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Comment: Re:technically (Score 3, Interesting) 92

by NecroBones (#39262201) Attached to: 20th Anniversary of Michelangelo Virus Scare

I really feel it was a combination. It was dramatically over-hyped, but at the same time that did serve to increase awareness and thus diminish the overall impact, much like the Y2K issue as mentioned.

The article correctly calls it a panic, IMHO.

I think also the virus was much less effective than people realized for a few important reasons:

1. Back then people were a lot less likely to have the internal clock set properly on their computers.

2. When and if the payload would trigger, the virus would eliminate itself. Much like a biological virus, if it kills the host, it ruins its chances for further infections.

Of course I found it amusing that some of the more interesting viruses saw a lot less press. Such as "Casino", which would trash your disk's system area, but it would restore it from a backup in RAM if you could win in the slot-machine game it popped up. That's much more evil and amusing. :)

Comment: Talking skulls (Score 2) 249

by NecroBones (#37860330) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Are You Haunting Your House This Hallowe'en?

I set up a large display on the front of my house, in what little space I have. But the only real technological bit, other than lights and flickering LEDs, and a Flying Crank Ghost, is a set of talking skulls. I use the "Scary Terry" servo control system, which is sold as a kit from Cowlacious.

Test of my routine during assembly

Same routine, deployed into the display (gradual echo effect was accidental)

My display's web gallery

Comment: Re:Been done (Score 2) 106

by NecroBones (#37256124) Attached to: Cornell's Creative Machines Lab Lets Chatbots Interact

I'm glad people are pointing out that there's really nothing special going on here. Eliza and other similar chat bot programs have been around for a very long time, and this certainly isn't the first time anyone has had two of them talk to each other. The only difference being that this one has visible avatars and speech synthesis, recorded for all of youtube to enjoy. It's amusing and worth sharing for that reason, but there's no breakthrough here.

The conversation strikes me as actually quite typical for this sort of chatbot, not unlike transcripts easily available for the last couple of decades. Many of the Loebner Prize competitors have much more natural conversations. And I should know, my entry in the competition many years ago failed horrendously. :)

Comment: Re:Not much to do (Score 1) 459

by NecroBones (#35280166) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is There a War Against Small Mail Servers?

Even static-IP VPS solutions are under fire for this. I host my own mail, and had been using my VPS for out-bound mail for quite a while, but I was increasingly having mail delayed for hours or blocked completely by some of the larger ISPs. My only solution was to add a static route to use comcasts outbound mail servers instead of my VPS, since I'm behind a comcast business line.

For a small business mail server, apparently your best bet is to use your ISP's mail server with a static mail route, unfortunately. And don't forget to set up SPF records with a proper include.

Comment: Re:didn't ask the right people (was: Re:Yes) (Score 1) 646

by NecroBones (#32970280) Attached to: Does Anyone Really Prefer Glossy Screens?

That's a very good point (in reference to the anti-glare surface), and it probably has to boil down to personal preference. Even on typical matte-finish screens, individual pixels are still pretty clearly defined. Personally, I wouldn't describe the difference with a glossy screen using the word "vivid", but perhaps more "sharp".

But in my case, I find the reflections far more distracting and problematic than the mild loss of image quality that an anti-glare matte surface provides.

Comment: Re:didn't ask the right people (was: Re:Yes) (Score 1) 646

by NecroBones (#32967722) Attached to: Does Anyone Really Prefer Glossy Screens?

I've never gotten why people think glossy screens are inherently more vivid. I think you're right about it just being coincidental that they're also newer displays.

The underlying LCD isn't necessarily any different between a glossy or matte finish in front of it. So why do people prefer to see reflections in their screen? I've gone to considerable effort at times to position displays so as to reduce glare and reflections, so I certainly have no desire to make the problem worse by design.

I still have yet to see an argument in favor of glossy screens that seems valid.

Comment: Re:Starflight (Score 1) 325

by NecroBones (#31596620) Attached to: The Unsung Heroes of PC Gaming History

I'm glad someone mentioned Starflight! This game was truly ahead of its time. Back when PC games were clunky with non-intuitive interfaces, this game reduced the controls to simple menu-based systems using the arrow keys and spacebar, and yet was robust enough to have a level of depth as a space RPG game that had never been seen before.

At the time, I played it on an original 4.77MHz IBM PC. The game was on two 360K floppies (and you could benefit greatly from having 2 drives to use both disks simultaneously).

The universe was fractal generated, allowing for over 800 unique planets with explorable surface maps.

It was highly influential on many games to come, including Star Control II which was another excellent game.

Comment: Re:UO wasn't that much fun really (Score 1) 480

by NecroBones (#31237222) Attached to: Why Are There No Popular <em>Ultima Online</em>-Like MMOs?

I was about to say that this was a well-thought out post, one I might have written about UO myself, until I got to the part about "a screenshot comic series", and then thought maybe I _did_ write this in my sleep or something. :)

Hey there Delusion, good to see you. Long time no see! I was Bones Dragon, in another life. :)

I urge everyone here to read Delusion's post if you want to understand UO and its player-base, in the context of the nascent 1997 MMO community. He really nails it.

Medicine

Artificial Brain '10 Years Away' 539

Posted by samzenpus
from the batteries-not-included dept.
SpuriousLogic writes "A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed. Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already built elements of a rat brain. He told the TED global conference in Oxford that a synthetic human brain would be of particular use finding treatments for mental illnesses. Around two billion people are thought to suffer some kind of brain impairment, he said. 'It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years,' he said."
The Military

US, Russia Reach Nuclear Arsenal Agreement 413

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-hug-your-children-with-nuclear-arms dept.
Peace Corps Library writes "The United States and Russia, seeking to move forward on one of the most significant arms control treaties since the end of the cold war, announced that they had reached a preliminary agreement on cutting each country's stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons, effectively setting the stage for a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), a cold war-era pact that expires in December. Under the framework, negotiators are to be instructed to craft a treaty that would cut strategic warheads for each side to between 1,500 and 1,675, down from the limit of 2,200 slated to take effect in 2012 under the Treaty of Moscow (PDF) signed by President George W. Bush. The limit on delivery vehicles would be cut to between 500 and 1,100 from the 1,600 currently allowed under Start. Perhaps more important than the specific limits would be a revised and extended verification system that otherwise would expire with Start in December. The United States currently has 1,198 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based missiles and bombers, which together are capable of delivering 5,576 warheads, according to its most recent Start report in January, while Russia reported that it has 816 delivery vehicles capable of delivering 3,909 warheads. 'We have a mutual interest in protecting both of our populations from the kinds of danger that weapons proliferation is presenting today,' said President Obama."
Games

On Realism and Virtual Murder 473

Posted by Soulskill
from the joyride-down-a-slippery-slope dept.
Gamasutra has an interesting article about how the push toward realistic graphics and extremely lifelike characters in modern games is making the term "murder simulator" — once laughed off for referring to pixelated dying Nazis — a concept to take more seriously. The author is careful to simply explore the issue, and not come to a specific conclusion; he doesn't say that we should or shouldn't prevent it from happening, only that it's worth consideration. (One section is even titled "Forget the kids," saying that decisions for what children play fall under parental responsibility.) Quoting: "We should start rethinking these issues now before we all slide down the slope together and can't pull ourselves back up again. Or, even worse, before governments step in and dictate what can and can't be depicted or simulated in video games via legislation. ... Obviously, what makes an acceptable game play experience for each player is a personal choice that should be judged on a person-by-person basis (or on a parent to child basis), and I believe it should stay that way. As for me, I'm already drawing the line at BioShock — I can barely stomach the game as it is. Sure, I could play it more and desensitize myself, but I don't want to. And that's just me. It's up to you and a million other adult gamers to decide what's best for yourselves and to draw the line on virtual violence where you feel most comfortable."

Comment: Re:Heh.. you will find a lot of hostility (Score 1) 290

by NecroBones (#28464807) Attached to: The Imminent Demise of SORBS

Occasionally? Apparently you either:

A. Are a spammer, or
B. Are completely clueless

VPS is rapidly becoming *the* most popular hosting method used by non bot herder spammers.

Or C. Neither. Thanks for assuming I don't know what I'm doing.

I'm referring to Linode.com. It's possible that it's getting abused by spammers occasionally, but I'm not aware of such complaints, it's a relatively small operation, and the staff seems pretty on-the-ball. The times that UCE-protect has added us to their blacklist that I'm aware of, it has been entirely due to IPs outside the Linode ranges as far as I could tell (which is supported by their arguments on the forum). I could be wrong, of course.

Whether it's a fair world or not, blacklisting entire blocks and not just the bot-infected or spammer hosts does more harm than good, especially when you're talking about blocking entire netblocks that cross multiple businesses full of non-spammer customers.

I am a mail admin, and I'm aware of VPS reputation, but that's not what this is about. I wouldn't use UCE-protect because I see it as nothing but a source of false-positives. Stopping spam is an important service to your users, but getting their legit mail through is more important.

Full STOP yourself.

Space

NASA Sticking To Imperial Units For Shuttle Replacement 901

Posted by Soulskill
from the stones-per-furlong dept.
JerryQ sends in a story at New Scientist about the criticism NASA is taking for deciding to use Imperial units in the development of the Constellation program, their project to replace the space shuttle. "The sticking point is that Ares is a shuttle-derived design — it uses solid rocket boosters whose dimensions and technology are based on those currently strapped to either side of the shuttle's giant liquid fuel tank. And the shuttle's 30-year-old specifications, design drawings and software are rooted in pounds and feet rather than newtons and meters. ... NASA recently calculated that converting the relevant drawings, software and documentation to the 'International System' of units (SI) would cost a total of $370 million — almost half the cost of a 2009 shuttle launch, which costs a total of $759 million. 'We found the cost of converting to SI would exceed what we can afford,' says [NASA spokesman Grey Hautaluoma]."

Comment: Re:Heh.. you will find a lot of hostility (Score 1) 290

by NecroBones (#28452351) Attached to: The Imminent Demise of SORBS

You're complaining about SORBS but you use uceprotect? Yikes.

Uceprotect is one of those zealots that blocks entire /16 blocks because of a few spam sources, across entire ISPs.

On the VPS service I use, we occasionally get blocked because of some spammer IPs on an entirely different service, because further up the chain we share a common provider. To make it even more ridiculous, if we complain about this amongst ourselves on the VPS service's forum, the uceprotect folks come into the forum (they don't use the VPS service themselves as far as I know) and ARGUE WITH US, trying to tell us why WE'RE TO BLAME, as customers of a VPS service whose datacenter's ISP is shared by a few bots somewhere in the chain.

I'm not defending SORBS, but if you're going to complain about poor practices, you need to unclude uceprotect too.

One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.

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