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Comment: If you like damaged blocks ... (Score 3, Interesting) 202

by oneiros27 (#47759559) Attached to: How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

Their 'rolling' method is going to damage the corners of the blocks, and the surface of the path it rolls on.

Now, it's possible that the blocks were finished on site, and so they could use this trick to move the blocks from the quary to the worksite ... but it shouldn't be used to move finished blocks into their final location.

(and then you've got to roll all of the logs back to the quary ... assuming they're strong enough to survive this process ... which probably isn't as much work as what's needed for moving the stones, but it cuts into your energy savings ... as does transporting larger stones so you can finish them once they're at the worksite)

Comment: Who decides what's 'blatant' ? (Score 4, Interesting) 112

by oneiros27 (#47751321) Attached to: Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"?

. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.

It took a lawsuit for Atari to kill KC Munchkin ... and even then they only won on appeal :

If KC Munchkin was a rip-off of Pac Man, then every first person shooter is a rip-off of Wolf 3D. (which might've been a rip-off of Space Simulation).

Don't get me wrong -- there needs to be something done about people making crappy games and tricking people into buying it (eg, The War Z), but once in a while, someone makes a *better* game that's similar to something that already exists (eg, Arkanoid vs. Break Out).

Comment: 'nothing to do with [your] job' (Score 2) 548

I've worked places where 1/2 the time was spent doing the 'other duties as assigned' ... and some of 'em really sucked. (paperwork ... ick)

Think about it -- an undergrad degree is about you willing to spend 4 potentially productive years to get a sheet of paper. (and in my case, that's all it was ... as they neglected to flag in their computer system that I had graduated, so 7 years later, when I needed a transcript, I had to spend many months and threaten to sue to get them to mark me as having graduated).

If you want to do only the things that you enjoy doing ... start your own business, and be successful enough that you can hire someone to do the stuff you don't want to do. And that doesn't require having a degree. The degree is just so that you have a sheet of paper from some group vouching that you have some minimal set of skills to be a productive employee.

Comment: 'weed out' classes (Score 3, Insightful) 548

I wasn't a comp-sci major, so I don't know how common they are in that field ... but in engineering, you typically have a freshman class that's referred to as the 'weed-out' class.

It's not supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be damned hard, so they can see who's got the fortitude to stick with it.

Not all of life is going to be a cakewalk -- there are going to be times when you really have to knuckle down and study, and it's often better to get it over with early on than spend 3 years towards the degree and then find out that you can't cut it.

Comment: not the battery door (Score 1) 96

by oneiros27 (#47712469) Attached to: Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

Mine's got a wireless charging pad in it.

Of course, it's running WebOS, which lets me set up security such that I can require confirmation before an app's allowed to use certain features (eg, GPS), rather than just giving it a blanket 'you're allowed to use GPS whenever you want to'.

The drawback is that I don't have nearly as many apps available to use, being that it's WebOS. (I still blame those horrible Palm Pre commercials with the stoned albino -- why they didn't bother showing that it supported multitasking and copy & paste way before iOS, I have no clue)

Comment: News websites vs. Aggregators vs. Blogs (Score 3, Insightful) 299

by oneiros27 (#47667489) Attached to: Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

disclaimer : I was an admin for

The problem as I see it is that news sites started adding the ability for user comments to try to make their websites more 'sticky'. They wanted people to keep coming back ... but the ones that do are the trolls.

Unless you've modeled your whole site around people commenting, and build up a community, you don't tend to get useful comments -- you either get trolls, people advertising 'work at home', or someone with a follow question about the article that no one every responds to. Once in a while you might get some actually useful information from the general public, the 'I was there' accounts and such ... but it's few and far between.

(note, I'm not commenting on how Fark handles things ... most of their measures were implemented after I left, and I only know some of it; my experience comes with managing other websites)

Allowing anonymous posting that immediately gets shown to the public is just plain stupid. It's begging for trolls. At least with accounts you can monitor the new users, as in most cases you either have the throw-away account (which might have been registered months ago, specifically for use later), or the person who's just constantly obnoxious.

If I ever set up another website, I'm going to the model of 'invitations' where you have to know someone already in the community to get an invite -- because then if we get someone being an ass, we can suspend their friends' accounts, too (giving them some external pressure to not be a dick), or prune the whole tree of accounts if that doesn't help.

So, anyway, my basic categories:

  • News websites : people go there for the new, original news.
  • Aggregators : people go there to participate in commentary about other things found on the internet, but the focus isn't on original content (slashdot, digg, etc.)
  • Blogs : personal journals, run by a person or small group, with commentary on whatever they feel like (includes people's facebooks pages, and sites like Jezebel)

There are some successful hybrids out there ... but if you're going to allow comments, you have to know how to handle them ... and I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to give the trolls info on how to bypass some of the more interesting systems I've seen.

Comment: Public libraries buy ebooks from Amazon (Score 1) 165

by oneiros27 (#47667367) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

There's actually been a bit of discussion among the library community -- most libraries who offer ebooks get them via Overdrive, which has some major ties (is owned by?) Amazon.

But most libraries have privacy policies, but there's now a third party that can track their citizen's reading habits. There's also complaints about how Amazon sends e-mails to people who have 'checked out' ebooks that tells them to buy the book when it's about to 'expire'.

See, for example, the comments from Librarian Black. (it's in video form, but she raises issues about state laws on keeping lending info private, and most library's policies of not endorsing companies). It's possible that it's changed; I refuse to check out ebooks from my local library, as it's using Overdrive.

Comment: commissioning & Phase E (Score 3, Informative) 143

by oneiros27 (#47664595) Attached to: NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

The launch of the spacecraft is effectively the start of 'Phase E' (operations) for the instruments ... but there's a lot of things that still have to happen:

  • They have to deploy any solar panels (unless it's got an RTG), and align with the sun
  • They have to check out the spacecraft health, to make sure that nothing shook loose during launch, and they can talk to it.
  • The spacecraft has to get to the right place. (which takes *years* for missions to the outer planets)
  • They test the instruments against a known source (calibration lamp or similar)
  • They deploy antenna or instrument booms, remove covers, etc.
  • They take real measurements (aka. "first light")
  • They may perform maneuvers (eg, take an image, roll the spacecraft over, take an image again ... or take an exposure whole rolling) for flat fielding (aka. "calibration")
  • They compare the results from the new sensor against other measurements to determine how (aka. "validation")

They refer to this whole period as "commissioning". They're not always run in order (eg, for the missions to the outer planets, which might take *years* to get to, they try to check on the health of the instruments before they get to the planet). For some instruments, it might take years to validate the data.

There's also typically a press conference with the "first release" of the data, after the first calibration is done, but that's more to do with scientists on the ground than the spacecraft itself.

disclaimer : I work for a NASA center, but I don't deal with spacecraft directly; I just manage the data after it's downlinked & processed.

Comment: It's been done. (teergrube) (Score 4, Informative) 100

by oneiros27 (#47663653) Attached to: Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait

There's even a term for this, teergrube.

An ISP that I worked for in the 1990s used to do this (, owned by Drew Curtis, of fame).

We had some code that would look for blatant e-mail harvesters, and would SLOWLY return random bogus e-mail addresses ... wait a couple seconds, spit out an address ... etc. The page at the top even had warnings that the page was completely bogus.

At first, all of the e-mail addresses were all in our domain (but not our real mail server), but I went and added some code that would look up the connecting IP's network (I think I used, and would also include '{abuse,postmaster}@(network)' and again for the network's upstream providers.

I can't remember if the bogus mail server was also the box that we had set up so that if *anything* tried touching it, it'd blackhole the connecting IP at our external router, if it was a teergrube itself.

Comment: ... when they want to (Score 1) 166

... and I've known some who just didn't want to.

Personally, when I worked at a university, I kept a shirt and tie hanging in my cubicle for when I had meetings. As I never wore jeans in, when given 5 min warning, I was prepared.

Unfortunately, one day, I was dealing with server problems with our team lead, and my (new) manager came in and insisted we had to go to a meeting. I said I needed to grab my shirt & tie, but he insisted we were already late.

It seems that the executive director (3 levels above my boss) had decided that we were going to have an 'introduce the different groups within the IT department to each other', and the chairs were set up as rings of concentric circles ... and all of the free chairs were in the middle ... so I'm wearing a t-shirt that says "some people are alive simply because it's illegal to kill them".

Then they started cracking down on the dress code. Of course, the memo from the executive director on this "interpretation of the dress code" included no logos, so the staff shirts were actually not compliant with his interpretation. It also said "shirt with a collar", without qualifying "dress collar" (so therefore, my crew-necked t-shirt was compliant). They also insisted on 'no large text', without defining a specific letter height. (I hung up my White Zombie "More Human than Human" shirt to show that the "some people..." shirt had medium-sized letters.)

I was later fired ... it had to go before the unemployment office as they claimed I quit , but refused to make a formal statement (where I could've then sued for libel ... of course, I likely also had a case for "constructive dismissal" anyway, as my project manager had been told to harrass me 'til I quit)

But ... as my job was all about problem solving, I found a number of ways to comply with the wording of the 'interpretation' of the dress code:

  • took the sleaves off of dress shirts. (not a good luck for me, as I'm rather hairy)
  • added 'A COLLAR' with an embroidery machine
  • borrowed a steel gorget from a friend in the SCA (along with the rest of the platemail)
  • bought a number of 'club shirts' (effectively, hawaiian shirts w/ comic book characters on 'em)
  • wore the same shirt for almost 5 weeks straight (2 weeks, 1 day gap, then almost 3 weeks without washing it, only febreeze)
  • obnoxious ties ... but that was a problem when crawling around the machine room (I was also a sysadmin)

If I had it to do all over again ... I'd have tried to find a priest's collar. Or a dickie. I mean, hell, I worked in a locked room -- it's not like anyone saw me except for when I went to meetings, lunch, or the bathroom.

So instead, I work at NASA ... about the only government agency (unless you're at HQ) that prefers you to *not* wear a tie (I was threatened with bodily harm by a small, 60+ year old woman if I continued wearing one to work). Unfortunately, a while back my employer got bought out by a military contractor, and they started pushing down dress codes on us ... so I've been trying to get a definition of exactly what a "graphical t-shirt" is. My co-workers all just ignore it, but I'm doing my best to point out what a pointless, stupid rule it is w/ ASCII art and stylized text.

Comment: command-click when submitting (Score 2) 278

by oneiros27 (#47656247) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

Always use command-click when submitting a form, or whatever the key combination is to create a new window or tab. (might be shift-click, or control-click ... or right click, and select from the menu)

I admit, this won't always work in the 'one page' applications built exclusively in JavaScript, but when it does, it means that the failure page is in a new window, and you can go back to copy & paste the content after you re-authenticate.

Some of the nastier JavaScript 'enhanced' forms will try to make callbacks as you're typing, and when THOSE time out, they redraw the screen and you lose everything ... but luckily, in the case of HR applications, most of those were written 10+ years ago and never updated.

Comment: Volunteer to be an Election Judge (Score 1) 190

Most elections rely on citizens who run the election who aren't government employees. I say 'volunteer', but most municipaliies will pay you for your time (including any training time).

I was a 'Chief Judge' for 4 years of my town, and actually had a lot of say in how the election was run -- based on complaints about previous elections, I ended up designing the ballots, having them printed, considered if it was worth getting mechanical voting machines as hand-me-down from the county (would've done it, if we had the storage space ... those things are HUGE), and other stuff that I would've expected there to have been specific rules for.

There are laws about how the election must be run, but the chief judge may have some latitute around how they actually run the election. If you're an election judge, and you find something in the laws that doesn't mesh with electronic voting, you might be able to get the whole thing halted.

As another option, volunteer to be a poll sitter for a candidate; if your area allows them, they're someone who sits in the polling area to observe that the election is being run correctly by the election judges. (and it's important to look into what your rights are as one; if they give you the right to examine the cast ballots, you can likely complain that there's no way to examine the electronic ballots, and get the whole election thrown out).

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.