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Comment: SparkleLink vs. SufferLink (Score 1) 86

by foreverdisillusioned (#49553993) Attached to: Random Generator Parodies Vapid Startup Websites

They may be onto something there.

I think the crosshairs graphic makes this one work:

This is so fucking stupid, but I can't stop:

Comment: Half-blind and proud! (Score 1) 279

I'm not sure what's up with the trend of people proudly proclaiming they can't notice the difference between different resolutions. Um, good for you? Me, I could see individual pixels in my old 15 inch 1024x768 monitor from 2.5 feet away. I'm not a freak of nature. I have slightly worse than 20/20 vision. But going from 480i to 1080i (CRT in both cases) with the same 34" screen size and the same 6 foot (more or less) viewing distance was a earthshaking difference noticeable not just to me, but to almost everyone who saw it.

Hell, I remember when the argument was that HD sucks (particularly for porn, but also in general) because you could easily see skin imperfections, the cheap props used in Star Trek, etc. Too much detail was supposedly ruining things... but now the argument is the exact opposite? And some people have even started pulling pseudo-scientific charts out of their asses showing the supposed screen sizes and viewing distances at which different resolutions become indistinguishable (the first thing you notice is the proscribed viewing distances are completely insane, like 11+ feet for a modest screen size.)

My current theory about all of this is that the compression used in online streaming video has you all extremely confused. Or possibly it's because most LCD screens still tend to look weird and indescribably shitty compared to 1080i CRT or 1080p plasma. Or perhaps the upscaling algorithms have become too good--to claim that 4k or HD is a waste, you have to compare 480p native to 1080p native, not 1080p (480p upscaled) to 1080p native.

High bitrate 1080p at 34" should be appear as an instant and impressive improvement over high bitrate, non-upscaled 480p even at 10 feet.

Sitting six feet away from a 37" 1080p TV set to 720p in Windows (otherwise I can't even read the small text), I can watch a 480p video without feeling like I'm losing anything.

Please find an ophthalmologist before it's too late. That goes for everyone who modded this up, too.

Comment: Duress passworks work fine for unknown-unknowns (Score 2) 210

Duress passwords are fine for stuff that the adversary doesn't know about. If three letter agents bust in on you and they have network logs or other surveillance showing what you've been up to then no, the duress password is not going to get you anywhere.

On the other hand, if you had a laptop with some Tienanmen square videos on it that you wanted to bring to China, I think it's perfectly viable approach to simply load up the dummy container with videos of yourself doing a little soft S&M or something, just in case. Really, I would like to hear your explain why you think showing some slightly annoyed (but not suspicious of anything in particular) Chinese officers videos of tanks rolling around in Tienanmen would be safer and preferable to showing them your wife tying you to a bedpost. I would say that the latter approach is at least worth a shot.

Of course, it's usually better to go the extra mile and use headerless solutions in such a way that it would take someone with a fair bit of expertise to notice even the possibility of encrypted material, with no way to conclusively prove whether it's there or not. I mean, if the phrase "please enter your password" appears at any point, you have already done something extremely stupid and lazy. The criminal or cop who has just busted in and is holding the gun to your head almost certainly does not have the knowledge or tools necessary to realize that the device might not be fully decrypted.

If you're worried about getting "killed or worse" by an adversary who is going to first detain you for days while the device is subject to extensive forensic analysis then you're a terrorist and/or you plan on visiting some rather unpleasant countries and doing some fantastically stupid things.

Comment: Can someone explain to me why this is a thing? (Score 2) 252

by foreverdisillusioned (#49526815) Attached to: Twitter Rolls Out New Anti-Abuse Tools
I mean, I've no love for SJW-type whining identity politics (which is sadly what much of progressive politics has turned into), but what exactly are the stakes in the Gamergate debacle? Are gamers particularly worried that the industry is going to stop including sexy women and cliched plots to sell games? Because that's fucking stupid. The gaming industry will do that maybe 20 years after Hollywood stops.

So, I mean, are there any stakes at all here for the anti-SJW camp? Are there laws being debated in Congress? Are gamers being discriminated against? It's annoying to hear journalists pontificate about shit they don't understand, but that includes damn near anything they talk about. It's perhaps even worse to have to listen to a manufactured controversy, but still....

Why should we care? Let them troll away and then it all goes away once the journalists get bored with it. There are plenty of pro-egalitarian (i.e. anti-SJW) battles to be fought that have actual consequences, but this doesn't seem to be one of them.

Or am I really so old that I'm failing to realize that being a gamer really is a cultural identity and they really are being discriminated against?

Comment: Re:It's not surprising (Score 1) 129

by foreverdisillusioned (#49526545) Attached to: YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices
This kinda-sorta happened already with HDTV early adopters. I picked up a 1080i HD CRT from Goodwill a couple years ago for $20 that had only component in, no HDMI. Whoever paid full price for the thing must have been pretty pissed after HDMI and bluray came out and the only HD content they could show was a couple of over the air DTV channels.

Comment: Do No Evil (Score 1) 355

For me, they jumped the shark / violated their unofficial motto the day they declared war on the microSD card in their hardware. I could never get too riled about the morality of doing business in China or submitting to the will of three letter agencies here at home because unlike many people I was never under the illusion that they were some kind of activist organization. "Evil" was therefore obviously a reference to not fucking up their own products in an attempt to manipulate their customers into, say, using their cloud storage solution.

Also, I seem to be the only one who finds it extremely alarming that Google has devoted a lot of energy to replacing GPL pieces in Android with BSD-style licensed equivalents. This isn't a simple precautionary exercise or worries about "viral licenses". This certainly isn't about freedom. The moment AOSP projects threaten them (or become an inconvenience) they will simply change licenses and break backwards compatibility. Geeks will struggle mightily to make non-geeks care about this, but there will be no viable alternative in the marketplace, millions will be locked into Google's content ecosystem, and the OEMs (with the possible exception of Amazon) will obediently follow Google.

Comment: Re:what is Arimaa? (Score 1) 58

by foreverdisillusioned (#49514963) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa
That is quite interesting, but I think my point may stand. Remember, standard chess matches last for hours. How long can the phone maintain maximum power before having to throttle to keep itself from burning up? And even if heat isn't an issue and we assume it's plugged in, can it pull enough juice through a USB charger to maintain that power? (My Nexus 7 loses power faster than it charges while I'm playing a graphics intensive game.)

Also, I'm not sure why Deep Blue was rated in terms of FLOPs. I don't see how floating point operations are relevant to discrete problems like chess position analysis.

Comment: Re:what is Arimaa? (Score 1) 58

by foreverdisillusioned (#49512241) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

A decent smartphone will romp over grandmaster chess players.

Is this actually true? I'm aware of the recent grandmaster-in-the-bathroom-with-an-iPhone scandal but I had assumed the phone was tied to a desktop at home doing the analysis. My reasoning was thus: ARM processors aren't as powerful (hz for hz) as x86, the existing ARM-optimized chess codebase is presumably much smaller, and most importantly the processing power of smart phones is limited by both heat dissipation and battery life.

I would be surprised if a high-end smartphone in the world could out-compute a reasonably spec'ed desktop from the early 2000s (which was point at which computers began to rather consistently beat grandmasters.) The lack of CPU fan is the biggest limiting factor of all.

Comment: Re:what is Arimaa? (Score 2) 58

by foreverdisillusioned (#49508385) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

While difficult to test I suspect that if we restricted chess players to the same age and tenure profile of Arimaa players a machine would romp over the novice chess players (max experience 13 years, average perhaps 7).

You're a decade too late. Even a modestly budgeted machine will (if not intentionally underpowered) romp over master chess players.

I get what you're saying and I'm sure an arimaa grandmaster, if one existed, could beat that particular program. However, you're ignoring the other side of the coin. There have been orders of magnitude more effort expended on writing chess-playing software vs. arimaa-playing software.

Now should I bother to learn the game at all?

Go is much simpler and deeper (although computers are getting pretty good there, too.)

Arimaa isn't a bad game, but despite the claims of its creator I'm not convinced it's simpler than chess. Chess has a few idiosyncratic and tournament-specific rules (three move repetition, castling, double pawn move and the rare en passant capture, having to "checkmate" the king instead of simply capturing him, etc.), but if you ignore those for a moment... chess has straightforward capture, a static setup, and a single method of winning the game. The only thing you have to actually memorize are the 6 different piece movements, the unique rule about knight movement, the unique rule about pawn movement, and the promotion of pawns bit. That's pretty much it. All of the other rules in chess are there for historical reasons or to improve the pace of gameplay among experts--they don't drastically affect the flavor, tactics or depth of the game. If armiaa became a worldwide pastime played by millions, they would surely develop their own array of minor rule tweaks.

So, compare chess's fundamentals (ignoring the ) these are arimaa's fundamentals:

1. Moving one piece one square (plus pushing/pulling--see below) counts as one move. You make four moves per turn. Not bad. It's only slightly more complicated than "move one piece per turn", yet being able to split up a single turn among multiple pieces or pool it all into a single piece is a great way to add depth. (It's not unlike action points in Fallout.) And other than rabbits the pieces all move the same way--obviously, this is simpler than chess.

2. Piece interaction and capture is, um, involved. First, you have a nested hierarchy of pieces that must be memorized (yes, it's "easy" because it's easy to remember that an elephant is bigger than a horse but I don't think that makes it simpler than chess's "any piece can capture any other piece".) Second, there are four different ways to influence an enemy piece: you can pin, pull, push or blockade (blockades only exist in chess in the special case of pawns.) This influence can be used to maneuver an enemy piece over a special trap square, which is which kills the piece... unless there's a friendly piece nearby to save it.

There's a sort of intuitive, real world justification for what is going on ("you see, the horse is grabbing onto the cat's tail, and these four squares here with stickers on them are actually deep holes..."), but I'm not sure how you can call the actual game mechanics simple as compared to chess.

3. The victory condition is getting a rabbit to the other side of the board or killing all of the opponent's rabbits. Like pawns, they can't move backwards. Let's just consider for a moment a game of chess wherein the goal of "kill the king" (again, we're ignoring all of this checkmate nonsense that grew over the centuries) was changed to "kill all of the opponent's pawns". That this would make the game deeper, I don't doubt... but simpler?

Comment: Re:Maybe use helium (Score 1) 590

If you are talking, it is rather easy to notice a serious helium leak. If I were working in an area where helium asphyxiation was a risk, I would make it a point to sing out loud while I was doing it.

This technique doesn't work so well with argon or nitrogen. That was the only point I was trying to make there.

Comment: Re: Ten seconds? (Score 1) 590

Yes, I've already made that point. My question isn't about discomfort; it's about how the onset could be so fast. The only explanation I've seen so far is that your body actively expels O2 from your bloodstream while breathing an inert gas (vs. simply exhaling the contents of your lungs and then not inhaling), but I still have an extremely hard time seeing how this could lead to 10 seconds of consciousness *maximum* as TFS says.

Comment: Re:Ten seconds? (Score 1) 590

That's still limited by the amount of blood in contact with your lung tissues. 10 seconds (given as a maxmium!) is a really short amount of time. How can all of your blood deoxygenate so quickly?

I know from experience that it takes at least 4-5 seconds or so to choke someone out (this has nothing to do with breathing--this means cutting off the blood flow to the head by applying pressure to the sides of the neck.) Hell, supposedly it takes 5+ seconds for a guillotined head to lose consciousness. In the absence of hard and detailed data, I have a very hard time believing anoxia from inert gas would be only twice as long as near-instantaneous hypovolemic anoxia. I don't think our cardiopulmonary system is so efficient at expelling O2.

Comment: Re:Ten seconds? (Score 1) 590

Still, we used to hold our breath for sport as kids, sometimes mixing up it by requiring a complete exhalation first. Try it yourself; you should be able to hit 30 seconds even if you're out of shape. I'm not understanding how "less than ten seconds" (i.e. ten seconds as a maximum time, not a minimum) is realistic, especially given a convict who is consciously trying to conserve his oxygen supply.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. -- Publius Syrus