren't able to find anyone looking to take on a trainee, that you might be able to take a support position or similar to get your foot in the door and a chance to show you know what you're doing.

Well, hell, it worked for me, anyway. Here's hoping you find the kind of position you're looking for.

Aaron Em

'Something close to the real unemployment figure'

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics actually does report that; in their scheme of unemployment figures, it's identified as U-6, whereas the usual "official unemployment rate" figure, cited by President, legislators, and media alike, is called U-3. U-6 includes a broader range of people who haven't been able to find work, and who've given up looking out of despair; it therefore usually runs around 1.5-2x the 'official' U-3 figure, which is probably why it doesn't get as much play in the news -- who wants to talk about 16% unemployment and bring everybody down? (I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies, I *do* believe in fairies...)

Of course, you have to take any figures you get from the BLS with a grain of salt, because they cook the numbers. For example, that gain of 103,000 jobs we posted in December? That didn't actually, you know, *happen*, not as such; what actually *happened* is that the BLS removed about four hundred thousand people from the unemployment rolls entirely, as 'no longer part of the labor force' -- which of course means that they're no longer counted against the unemployment numbers. By my admittedly unsophisticated reckoning, it would appear that, had the "not in labor force" adjustment been made, we'd be talking about coming out of December three hundred thousand jobs behind, not 100k ahead.

As for the rest: Corporate payola has become the fourth branch of our federal government, and most people on the hill and in the media (and in the White House) have little knowledge of and less interest in what it's like for people who don't live in Versailles-super-Potomac. Of course they're not talking about the real problems; they're much more interested in using the deficit and a so-called need for "austerity" to screw working people over that much harder.

Man charged in bizarre EXPLODING VIBRATOR plot

Aaron Em

What it says, I think...

...is that that part of Minnesota doesn't offer a hell of a lot of options.

Aaron Em

Long on viciousness, short on brains

And don't call me Shirley.

Aaron Em

It's called a 'mullet'...

...and it is alive and well in many areas of the United States, including my own hometown.

Aaron Em

Anything else would be a sucker bet...

...except the pickup might be a Ford or maybe a Dodge, and the shotgun's probably on the gun rack in the back window of the cab -- the passenger seat is for unregistered handguns, which are much more wieldy in the confines of a truck cab than long arms. (Sure, you could saw off a shotgun instead, but a) then you couldn't hunt with it any more, and b) a sawed-off shotgun'll send you to jail longer, because even in West Bumfuck, Alabama, it's considered a "gang banger weapon".)

Runaway hydroponic fungus attacks real-world Starship Voyager

Aaron Em

Envious much?

I can't really blame you -- it's not hard to envy someone who can apparently afford to throw away a quarter-million dollars. But pretending your objection is on moral grounds doesn't do you any favors with anyone.

Aaron Em


In at least some of the US (and apparently also to Google), it's known as a "breast binder".

In-flight fight for stubborn iPhone-loving teen

Aaron Em

Twats all round, then?

Not really seeing a victim here.

Assange: Text messages show rape allegations were 'set up'

Aaron Em

Oh, this again?

I'll believe they exist when they show up on Wikileaks.

LaCie XtremKey all-terrain USB flash drive

Aaron Em

Even better...

...can you show me where the hell the write-protect switches have been on every USB thumb drive I've bought in the last five frigging years? I realize that not everybody has the same needs I do -- that is, for a drive I can load with malware-removal tools and then prevent from catching the electronic clap every time I stick it in a dodgy socket -- but it sure would be nice if *somebody* out there had put a little thought into it.

Hell, I'd be happy just to add a write-protect switch of my own, but just you try getting datasheets out of Sandisk so you can find out which pin on their custom IC handles write enable --

New spaceplane proposed for NASA station crew contract

Aaron Em

Yeah, but...

...we already had a cosmodrome in Florida, and besides, Alaska is colder than hell -- Major Tom might find it familiar, but everybody else hates it.

Mastercard downed by Anon-Assange-fans

Aaron Em

Two reasons

1) The ones doing scams and pushing penis pills are at least half-bright; and

2) The teens doing it for the lulz really aren't.

I don't know about this LCDS thing I haven't been able to dig up a copy of yet, but LOIC doesn't even have a clue about the existence of such things as proxies, which means anyone who wants to find its users need do no more than turn 'netstat' output into a list of subpoenas, and the US ISP which will do anything with a subpoena other than immediately comply has yet to come into existence.

And if you downloaded a copy of LOIC, figured out how to use it, and did so, then you're going to have a hell of a time making the "OMG zombie" argument -- DAs might be ignorant, okay, but they can hire professionals to be not-ignorant for them.

Aaron Em

It is not, either

Merchant processors and merchants worldwide are reporting inability to access MasterCard's web gateways for accounts management, dispute/arbitration submission, et cetera -- a lot of administrative processes which will be held up a day or two, until the /b/tards get bored and wander away to dribble all over something else for a while.

This is not at all the same thing as MasterCards not working when they're swiped through POS terminals. If that were what was going on, the whole damn world would be screaming its head off, and half the /b/tards would already have been v& because they're mostly too stupid to know what proxies are for.

Aaron Em

"whether the US government leans on international companies for it's own political reasons"

Oh, only about as often as the sun comes up in the morning, or there's a spell of damp weather at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

Walmart falls in with Washington's war on terror

Aaron Em

"If you own a big farm, you are rich"

If you live in the US and you own the kind of farm you're thinking of -- that is, one where the livestock don't spend their entire existence in battery cages -- then you're poorer than dirt, in fact. That's how backwards we've allowed ourselves to become.

Aaron Em

We're all in deep shit, then

Because this is what nascent fascism looks like.

(And, yeah, I know that's a hard F word to use without sounding like some kind of paranoid alarmist, but if you think you've got something more accurate to call it, go right on ahead!)

PayPal banned WikiLeaks after US gov intervention

Aaron Em

Christ, yes, starting last week if possible

Take it from a US citizen -- if by this point you still trust our national government, our currency, or our multinational corporations at all, you are a fool.

Of course, you might be shooting too low by worrying about PayPal -- what about Visa and Mastercard? Are there any credible challenges to their global duopoly on payment-card transactions?

Final mission of shuttle Discovery postponed until February

Aaron Em

Hear, hear

I was going to note that, if we had ever developed a spacecraft which didn't require more fussing over than Secretariat*, our manned space program might not have come to this pathetic strait. But I think you've got a better point than I would have.

* Or Amy Winehouse, if you rather

CNN flashes gay todger over interwebs

Aaron Em

How the hell do you call that a close-up?

Do you wear a magnifying loupe throughout your daily occasions, or are you perhaps just an over-sensitive whiner awaiting only the excuse of a half-dozen square pixels' naughtiness to cough up rancid milk all over your security blanket and go toddling off to tattle to Teacher? Inquiring minds want to know!

'ALIEN' LIFE FOUND in California

Aaron Em

@Hughes: stop assuming we know everything

Or, it could just be that we humans haven't the faintest hint of the sort of experience and knowledge which could allow us accurately to evaluate the likelihood of our being alone in the universe, and all this nonsense that you armchair astrobiologist twats are engaging upon is completely meaningless for precisely that reason, and that I tried to bring a little actual common sense into the debate by pointing out that the bogus assumptions in play were even more bogus than the people making use of them might possibly recognize them to be. But we can't have that, can we?

Aaron Em

"Goes to the AC" what?

What kind of fool do you have to be to assume that our knowledge is so complete that only those forms of life we've encountered are granted the possibility of existing at all? Have we become not just an interplanetary species, but an interstellar one cosmopolitan enough to survey and catalog every star system in our galaxy, and I somehow slept through it?

Or, to put it slightly less rudely, I was working on the assumption that we humans don't actually yet know everything there is to know and even better are sensible enough not to try to reason from that ignorance, and assuming that others would do likewise. I fear I have been a bit too generous in that latter regard.

Aaron Em

FAIL fail

Like the other guy, you're ignoring the fact that, even if two separate and completely unrelated forms of life have evolved on Earth, that still only proves that life can evolve twice *on Earth*.

In order for that to demonstrate that the evolution of life in the universe at large is less unlikely, it's necessary to show either a) that highly Earthlike planets are abundant in the universe, thus providing plenty of environments for life like this, or b) that this independently evolved form of life has an energy economy which isn't strongly dependent on an Earthlike environment (even if that's the bottom of a 97-degree thermal pool), and can survive in a wide range of conditions so long as there's an ample supply of whatever it likes to metabolize.

But hey, don't look so down in the dumps! You're wrong in the first place to assume that, just because we don't know for certain of any evolutionary process leading to life save that which led to us, this may be the only place in the universe where life has evolved or could evolve. To make such an incredibly broad assumption, on the basis of no evidence at all, betokens I think a certain infatuation with the idea that Earth, and Earthly life, and especially humanity, is somehow *special*, that this particular lump of tumbling rock is so uniquely blessed among all the uncountable agglomerations of matter in this incomprehensibly vast universe as to be the one and only place where any life exists at all, much less life complex enough to come up with ideas like religion -- and make no mistake, the idea that Earth might be the only life-bearing planet in the universe is absolutely a religious idea, a mental security blanket against the frightening possibility that the universe not only does not love us, but does not care about or even notice our presence at all.

(Well, I say 'frightening', it's never bothered me all that much and I don't really know why everyone makes such a fuss, but apparently some people think it's a big deal if we're not here because some divine drunkard pissed on a rock and we were born from the foam, or whatever your favorite creation myth says happened instead.)

Why not assume instead that, given enough space and time, what happened once will happen twice -- that the evolution of life ab initio on this planet means that it's at the very least possible life has evolved ab initio elsewhere in the universe as well, and that, given the aforementioned incomprehensible vastness of said universe both in space and in time, the simple existence of the possibility all but guarantees that life *has* evolved ab initio, in all sorts of places and all sorts of ways that, absent an entirely new branch of physics, we'll never know about because our species will never solve the energy and time problems involved in interstellar travel?

Aaron Em

Much ado about nothing

(Look, Ma, I stole a title from the Bard! I'm obviously a lot more erudite than most of these inexcusable gobshites. *drool*)

But seriously, folks, NASA a few days ago: "We're going to tell you about this a week ahead of time, but only if you promise not to tell anyone about it until after we've already had a press conference to inform those news organizations we hold in higher regard than we do you, and once we've put paid to any hopes of an exclusive or of being first with the news, *then* you may set in type and print the tidbits of suddenly old news which we deign to give you."

I dunno, I guess you could get away with it if you're the State Department or something, because not a lot of news agencies are going to want to risk antagonizing, and thereby losing their preferential access to, a US government agency that's actually important or significant in some way. NASA, though? When was the last time anyone outside of academia had any respect for NASA? -- for that matter, when was the last time NASA had anything genuinely interesting to say to anyone outside of academia or the science-fiction fandom*? And what makes their PR flacks foolish enough to imagine they have tidbits tasty enough to put *any* news agencies at their beck and call?

I don't blame the Sun for shedding a bit of early light on the matter**, especially when there's so much buildup around something that's old news and frankly a bit dull besides; what surprises me is that it took as long as it did.

* Yes, (we think) we've spotted rocky non-gaseous planets around other stars, and that's lovely, or would be if we had any hope of getting any real first-hand information about any of them, even from an automated probe. But that isn't going to happen, at least not until long after the great-grandchildren of everyone reading this post have died. So, aside from a moment's faint hope that somewhere out there there's a planet playing host to a species which isn't screwing things up for itself as badly as we seem bound and determined to, what point to getting all hot and bothered about it?

** Did you see what I did just there?

Aaron Em

No it wouldn't

All that would prove is that Earth is even more fecund than we already knew; to argue from there that life must be commonplace in the universe necessitates the assumption that highly Earthlike planets are commonplace in the universe, something about which AFAIK we haven't nearly enough information to make even a reasonably reliable surmise in one direction or the other.

Selling Apples to Japan: Complicated as a Nipponese typewriter

Aaron Em

Apple squandered its leadership everywhere

Why should Japan be any different?

How to kill your computer

Aaron Em

Depressing indeed

But you can't call him entirely talentless -- anybody can hit a laptop with a sledgehammer; he'd have to be one hell of a hustler to parlay it into gallery openings.

(Also keep in mind that this is southern California, Promised Land of idiots who believe there's no reason for anyone to have any kind of firearm ever because they're scary and evil and bad, so the fact that he shoots some of the laptops counts for a little extra "transgressive" frisson. Never mind that I've known lots of people who grew up putting holes just like those into road signs -- if rednecks do it, it *can't* be art.)

LHC boffins turn lead into quarko-gluotic Big Bang incrediblo-stuff

Aaron Em

Of course they do

I've always known the world would end on a Monday; why not this one?

Filthy PCs: The X-rated circus of horrors

Aaron Em

And I don't bother cleaning my machines much

Because they rarely need it, because I'm not such a damn fool that I run them on a dusty carpet under a desk where nobody's bothered to vacuum since 1979. It's amazing how clean a PC will stay when you have it up on a table where it can get a breath of fresh air!

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