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Comment: Re:AT&T Autopay - Ha! (Score 1) 234

So, there was no billing error here. The guy actually had his modem making long-distance calls for inordinate amounts of time. Doesn't seem like an AT&T error. Though it definitely sucks for the old man/woman!

No billing error? The entire billing system sucks balls at the largest possible frame.

There should be a legislative directive that all such usage-based billing plans provide an option for the end user to set hard spending caps, which are automatically enforced by the service provider.

Show me a corporation that doesn't—at least attempt—to enact hard spending caps enforced by automatic systems wherever and whenever possible. Heads roll in the gutters when a corporation loses $100 million because some trading desk manages to go rogue with respect to set trading limits. (By the Finnish system of traffic fines, a $100 million loss for AT&T is about on par with some old geezer tabbed for $25,000.)

End users are, of course, purposefully disadvantaged to have to police their own usage by manual vigilance, because everyone knows this is a lucrative fail mode for AT&T's revenue piracy service.

That this whole thing sucks balls right down to the bag root is the least possible diagnosis.

Comment: Ubuntu's sins of commission (Score 2) 177

by epine (#49583087) Attached to: When Enthusiasm For Free Software Turns Ugly

Canonical earned their black eye in spades by giving no advance guidance to their dual-head power users while knowingly ruining the dual head experience in the service of a reconceived user interface which might or might not be all for the best in the long run.

It was their blasted refusal to honestly inform their dual head power users that the dual head power user experience would be unavailable in Ubuntu for several releases so that we could plan accordingly that caused me to set the Canonical bit in my bozo register.

Comment: Re:280km (Score 1) 189

by JanneM (#49523715) Attached to: Maglev Train Exceeds 600km/h For World Record

For the Osaka-Tokyo route, the Shinkansen made the difference between an overnight business trip or return the same day. That made it insanely popular. With the new train, you can not just make a set of meetings; you can do a full days work and still get back the same day (even more so for Nagoya of course).

Many people here get stationed at offices in other cities for months or years, and leave their families behind. They effectively do a weekly commute, and come home only on weekends. For a lot of people this would let them get home more often or even stay home and make this a daily commute. Expensive, but on the other hand the company doesn't have to pay for a second short-term apartment and the other costs of two households.

Comment: discussion way too premature (Score 3, Interesting) 58

by epine (#49507643) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

This is the most substantive bit I was able to find, a forum post by David Jian Wu from eariler today:

Thanks for the questions!

I can't even find a discussion of the winning games by someone who knows the game and its strategic evolution.

Interesting, but at present there's nothing much to discuss here.

Comment: new age germophobes (Score 2) 186

by epine (#49487179) Attached to: How Many Hoaxes Are On Wikipedia? No One Knows

This is the same old elitist bullshit being smuggled out through the back door.

Fundamentally, there are a lot of people out there who don't want Wikipedia to be part of the answer. Whatever standard Wikipedia achieves, the bar is raised at least a hook higher.

I was brought up with "Gerry Germ". This is how insanity was introduced into my grade three class back in the 1970s.

Some of my unfortunate classmates probably grew up to become the adults who try to spray the entire world with 99.9% germicidal carcinogens. Aside from the shocking innumeracy (readily vaccinated in just five inquisitive minutes wielding your dad's miraculous eight-digit calculator, during which one discovers the small difference between zero point zero repeating and 0.001 as multiplicands), there are about six other layers of illiteracy here. We have subsequently learned that our own bodies are outnumbered 10 to 1 (if you count cells) or 100 to 1 (if you count genes) by our personal Gerry Germ symbiotes.

Nevertheless, we continue to hold wacky beliefs about our standards of personal hygiene, and absolutely ludicrous beliefs about what we ingest or acquire from the external environment. Yet somehow we live.

The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of information we encounter in daily living has never been up to to the germ-free standards of my grade three Gerry Germ indoctrination.

Common sense is the human ability to walk past something yummy that's being lying on the sidewalk for an hour that you just stepping on, and not licking it off the bottom of your shoe.

Yet with information about the world, the idea is that the ignorant and uniformed are just going to stick any piece of information into their mouth that they pass by, so all information in the world needs to be currated by food-safety professionals (aka all the authors dripping with expertise and credentials who might have succeeded in authoring Nupedia before the heat-death of the local universe).

Fundamentally the reason that this cloaked nonsense in Wikipedia is lying there undetected is that it's almost entirely immaterial. If a person holds a transient belief in the Australian god Poopoocaca, how much does that affect this year's RRSP contribution level? About 0.00000001 times as much as the five minutes with dad's expensive 8-digit calculator they unfortunately bypassed as a young child.

And you know what? The lunacies these people believe make 99.9% of the content on Wikipedia look like an oasis of sanity by comparison.

Wikipedia needs to bump that up to 99.99% exactly as badly as the germicidal soap in my bathroom needs to bump itself up to a 99.99% bacterial kill rate. As if the human condition is nothing but 1000 lb sand-dampened power supplies with a -100 dB bullshit noise floor at 60 Hz.

Now if I can just find an industrial-strength soap (so far recognized as safe) to rid me tout sweet of all the preening assholes from which this elitist crap originates in the first place, I might start clicking the "buy" button.

Comment: Re:Wasn't quite the revolution ... (Score 1) 134

by JanneM (#49481743) Attached to: Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway

I appreciate your idea, but I don't think it's that good a fit for the Segway.

People that can't walk a mile most likely needs their own assistance tech - a walker, a wheelchair - on the bus or train as well. And people that don't have time to walk a mile or two won't be helped by a thing that barely moves above walking speed. A bicycle rental spot (or free city bikes) would be more helpful and less costly.

Comment: bow tie and nice NIST endorsement (Score 1) 212

Key fragments? Can we have that with a bow tie and a nice NIST endorsement?

When you break your word, you break something that can not be mended.

Even if you wear the regal black cloak of the Central Malfeasance Agency, when you're found out, it can and will be held against you.

Ho hum. This is clipper chip redux.

In 1997, a group of leading cryptographers published a paper, "The Risks of Key Recovery, Key Escrow, and Trusted Third-Party Encryption," analyzing the architectural vulnerabilities of implementing key escrow systems in general, including but not limited to the Clipper Chip Skipjack protocol. The technical flaws described in this paper were instrumental in the demise of the Clipper chip as a public policy option.
The U.S. government continued to press for key escrow by offering incentives to manufacturers, allowing more relaxed export controls if key escrow were part of cryptographic software that was exported.

Cooperation requires either trust or truncheons. No worries for the NSA. It'll soon enough be classified as a state-secret crime against humanity to bleat when beaten, if it isn't already.

Comment: proto conlang bowling shoe (Score 1) 626

The layout of paths will seem right and comfortable only when it is compatible with the process of walking. And the process of walking is far more subtle than one might imagine.

More at 120 Paths and Goals.

This is basically the famous "make the buildings first, then add the paths later" meme, as told by the architect Christopher Alexander.

A human language must comfortably accommodate the natural cognitive arcs of the human thought process. Ideally, it should fit habits of thought as comfortably as a hand fits a well oiled leather baseball glove, one that your forefather gave to his son (or your foremother gave to her daughter), stretching in an unbroken chain all the way back to human prehistory.

What we need, then, is a good proto conlang that we can throw into a cultural stew pot to steep for a thousand years, accommodating to the human mind however it will. If by then it still seems rough, throw it back into the pot for another thousand years.

The figure of merit, therefore, for a proto conlang is that it accommodates its future evolution gracefully, blooming like a rose quite unexpectedly, making everyone blush (2000 years from now) over how we ever got along without it.

Instead, what most people busy themselves inventing is a proto conlang bowling shoe, a neat (but sweaty) communal object which fits anyone who happens to drop by to drop some pins, with no possibly confusion about which foot goes into which shoe, or how the lacing pattern goes if one the laces should happen to break—pouring over in their righteous zeal the following menu (among others) to divine the one true ineluctable escape from all things arbitrary:

43 Different Ways To Lace Shoes

What English already does: Riding Boot Lacing

This method is for riding boots (motorbike or equestrian) whose sides are joined at the top and loosen near the ankle. The laces zig-zag from both ends and are tied in the middle.

English knows from feet on the ground where the pressure goes.

What weedy conlingers tend to moot: Hidden Knot Lacing

By hiding the knot underneath, the result is an uninterrupted series of straight "bars" that looks particularly distinctive on dress shoes or sneakers alike.

Conglingers know from eyes in the face that irregular knots and loose ends of human cognition are better spoked than spoken.

Comment: Social Science (Score 1) 892

If your favorite social theory is being tested on the masses, when things good, it is because of your social theory and when things go bad they are going as good as they could have gone in all possible worlds.

That's why those who object to your social theory don't need to be consulted for their consent prior to your experiment being run on them. Indeed, if they strenuously object (say, because an aspect of your social theory is that "sexual pressure ushers, guides or shepherds the process of sexual awakening" in your prison system), their extremism is a clear and present danger to the stability of society and it is only reasonable to preemptively treat their psychological disorder, with or without their consent.

If it wasn't for Newton, we wouldn't have to eat bruised apples.