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Journal: On Spam, Faith, and Bullshit

Last Monday we had a front page article asking about the "effectiveness" of ISP-level spam filters. I eventually responded with a rehash of my central thesis on slashdot, pointing out that spam is an economic problem and filters will never resolve it.

My comment was generally well received (as seen by the moderations applied to it), though clearly some people were confused by it. Note for example two anonymous applications of the standard form, neither of which showed good comprehension of my comment. Overall my comment fielded 13 replies, many of which seemed to struggle with my statement in one way or another.

However the one who really failed most dramatically was this comment claiming - based on nothing at all - that everything I said was completely wrong. I eventually challenged his faith in spam filters, which apparently caused him to take off the gloves and make it personal.

In fact, so personal, that he kept bringing the conversation back to himself. Eventually I got tired of trying to bring the discussion back to being about spam, and he apparently got tired of talking about himself.

Even for this crowd, that was an odd discussion. Something like 18 comments from him in ~5 days and possibly not a single fact across the lot of them.
User Journal

Journal: Obviously, this validates the conspiracy 18 18

Islamic State operative suspected in 2012 Benghazi attack killed in US airstrike

Because certainly they must have known that he had all those deleted emails from Hillary Clinton's email server - particularly the ones where she asked him to initiate the strike - on his person when he was killed in Iraq this week. Hence this airstrike was done only to bring about the coronation of Mrs. Clinton.

Am I getting the conspiracy about right this time? I haven't heard anything from the usual gang here to tell me what to think about this yet.

User Journal

Journal: Number Five 2 2

I just sent off for the fifth and, I hope, last pre-publication copy of Yesterday's Tomorrows. I was sure it would be finished a month ago, but there were problems printing it due to some of the illustrations being too high of a resolution. It took a month to get the fourth printed.

I can't decide whether or not to assign an ISBN to it, since the book may not be legal in all countries. What do you think? I only have three or four left, and a block of ten is $250. Should I use one? The only country besides the US that has bought my books was Great Britain, and very few there although the web site gets visits from all over the world.

I'm pretty sure I'll never sell a book in Australia, because they're crazy expensive down there; tariffs, probably.

Oh, if you want to read the copy of Huckleberry Finn at my site, better hurry because when I post Yesterday's Tomorrows I'll have to take the Twain book down to make space. It will be back up this fall when I renew my URL and upgrade my hosting level. When it's back up I'll have a version that's easy to read on a phone.

User Journal

Journal: $freaks++ 11 11

Relationship Change
sent by Slashdot Message System on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @12:05AM

hitchhacker (122525) has made you their foe.

At first I figured it was likely that this person foe'd me after I called out (slashdot heroes) Ron and Rand Paul as fascists. However this user posts so little it is hard to tell if they read that or not. I notice they do have Barbara on their foes list as well, which may have been the reason instead.

User Journal

Journal: I take that back, I guess we did gain something from Occupy 2 2

Back in 2011, I asked How Long Until OWS Gives Up With Nothing?

I figured they would eventually get pushed aside and things would go back to business as usual. Indeed, that has mostly happened - wall street still runs the show and tells Washington what to do while the rest of us get screwed.

However, it appears that not only did something come from the Occupy movement, but it is a tangible product that you can buy.
User Journal

Journal: The Kevlar Kandidate Prepares to Surprise Nobody 10 10

If you can make it through his 45 seconds without falling asleep you might hear him say:

âoeI gotta tell you, ladies and gentlemen, part of the reason why Iâ(TM)m even thinking about what Iâ(TM)m thinking about â" we havenâ(TM)t announced anything yet, wonâ(TM)t until after the end of June when our state budget is done â" I have yet to see anyone in the field or in the emerging field whoâ(TM)s done both.â

I will say though, that if somehow the "democrats" manage to nominate Bernie Sanders, it would be fantastic to watch the two square off. Unfortunately Bernie can't raise enough money to be taken seriously by those who have the power to select a candidate - and will eventually be assassinated by the media (in the same was they offed Howard Dean) - which will result in a subpar nominee being on the ballot.

On the plus side, the Kevlar Kandidate keeps packing his offices with people who worked for the Teflon Candidate. This suggests he has a low probability of actual success. Unfortunately, Wisconsin will still be stuck with him after that failure occurs.

User Journal

Journal: Dice Holdings Inc is now "DHI" 11 11

I'm surprised this wasn't on the front page. I noticed today in the bottom right corner

Slashdot is a DHI service.

And was left to wonder if the Slashdot parent company was bought out. Apparently they just changed their name for better branding. I'm sure this can only lead to good things for this site, right?

User Journal

Journal: A suggestion to mobile browser makers and the W3C 4 4

There are an awful lot of pages on my web site, and I've been busy making them all "mobile-friendly". Most of them are little or no problem making them look good on all platforms, but there are three that are especially problematic.

I jumped this hurdle (well, sort of stumbled past it) by making two of each of the pages with a link to the mobile page from the index.

Ideally, I could just check to see if it was a phone or not and redirect phones to the mobile page, but there's no way to make this 100% successful*. Each brand of phone has a different user agent, there are a lot of installable phone browsers. On top of that, is it an Android phone or an Android tablet? With the minimum typeface size and viewport set, those pages are fine on the PC version but the phone version looks like crap.

Apple should have thought of this when they made the first iPhone, and Google should have thought of this when developing Android. The answer is simple, but it can only be implimented by browser makers and perhaps the W3C.

From the beginning of the World Wide Web, browsers looked for index.html, the default front page in any directory. This worked fine before smart phones, but no longer.

Phone browsers should look first for mobile.html, and if it exists display that, and display index.html if it isn't there. Tablets and computers would behave as they always have.

It doesn't have to be mobile.html, it could be any name as long as everyone agreed that it was the standard, like they did with index.html.

Maintaining a web site would be much easier if they did this. What do you guys think?

* A reader tipped me to the Apache Mobile Filter. It looks promising, especially since my host uses Apache. I'm looking into it.

User Journal

Journal: Can Republicans keep clowns off the debate stage? 13 13

Bloomberg View says it is unlikely.

Still traumatized by the 2012 "dog-and-pony show," which he called an "embarrassment and ridiculous," Priebus has decreed that this time the circus can have only nine rings, I mean debates, compared with about two dozen in the 2012 cycle. Only media outlets Priebus can stomach will get the chance to broadcast one of them. The left-leaning MSNBC will be excluded and its parent, NBC, will have to share its one debate with Telemundo. Fox and CNBC have been granted debates along with CNN after it dropped plans for a Hillary docudrama.

...

Limiting the number of debates may or may not help. What Priebus really needs to do is limit the number of debaters. He publicly atoned for not doing it last time but so far he hasn't come up with a way to prevent another melee. He'll have to act fast to find a formula before the first debate in August in Ohio, sponsored by Fox.

...

Priebus saw the damage last time as the eventual winner, Mitt Romney, repeatedly found himself on stage with people who weren't going to win anything but frequent flyer miles but could still goad him into musing about "self-deportation." If Priebus doesn't come up with something, the eventual winner this time will be sharing a stage with Carson comparing the U.S. under President Barack Obama to Nazi Germany or the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo. But Carson is the only black candidate, and that matters to a party that recognizes it has a likability deficit with minorities.

Similarly, eliminating Fiorina would reignite the War on Women meme. Fiorina isn't as out there as Carson, but she has no hope of making a dent, given her credentials as a losing Senate candidate, who had previously been ousted as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard for a questionable merger and huge layoffs, a record that is likely to come up a lot.

And how can he nudge evangelical favorite Huckabee to the side? He wasn't a clown in 2008 but he, his party and his Fox audience have moved to the right since then. In his campaign manifesto, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy," and on the stump, the former governor dishes out opprobrium to a wasteland of miscreants. He assails the mainstream media, Jay-Z, the "ick factor" in gay relationships and gay adoption (because "children are not puppies"). And he has become a survivalist hawking quack medicine, even though, like the other former governor from Hope, he became rich after leaving office.

User Journal

Journal: Gun Fail of the week

Safe gun storage does not include leaving your loaded and unlocked weapon rolled up in the sheets of the bed where your two year old is playing .

The 2-year-old boy who used a family gun to accidentally shoot himself in the face on Thursday night was in stable but critical condition on Friday morning, according to Peoria police.

Detectives said the gun belongs to the boy's father, who was not home at the time. Preliminary investigation indicated that the gun was rolled up in sheets on the master bedroom bed.

And, as usual:

no criminal charges are pending at this time, police said.

User Journal

Journal: How to make "mobile-friendly" web pages 3 3

I finally got the full texts of Nobots and Mars, Ho! to display well on a phone. My thanks to Google for showing me how, even if the way they present the information is more like trial and error, but it's actually easy once you jump through all their hoops. I'll make it easy.

First, you need to make sure it will fit on a phone's screen. I've been preaching for years that it's stupid to use absolute values, except with images; if you don't tell the browser the image size and you are using style sheets, your visitors will be playing that annoying "click the link before it moves again" game.

Some of you folks who studied this in college should demand your tuition be refunded, because they obviously didn't teach this.

Giving tables, divs, and such absolute values almost assures that some of your visitors will have that incredibly annoying and unprofessional horizontal scroll (*cough* slashdot *cough*).

None of the elements (images, divs, etc) can be more than 320 pixels wide, and you need to tell the browser to make it fit on a screen. To do this, add this meta tag to your page's head:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

Next, you need to make sure the text is large enough to read without double tapping. The <p> tag does this:

<p {min-height: 16px}>

This needs to be placed after the <body> tag and before anything having to do with text.

To test it, just pull the page up on your phone. If it scrolls sideways, you need to work on it.

If you're worried about your Google pagerank, Google has a "mobile friendly test" here. If you flunk, well, when Google says "jump"...

My main index page fails their test. To make it pass the test I would have to ruin the desktop/tablet design. As it is now, the text is readably large on a phone but it has a sideways scroll, which is tiny if you hold the phone sideways, and I added a link at the very start of the page to a version that will pass Google's test, looks fine on a phone, not bad on a tablet but looks like excrement on a computer. The main index works fine on a tablet, since I've made it as "mobile-friendly" as possible.

I'd have it redirect if it saw Android or iOS, but it's been fifteen years since I've done that and I've forgotten how.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal: Arm the teachers? 6 6

We recently had a school shooting in Washington state where the (student) shooter was stopped after firing but before hurting anyone. He was indeed stopped by a teacher from that school.

Did the teacher draw a weapon and send lead flying down the hallway? No. The teacher tackled the boy to disarm him. The school principal also helped to hold down the student until police arrived.
User Journal

Journal: Sorry I haven't written...

I have two new stories nearly finished, but I've decided to see if I can sell first publication rights to a magazine. If everyone rejects them, I'll post them then. If one is accepted, it will likely be quite a while before I can post.

With three books in the works I've been really busy. Hell, I've been working harder since I retired than I did when I worked! I got the index pages to my three published books and the "coming soon" page for Yesterday's Tomorrows "mobile-friendly". I don't know why I'm bothering; almost nobody surfs in on a phone or from Google. But at any rate, I got the book Triplanetary and the first two chapters of Mars, Ho "mobile friendly" as well. The Time Machine is next; the epub versions of my books are better than the HTML versions, on a phone, anyway. Twain, Dickens, and God are going to be mobile-hostile for quite a while because of all the artwork in them.

I couldn't make the main index "mobile friendly" without making it look like crap on a computer screen, so I made a copy "mobile friendly", posted it as mobile.html and added a link from the main index.

Site stats say Google has spidered, so I tried to find Mars, Ho!" by googling on the phone. Nothing but Marsho Medical Group, Andy Weir's The Martian, and a facebook page for someone named Mars Ho. Googling "Mars, Ho! novel" did bring up Amazon's e'book copy halfway through the page.

"Mars, Ho! mcgrew" brought up Amazon's e'book first, followed by the mobile-hostile main index, THEN the actual Mars, Ho! index which IS "mobile friendly" (it passed their test). And I thought "mobile friendly" was supposed to raise your ranks? What's up, Google?

The second copy of Yesterday's Tomorrows came yesterday. I didn't expect until the day after tomorrow. I went through it twice yesterday and it's almost ready; there is still a little work before it's published, but it won't be long.

It's a really nice book, with stories by Isaac Asimov, John W Campbell, Murray Leinster, Frederik Pohl, Neil R Jones, Kurt Vonnegut, A. E. Van Vogt, Theodore Sturgeon, Poul Anderson, Phillip K Dick, Frank Herbert, James Blish, Lester del Rey, and Jerome Bixby. Covers of the magazines they appeared in are shown, with short biographies and photos of the authors. It's also well-illustrated with illustrations from the original magazines.

Random Scribblings: Junk I've littered the internet with for two decades will probably be next year.

Oh, how do you like my new shirt?

User Journal

Journal: Neglected Slashdot Feature: Message when friend posts JE 7 7

It seems that some people might not be familiar with this function, so I thought I'd mention it as I find it useful. Slashdot can send you a message when someone on your friends list posts a Journal Entry (JE). This feature is under "Message" in the "User Preferences" settings. If slashdot renders as oddly in your browser as it does in mine, you now get to User Preferences by clicking the icon that looks like a 6-toothed gear that should be near your name in a small panel on the front page. Then once that is open, find the "Messages" settings (in my case it is the last link on the right). Scroll about half-way down until you see Journal Entry by Friend. In there, you'll see several options
  • No Messages
  • E-Mail
  • Web
  • AIM
  • REST API

I find the Web option to be the most useful myself, by YMMV.

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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