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Journal: Midnight Satellite identified (sort of)

Journal by DisownedSky

In this entry, I described something I thought was pretty anomalous. Since then, I've seen something very similar several times. The other day, I managed to get some 10x binoculars on it when it was right overhead. What I saw no longer looked like a point source, but an aircraft with orange lights running down the length of the underside of its fuselage. No running lights on the wingtips that I could discern. This must be some kind of military aircraft, perhaps a tanker, but its odd appearance is simply due to a bright underside light That seems to be roughly omnidirectional in its brightness.

I had hoped for something stranger, but at least there is one less wild goose to chase.

Patents

Journal: Mystery Patent Theater 3000

Journal by bersl2

I was watching a few episodes of MST3k recently, one of which was Hercules Against the Moon Men. This is the episode which introduced the concept of DEEP HURTING . I have had that soundbite stuck in my head since then.

Enter the farcical massive patent dump by Mr. Allen. It is but the newest example of stupid patent litigation over concepts of information systems and algorithms. News of these patent suits is becoming more burdensome on (at the very least) my sanity. And these patent problems are relentless. So when I was attempting to think of some phrase which best embodied my perception of this endless stream of patent stupidity, DEEP HURTING is what came to mind.

More extensively, following patents on concepts used with computers and information systems is enough like the "plot" of MST3k that I'm starting to think that the only way to survive this with our sanity will be to laugh and mock our way through them. Oh, sure, we'll need to take them seriously at times to work around them or invalidate them, yet that alone will not be sufficient to preserve sanity. Only, I'm not even sure how something like this could be done.

Or maybe I'm already going mad, and this is the stupidest thing you've heard in the past 24 hours.

DEEP HURTING. DEEP HURTING

derp

User Journal

Journal: Fucked Up Fables: Six Soldiers Of Fortune

Journal by Moraelin
(With apologies to the brothes Grimm.)

There was once a man who was a Jack-of-all-trades; he had served in the war, and had been brave and bold, but at the end of it he was sent about his business, with three farthings and his discharge.

"I am not going to stand this," said he; "wait till I find the right man to help me, and the king shall give me all the treasures of his kingdom before he has done with me."

Then, full of wrath he went along the road and came to a huntsman who was kneeling on one knee and taking careful aim with his musket.

"Huntsman," said the leader, "what are you aiming at?"

"Two miles from here," answered he, "there sits a fly on the bough of an oak-tree, I mean to put a bullet into its left eye."

"Oh, come along with me," said the leader; "the two of us together can stand against the world."

The huntsman was quite willing to go with him, and so they went on till they came to a man standing on one leg, and the other had been taken off and was lying near him.

"You seem to have got a handy way of resting yourself," said the leader to the man.

"I am a runner," answered he, "and in order to keep myself from going too fast I have taken off a leg, for when I run with both, I go faster than a bird can fly."

"Oh, go with me," cried the leader, "three of us together may well stand against the world."

And to make the long story short, he went and gathered a few more companions, each with a grander claim to some super-ability than the others.

Meanwhile, the old king had tried to persuade his daughter to marry the young and respected son of a duke, for he had no sons and was thinking that the future duke might once make a good king too. Unfortunately the young princess had read a few books too many, and was fond of imagining herself as quite the real Amazon. She demanded of her father that if any man is to win her hand, he must best her in a contest of speed, endurance and military skill, like some ancient queen was said to have chosen her husband. And any man entering the contest must be willing to bet his very life on the outcome.

Now the king was fairly open minded for that age, and more than willing to admit that some women could make fine warriors. His people were still remembering the fierce shieldmaidens of the northmen, for example. But his daughter had always been a sickly bookworm, always short of breath, and also a little on the chubby side. The thought of her besting a trained knight was too much.

Wisely, the king said he'll go to his room to think about it, and laughed himself nearly to death into the pillow.

Still, he figured out that it's simpler than arguing with his daughter. So he agreed to send the town cryer to proclaim the decision. Secretly, he also sent a runner to the duke, urging him to send his son with the swiftest horse to enter the contest he cannot possibly lose.

Unfortunately for the duke's son, the ex-mercenary and his merry band were just entering to city as the cryer proclaimed the news. Thinking that with the help of his marvelous companions he cannot lose, he went straight to the king and asked to be tested against the princess.

The king was taken aback by the audacity of a common man to ask to marry a princess, but he realized that his announcement hadn't actually mentioned any restrictions. Fancying himself a man of great honesty and honour, the king agreed to keep his word and let him try, and sent for the princess to decide the test. She chose a race to a far away well, and the first who would make it back with a pitcher full of water would win.

"Easier than I expected," thought our ex-mercenary. "My runner will surely best any man or woman in the land." And asking for a little time to prepare, he went and asked his man with a detachable leg to dress in his clothes and run the race in his stead.

So the court gathered to watch, and at the blow of a horn the two competitors were off... much to the amusement of everyone present. The princess was soon panting and tripping over her long skirt, and making very poor progress. Unfortunately, her opponent was making even poorer progress, limping and cursing and dragging a leg behind him.

By evening, the race was over, with the princess handing her father the pitcher a good ten minutes before her opponent.

The ex-mercenary was aghast, He went to the man with the detachable leg and started screaming at him, "What was that all about?! What did you think you were doing?! Why didn't you run faster than a bird, like you said you would?!"

"Dude, " said the other man to his defense, "I thought you were kidding and I answered in kind. Haven't you seen a wooden leg before? I lost my real leg to a cannonball at the siege of Altdorf."

The conversation would have continued longer, but a squad of the king's guards showed up and took our depressed ex-mercenary to the king.

"Son, " said the king, "I figure you've lost fair and square, and it's only fair that you keep your end of the bargain. You have until morning to make your peace with God, assisted by the castle's priest. But since I like your courage, you shall not hang like a common rogue. You shall be beheaded at dawn, by sword, like a knight or noble would."

"No, father, wait!" intervened the princess who, truth be told, was starting to find the man more handsome than the groom her father had chosen for her. "This man has shown great valour in taking the challenge. Should we not give him a second chance?"

The king rolled that thought around in his head for a bit, then spoke, "That is very chivalrous of you, my daughter, and it would hardly be befitting me to stand in the way of such chivalry. Fine. Choose your next challenge, then, and tomorrow he shall face you again for his life."

This time the princess chose a contest of archery. Our hero politely inquired if he may use a gun, saying that it was a more familiar weapon to him. The princess agreed. With that, the king called the meeting over, and asked the guards to lead the man and his companions to a guest room in the palace.

So this time the ex-mercenary asked his hunter companion to dress like him and go in his stead the next day.

The next day, two large targets were set at a hundred paces away. The two contestants were given a dozen arrows and respectively a dozen bullets, and told to start shooting.

Again the princess did rather poorly, only now occuring to her that reading about ancient Scythian archer women didn't actually count as archery training. Only half of her arrows hit the target at all, and none of them went even close to the bullseye.

Unfortunately our hero's sharpshooter did even worse, with barely two of his shots even touching the target. As the court jester remarked, he did at least get one bull's eye. He actually shot the eye of a bull across the road to the right, dropping him dead on the spot. But since it wasn't on his target, it didn't count.

Again, our ex-mercenary was shocked and he went to berate his huntsman, "What in the Lord's name was that all about?! Didn't you say you could hit a fly in the eye from two miles away?! How could you miss a five foot wide target at a hundred paces?! I could have shot a higher score myself than you and that tomboy put together!!"

"To be honest, " the hunter answered, staring at his own shoes, "that was a joke, and it never occured to me that anyone would take it seriously. I mean, really," he continued as he showed his gun, "this is a smoothbore musket. You said you were in the army, for crying out loud. Two miles? It can't even shoot a ball past two hundred paces. Even at one hundred, as my old captain used to say, the only way to hit a man is if you aimed at another man."

And as the guards were taking him first to the king, and then to the place of his execution, it occured to our hero that maybe he should have tested his employees instead of simply believing any wild claim.

User Journal

Journal: Interface 2

Journal by Oculus Habent
OK, seriously... it took me two minutes to figure out that my last journal was too old to comment in... just couldn't seem to see that line of text in the haze of an interface.
User Journal

Journal: Fucked Up Fables: The Ass In The Lion Skin

Journal by Moraelin

One day an Ass put on a Lion's skin and proceeded to amuse himself by taking a stroll through the woods, trying to scare all animals he encountered. He brayed at a Wolf in what he thought to be a good enough imitation of a lion's roar, and the Wolf ran away into the bush. He did the same to a Monkey, and the monkey too ran up into a tree. The Ass was proud of himself. At long last he saw a Fox, and proceeded to do his best imitation of a lion's roar at him too.

The Fox however was a lot less than impressed, and answered, "Ho ho ho, if it isn't an ass trying to look important. Congratulations, though, I almost took you seriously until you opened your mouth."

Not minding the Ass's dejected looks much, the Fox continued, "But seriously, don't you have something else to do or someone else to bother? I've worked 60 hours this week so far, and it's only Friday _morning_, and, frankly, I have neither the time nor the mood to entertain you guys." And the Fox trotted along, ignoring the Ass.

The Ass was now depressed and he went to the side to munch on some leaves, and he started drawing doodles in the dirt with a hoof to pass the time and take his mind off the brutal rejection he had just received. He ate and he doodled, but somehow he just couldn't take his mind off it.

Suddenly he heard a voice nearby, "Ah, finally someone with some fashion sense. I was starting to think it's a lost cause..." As the startled Ass rose his eyes, he saw an impressively tall Lion in front of him, eyeing him and his doodles in the dirt.

"I'm toast," thought the Ass, "there's no way a Lion would mistake me for the real thing."

So, in desperation, the Ass started to bray at him. "Syyynergy!" He brayed. "Leverage! TCO! Customer-centric! Industry best-practices!"

"Ah, " brayed the new 'Lion' right back, in the best donkey language, "so you speak management too. This day is looking brighter already. Between you and me, the other candidates are a joke. Have you seen what they wear to an interview? By the way, you _are_ here about the job opening, right?"

"Huh? What job?," replied the bewildered Ass.

"Well, to keep the story short," brayed the 'Lion', "I used to be the manager of this forest clearing, but they promoted me, so now I have to find a replacement. And Tim here," said the 'Lion' pointing to yet another Ass dressed in a lion skin, "is our HR representative. He'll help me pick a good candidate. I guess you haven't sent in a CV either, since you're not here for the interview, but I guess we could bend the rules a bit if you want to take part anyway."

"Uh, ok..." answered the Ass, still not entirely sure what he's walked into.

"I see you brought a sample of your work too," continued the 'Lion', pointing a hoof at the doodles in the dirt. "Nice flowchart. What is it of?"

"Oh, that," grinned the Ass, "nothing in particular. I was just thinking of food, mostly."

"And you drew a good hundred square metres of flowchart just about that? I'm impressed. Reminds me of some of my best work: the corporate regulation and flowchart of how to piss. Admittedly, it was mostly to annoy the Wolf, but I digress. Well, I can't make a definitive commitment yet, so this is strictly off record and non-binding, but I think your chances are good. We'll call you later if we decide to hire you."

User Journal

Journal: The Fanboy Bullshit Form

Journal by Moraelin

In the interest of fanboys and zealots everywhere, and to spare them the minimal thinking effort, I propose the following form. All the options are genuine from genuine posts encountered on the Internet in the last decade. The wording may not be the original, but the spirit hasn't been altered at all.

You are a liar, and the feature/bug (cross out the one that doesn't apply) you talk about doesn't even exist, because:
 
[] I haven't personally seen it happen, therefore it doesn't exist.
[] It only happens once every 1-2 hours on my computer. (But that won't stop me from both it doesn't exist.)
[] ... and even that is my fault. (But that won't stop me from pretending that I'm an expert on what to do on your computer.)
[] Nobody told me about it.
[] It only seems to happen to a couple (of hundreds) of whiners.
[] "Everyone" knows it's not true.
[] "Everyone" knows it can't be true for programs made by _______________ (insert company.)
[] I once worked as Level 1 tech support at an ISP, and had to deal with your kind of idiots every day.
 
You're only claiming that because you're:
 
[] paid by _______________ (insert same, or competitor company) to post that
[] brainwashed by __________________ (insert same, or competitor company)
[] not elite enough to like the right stuff, let me tell you what your tastes should be.
[] a liar.
[] a troll.
[] in denial.
[] against innovation.
[] having mental problems that you confuse for having different tastes than I do.
[] too stupid to use a computer.
 
The problems you encountered -- and which I still claim that it doesn't exist -- are your own damned fault, and can be solved by:
 
[] defragging your computer. (Race conditions and crashes just appear out of nowhere, if you forget to defrag your computer.)
[] activating AA in your drivers. (AA solves rendering artefacts. Broken graphics and glitches are called artefacts too. You do the maths.)
[] buying a new quad-core triple-SLI compressor-cooled overclocked computer. (What do you mean your config matches the recommended specs? If you don't have a computer that cost $5000, you shouldn't be playing games at all.)
[] replacing your motherboard with a compatible one.
[] turning off your firewall and/or antivirus.
[] rebooting your computer. (As any Level 1 tech support guy knows, that's the miracle cure for everything.)
[] learning to play the damned game. (Yes, falling through the ground is just because you're a noob.)
[] stopping being so lame as to do or like other things in a game than I do.
[] saving every 5 minutes in a different slot.
[] using the cheats / external trainer programs. (Hey, it's already playable with that cheat, so stop asking to fix the game.)
[] stopping posting about it! If people find out that the game sucks, there won't be enough players to make mods that fix it!
[] introspection and realizing that only your mental problems and personality deffects prevent you from seeing things exactly my way.
[] packing your computer in the original carton, taking it back to the shop, and telling them that you're too fucking stupid to own a computer.
 
I am an authoritative source on the subject because:
 
[] I have used the program for few minutes.
[] ... on a friend's computer.
[] I have installed it on a computer.
[] Although I haven't yet, I plan to use the program in the future.
[] ... and I have a good feeling about it.
[] I have read about it in another thread.
[] A couple of people have aggreed with me before.
[] I know that _______________ (insert company) would never do that.
[] My user id is lower.
[] I have a gazillion of level 70 characters! On every server!
[] I was in the beta! (But somehow it's just not recorded anywhere.)
[] I could pwn your sorry ass in the game.
[] I could beat you up IRL.
[] My dad probably makes more money than yours.
[] I once worked as Level 1 tech-support for an ISP, and that makes me the expert on all software, hardware and users.
 
Furthermore, I'd like to state that:
 
[] you're a liar.
[] you're a noob.
[] I'm going to mod you down in other threads for disaggreeing with me.
[] someone should mod you down in this thread too, for disaggreeing with me.
[] you'll only have the right to criticize it, when you can make a better program.
[] if you don't like it, fix it yourself.
[] you're too damn impatient. It will rule after they patch it and/or people make mods that fix it.
[] it's people like you who are the problem with society today.
[] you're living proof of what's wrong with education today.
[] we need a goddamn IQ test before letting idiots like you use a computer.
[] you mis-spelled "math" as "maths", therefore you're stupid and uneducated, and nobody should listen to your opinion.
[] I don't even understand what your problem is. Learn to write more than a paragraph, noob.
[] nobody has time to read a whole page about where the bug happens. If you can't say it in 1 sentence or less, it's not worth reading.
[] people should just respect and listen to us who've earned our expertise in Level 1 tech support.

User Journal

Journal: Attention Freaks and Fans 3

Journal by sm62704

I've managed to get the password to my old "mcgrew" account, so I won't be using this one any more. Its first journal will reference and link this account.

If you are on my "fans" list, I'll be adding you to the "friends" list of the mcgrew account. Please be patient; I'm doing it alphabetically, and by hand, and slashdot only lets me do so many at a time. If you are onn my "freaks" list you'll just have to add "mcgrew" to your "foes" list; I am not going to have "foes" in that account, either.

The mcgrew journals will be more rationally listed under the old mcgrew account. The first one is Under the rainbow.

So, I made a move on Charlie, and, well, let's just say that I'm not very good at seduction. By "not very good" I mean I suck at it badly. I doubt I've ever seduced a woman in my life; every one I had, they had their eye on me first. Maybe that's the way it works, I don't know.

She was gentle in her rejection.

Well almost; there is Eye muss bee knew hear pretty much saying what I'm saying here (-1, redundant). As that account started out with neutral karma, having not been used since January 2000, and this account has excellent karma, nobody can accuse me of being a karma whore! I've never worried about karma before and I don't intend to start now.

I'll see you at the new; er, I mean "old" account!

And again, a big thank you to samzepus!

User Journal

Journal: J.K.Rowling wins $6750, and pound of flesh 17

Journal by NewYorkCountryLawyer
J.K. Rowling didn't make enough money on Harry Potter, so she had to make sure that the 'Harry Potter Lexicon' was shut down. After a trial in Manhattan in Warner Bros. v. RDR Books, she won, getting the judge to agree with her (and her friends at Warner Bros. Entertainment) that the 'Lexicon' did not qualify for fair use protection. In a 68-page decision (PDF) the judge concluded that the Lexicon did a little too much 'verbatim copying', competed with Ms. Rowling's planned encyclopedia, and might compete with her exploitation of songs and poems from the Harry Potter books, although she never made any such claim in presenting her evidence. The judge awarded her $6750, and granted her an injunction that would prevent the 'Lexicon' from seeing the light of day.
User Journal

Journal: U. Mich. student calls for prosecution of Safenet

Journal by NewYorkCountryLawyer
An anonymous University of Michigan student targeted by the RIAA as a 'John Doe', is asking for the RIAA's investigator, Safenet (formerly MediaSentry), to be prosecuted criminally for a pattern of felonies in Michigan. Known to Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth -- the agency regulating private investigators in that state -- only as 'Case Number 162983070', the student has pointed out that the law has been clear in Michigan for years that computer forensics activities of the type practiced by Safenet require an investigator's license. This follows the submissions by other 'John Does' establishing that Safenet's changing and inconsistent excuses fail to justify its conduct, and that Michigan's legislature and governor have backed the agency's position that an investigator's license was required.
Education

Journal: College Textbook Affordability Act 11

Journal by sm62704

I ran across an item in the local paper today that I think will interest young slashdotters who haven't yet finished with college. My US Senator, Dick Durbin, has authored the "College Textbook Affordability Act".

The paper says major provisions of the act were "included in the higher education reauthorization signed into law on Aug. 14."

The textbook provision doesn't take effect until July 1, 2010, creating a waiting period he said textbook publishers pushed hard to get. But he urged students, faculty and administrators to work now to minimize costs of needed books.

The law will require publishers to provide in writing to professors the price of books, and also information on other formats in which the material may be available. Publishers also will be required to offer for sale some products that are now bundled -- such as a book, workbook and computer disk -- separately.

"Imagine," Durbin said, "these are professors picking books that they don't have to pay for.
They're picking them for someone else to pay for, and I hope that they'll start putting themselves in the shoes of the students when they start thinking about that cost."

UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said "I've heard from students who ... have to avoid the courses that they need for their major because they can't afford the books that semester." Ashley Rook, 22, a Chicago native and political science graduate student who is president of the Student Government Association at UIS said "I've heard from students who avoid buying the books altogether because they simply can't afford them, so they try to get by in class" through borrowing and other means.

"It really diminishes the quality of their education," she said.

Chris Barron, spokesman for Dr. Steve Sauerberg of Willowbrook, Durbin's GOP opponent in the Nov. 4 election, belittled Durbin's press event.

"If this is what Senator Durbin, the second-ranking member of the United States Senate, is bragging about -- about getting legislation passed that will improve the situation (concerning) college textbooks in 2010, it speaks volumes about what he's actually been able (to accomplish) during his quarter century in Washington," Barron said.

Durbin is one of the few politicians I actually vote for, as opposed to holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two "weevils". He voted against bankrupcy deform, for instance (as did my other Senator, Barack Obama).

Once when I was in school, I had one class where I had to buy a book my professor authored. Some people really have gall!

Toys

Journal: The Rollercycle

Journal by sm62704

Springfield, home of Ward 2 alderman Gail Simpson, is a wierd town. Its newspaper has some wierd stories, like Man robbed of cold 12-pack of beer.

But there is a very geekworthy item in today's paper: 'Green' invention just needs attention.

A Springfield artist and inventor named Frank Pierce has come up with a contraption that looks like a cross between two bicycles and a pair of roller skates.

If you have spent much time on the north end of Springfield lately, you might have seen Pierce on his Rollercycle. Using the same leg motion as a skater uses, Pierce tools around the streets on wheels at speeds up to 20-25 miles an hour. He does attract attention.

"I almost cause accidents because people are looking," he says. "People want to know about it, where to buy it ...

"During the motorcycle races (at the state fairgrounds), I put them on and went past that tavern, Knuckleheads. The motorcycle riders were all out there watching. They started clapping at me, so I cruised up there. It got a lot of attention from them."

<snip>

Here's how it works: Riders strap a wheel onto each leg. In the current design, people slip into one of their shoes already attached. The next model will let them take their shoes with them when they're done.

The tires are 20-inch, high-performance models. That, Pierce says, gives his invention an advantage over rollerblades. His tires can roll over grass and brick streets.

With the tires strapped onto your legs, you simply skate. When you want to stop, press down on your heel and that engages the brakes. The stability of Pierce's invention is so good that users can stand motionless and not topple over.

There's more at the link, as well as a photo of Pierce wearing his invention.

I want a pair!

In other news, Vulcan illogically caught fire and burned.

backups: always in season, never out of style.

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