* Posts by Demosthenes Locke

15 posts • joined 15 Nov 2011

Truth, Justice, and the American Huawei: Chinese tech giant tries to convince US court ban is unconstitutional

Demosthenes Locke

If denial to provide financial aid is not "punishment", then declining to do business with a foreign corporation determined to not have the best interests of their customers in mind is also not "punishment". It is nothing more than saying "We choose to take our business elsewhere. Now get off our lawn." The rest, "...or I'll part your hair with a shotgun. Now GIT!" is implied and doesn't need saying out loud.

Hams try to re-carve the amateur radio spectrum in fight over open or encoded transmissions

Demosthenes Locke

There is a BIG difference between obscuring the meaning of content and encoding it to improve propagation and communication. FT8 and JS8Call are NOT "encryption". They are digital encoding schemes, the full specifications of which are freely and openly available. Anyone can download the programs needed to convert the transmissions to human-readable text. In fact, the source code of those programs is also freely and openly available.

The regulations against encryption *specifically* state that the purpose of the encryption must be to OBSCURE meaning. If there is no obscuring of meaning, there is no illegal encryption. Morse code is just unintelligible beeps and boops to someone who hasn't taken the time and effort to learn it, and there are many programs and hardware devices that can easily decode Morse characters into normal text. There is no obscuring of meaning with the intent of preventing others from understanding it. It simply requires an application of freely-available information and skill.

A single-sideband transmission is generally unintelligible to a standard amplitude-modulation receiver. It sounds vaguely like Donald Duck gargling Listerine. Is that "encrypted"? Radio itself is audio frequency heterodyned upon a radio frequency. It requires special equipment to deheterodyne the signal and make the audio portion understandable. Is that "encrypted"? Neither are encryption because the method for making sense of it is freely available, and it was not done for the purpose of obscuring communication, but for facilitating it. Sideband phone has effectively more power radiated, so it travels further. It's less susceptible to atmospheric interference than AM. There's also FM modulation -- is that encryption? No, because it's not different from AM in order to obscure the meaning, but to make it more intelligible, as an FM receiver is less prone to interference that would reduce intelligibility of an AM signal with the same imposed information.

This is just another case of people who fetishize older systems of communication and are resistant to newer methods. AM made spark-gap radio obsolete, so spark-gap users complained about it. SSB reduced the importance of AM, so the users of AM complained. Users of morse code complained about phone. AM users also complained about FM. HF users complained about VHF and UHF. The list goes on and on. This is a complaint from analog users who don't want to learn the new digital techniques, which are freely open for anyone to learn and use.

All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer

Demosthenes Locke

Re: "This will only take a second..."

Speaking of trading whisky...

If I were to get roped into doing tech support (again) for someone's computer, I'd tell them my rate is a CROCK of Tullamore Dew (the crock, not the bottle, dangit!) PER HOUR. That works out these days to around $30-40 an hour, a VERY reasonable rate, but like has been said, it just sounds so much more expensive that they usually just take it to Geek Squad in the morning.

LG's beer-making bot singlehandedly sucks all fun, boffinry from home brewing

Demosthenes Locke

I used to homebrew my own beer many years ago. I had two recipes I fancied best: A cherry stout I immediately named "Olde Maidenhead", and a malt-forward bock I called "Howling Black Death Bock".

After a number of very tasty batches, I decided I'd had enough of making beer and switched to homemade soda. They had nifty names too, like "Brigid's Blessing Cinnamon Ginger Beer", "Bubonicola", and "Skeleton Key Lime Pie" -- which actually did taste like key lime pie, real key lime juice giving it the kick from a good pie filling, but based on a vanilla cream soda base, so after the first tang of the lime, the finish was just like a graham cracker crust lingering on the tongue.

I called my home brewing concern "Bubonic Brewery, Ltd." The logo was a sketchy looking rat dancing on its hind legs, a beer stein in each of its front paws. Made for catchy labels and some good-natured joking. I imagined commercials for my wares, complete with a catchy tagline: "Look for the sign of the dancing rat -- Bubonic Brewery, Ltd."

Now you can tell someone to literally go f--k themselves over the internet: Remote-control mock-cock patent dies

Demosthenes Locke

Re: Oh, doughnuts!

The Laundry over in Dancy House has a Magic Wand connected up to a summoning grid and a captive succubus, sort of an Internet of Things That Go Bump And Grind in the Night.

'Your computer has a virus' cold call con artists on the rise – Microsoft

Demosthenes Locke

Don't forget that you can slap the good ol' Jolly Roger Telephone Company into the call and let their robot talk to the nice support technician.


Mum? Dad? Can I have a 3D XPoint disk for my birthday?

Demosthenes Locke

I just saw a video on Linus Tech Tips about the Optane SSD products. The question "Why Did Intel Even Make This?" is I think a cogent one. https://youtu.be/oWqO36Zj65k

Military techie mangled minicomputer under nose of scary sergeant

Demosthenes Locke

Fifteen minutes, a dental-floss box, my pocketknife, and some superglue later, that switch would have a nifty new safety cap on it that would have to be uncovered before the switch could be turned on OR off.

I don't care WHAT the electricians say can or can't be done. If I had more time and under $50, I'd remove the switch from that box, run a piece of Romex or BX a foot to the side, and put the switch into a surface-mount box of its own, complete with a security cover over it, perhaps with a key lock. Nothing is impossible when it comes to wall switches, there's just things that they don't WANT to do because it would be difficult, people would bitch about its appearance, or they'd get yelled at over some zoning or code regulation.

I'd get the thing done, and if someone had an issue with it, I'd tell 'em it's a personal problem, go talk to the Chaplain.

Once more, with feeling: Dawn to take a closer look at Ceres

Demosthenes Locke

But what about the protomolecule on Eros? Will Holden and the rest of the Rocinante crew get away?


Ex-sperm-inate! Sam the sex-droid 'heavily soiled' in randy nerd rampage

Demosthenes Locke


Brought to you by: The Space Pope.


.. ..-. / -.-- --- ..- / -.-. .- -. / .-. . .- -.. / - .... .. ... then a US Navy fondleslab just put you out of a job

Demosthenes Locke

I can lend the Navy a slide rule in case they need one.

BS Detection 101 becomes actual University subject

Demosthenes Locke

I fired a doctor because he couldn't tell me the difference between absolute risk and relative risk.

One of my favorite sources to send someone to about the massively nasty way people misuse statistics in order to fool people into thinking they're telling the truth about something is a Youtube video by Tom Naughton, creator of the documentary "Fat Head", debunking the documentary "Supersize Me". The video is called "Science for Smart People". It's worth a look. https://youtu.be/y1RXvBveht0

No Soylent for Santa after key ingredient supply is choked off

Demosthenes Locke

From what I gathered, the 1.6 version that caused the rectal ruckus had changed from the 1.5 version only slightly -- primarily, in the addition of that algal flour. Since that was the only substantive change, then problems ensued, it's only reasonable to suspect the new ingredient you just added. It's like coding. If you add a line to a program that was working fine, and it starts suddenly failing, it's a good idea to check that line you just added to see if that's what's caused the problem to surface. It still might not be that line that's failing, but it might have caused side effects in logic in other areas, making the code fail.

Same thing here. The flour itself is probably not BAD, but it may be interacting with the other ingredients that were already there in a fashion that was unexpected. The wise thing is to remove it the time being while they run laboratory tests to find out what exactly was happening to cause the distress. Unless TerraVia thinks it's ethical to perform those tests on the CUSTOMERS, and leave it IN?

Stay out of my server room!

Demosthenes Locke

Probably the most important rule about your server room is...

...don't let the office manager design it.

Seriously, nobody but an IT professional should be designing a server room. Case in point, a law firm I worked at for a summer bought a lovely PDP-11 for internal data processing (yes, this was a while ago). They set up a lovely little room in the office with a picture window into the conference room, so they could show it off. There was lots of air conditioning and electrical stuff, everything that anyone could want.

When they unveiled the new computer, they showed it off to the staff, letting us oooh and ahhh at it through the lovely picture window. But when I trooped dutifully past the window to pay homage to our new electronic overlord, I turned to one of the firm's partners and said: "Why is there CARPETING in that room?" Indeed, they didn't put down a proper floor. They left the same beautiful thick-pile carpeting in the room that was in the rest of the office.

He didn't get it. "What's carpet got to do with anything? That's expensive wool carpet, none of that cheap synthetic stuff!"

So I reply, "But it generates STATIC ELECTRICITY! There's a reason why computer rooms have those nifty raised floors!"

He tut-tutted it away. "Those floors are expensive hoo-hah. There's no reason for them, and they're ugly. We want this to be a centerpiece for the office! You can't use those silly computer floors for that!"

So I finally said, pleadingly, "Please tell me you at least had it treated with an anti-static preparation? The first spark that hits that computer could fry it!"

"Pish and tosh," he said. He actually SAID "pish and tosh", even though this was in Chicago. "We've been assured that this is a perfectly adequate installation. See, I'll show you!" He walked over and opened a door into the computer room. I followed, staying as far from the machine as I could, lest I be accused of what was to come. He strode purposefully to the machine, proudly, and waved a finger toward the front panel. "This is a state of the art..." He didn't finish the sentence, because a fat spark leaped from his finger to a switch fitting on the front of the machine. There was a loud SNAP. And the machine went DARK. It stopped whirring powerfully. It went silent.


He turned around and looked at me and said "Don't. Say. It."

I didn't have to. I simply smiled a little smile and beat a hasty retreat. I hear it cost about 5 grand to fix the machine, and another 10 grand for a proper floor.

PETA riled by Mario's raccoon skin suit

Demosthenes Locke

Boom and Bust of the Animal Spirits


Tanuki is MYTHICAL. It's a spirit animal. It doesn't really exist. There is no "real life" raccoon-dog to be skinned for its fur. So calm down, count ten chimpanzees, eat a garden burger, and go play checkers or something. You're panicking over nothing, because there are no poor, innocent tanukis being killed and skinned by evil Italian plumbers.


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