Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Journal Journal: what do you think about so-called "security questions"? 3

My car ins. is thru State Farm. They've started asking for my mileage periodically, apparently to move away from a two-tier pricing system (regular (avg 12K/yr) or low-mileage (under 7500 mi I think)) to better-matched tiers. (Thankfully they're not yet quite as "Progressive" as to ask to put a device in my car that spies on my driving.)

I've haven't gotten around to making my password manager program (and I don't want to have to trust someone else's, and I am a programmer afterall so I shouldn't have to), so unimportant things like this get put on stickies, which invariably seem to be eaten by my desk like socks by my dryer.

This is no problem as I can just request that login credentials be e-mailed to the address they have on record, like Slashdot does. EXCEPT when they implement those stupid "security questions".

My take on them is that they're a huge security hole in an otherwise fairly secure (if you choose an obscure username and a strong password) system. They typically necessite answers in common words (if you want to be able to remember your answers, that is), and on topics that are susceptible to public records and social engineering techniques.

So I do what I think is the best I can do to mitigate this weakest link in all-too-common login schemes and fill these fields with random garbage characters.

So on State Farm's web site I find a # for "technical support". So I call asking for a password reset, and the lady asks me the same questions as the auto function for doing this on the web site. I explained why I'm incapable of recalling the answers to the security questions, and was told they couldn't help me without them.

Well what good is their so-called tech support dept then? If they're just monkeys reading scripts, and can only type things into the public web site like I can, then that's not "technical support".

I called technical support for their web site because I was locked out of my account. I'm still locked out of my account, because their technical support couldn't offer any actual technical support!

After that I found a comment/suggestion form, and typed in my contact info and the current problem and gave my background explano, and got:

Technical Error

We are unable to complete your request due to technical difficulty.

Please click on any navigation link at the top or you may return to State Farm homepage.

With an organization this technically inept, I don't even want to risk having an online account with them. Now I want to close it, and just do everything thru my agent (a system that's been working fine for around 20 years now).

p.s. I guess from now on I should alter my behavior slightly and type in and write down strong passwords (and record which question I "chose" (in case a given site ever changes the order of which one appears first/chosen by default in the dropdown)) for these fields.

p.p.s. Another consideration in using these fields as intended is that I don't esp. want to give away to companies (and their partnering companies?) answers to some of these kinda personal questions. If I were devious I would've tried to corner the market on security questions way back and urged web sites to outsource them to me like that Discus or whatever for web comments, and then build dossiers on people and sell to Google and other such bastards who only generally know about us by what we give away in our searches and emails.

The Matrix

Journal Journal: resemblance 3

This looks an awful lot like this to me. I don't see too many of them, but the neighbor across the street from my folks got one recently, and they park it in the driveway, mug outwards. It's disturbing.

(Okay, I was gonna end it there, but the plight of the guy who lives there really bothers me, and I think America is forgetting that there's tons of us facing that.)

I think it's his mom's car. This guy in his early 50's lives in a house he bought with his widowed mom, across the street from the house (actually they're all duplexes/attached homes) my folks downsized to when they retired. He apparently used to do technical support for some airline software, working off the computer in the office he set up in his garage, on the phone frequently, and traveling somewhat frequently. Presumably paying pretty well as he bought himself a Boxster. Then the economy tanked and he took a lesser job, presumably just for the meantime.

I had heard from my folks that he was in the running for some networking job in L.A., but apparently that never panned out, as he's been doing the same job since shortly after the beginning of the collapse. He became a cable guy, and I suppose now he'll be what I consider underemployed for the rest of his working life (which might or might not get him to financially retireable age).

His mom had told my folks that she told him to go back to school like I was doing at the time. But all anyone can do is make their best judgment and pick a path. Mine turned out to be the right one, so far at least, as I got back into my planned career. But I was out of work for a very, very long time, and I could've never found work in my profession again, that growing more likely the longer I was out of it. It was a huge gamble. Other considerations were that I had a sizable emergency fund and was under 45 at the time and could afford health insurance. (Kaiser sent me a notice just before I got hired and switched to my new company's group plan that my rates were going up a chunk due to turning 45.)

He might not have had much in savings, and prolly thought he needed to take something where he could get health ins. He also might've thought this would take a while to work itself out, whereas I foolishly assumed it would only be a few months and that what I had initially assumed was just an overreaction and irrational panic on everyone's part would dissipate.

Anyways, on his off days he would park his big company van in front of his place on the street. Right where my folks' tiny home's only front-facing window on the first floor looks out (their kitchen window). Mom cooks and dad does the dishes, and he got tired of looking at this big orange advertisement so asked his neighbor if he would park it on the side street instead (his neighbor has a corner lot). He told my dad to go to hell basically, that he comes home tired from his job (he used to climb poles to install cable TV, but then he finally got a transfer to a newer neighborhood with all underground stuff) and often there's no parking on that side and he doesn't effing want to hear about it.

So maybe his mom bought that thing with the terrible visage and faces it his way to join in! ;)

Role Playing (Games)

Journal Journal: daily life in the neighborhood 5

Every morning you walk out to your front lawn to pick up the newspaper. And every morning the neighbors on each side of you physically assault you.

For as long as you can remember, you've lived in a house with a particular set of neighbors on either side of you. And ever since you moved there, your neighbor to the right, let's call him Mr. Right, would give you a bloody nose.

In talking with him about it, he argued that it was justified to keep the neighborhood in order. Mr. Left OTOH took your side and thought that that was complete bullshit.

But some many years back Mr. Left had started accosting you as well. Every morning he'd slap you in the face, box your ears, and kick you in the shins. And he added things over time, like nipple twists and indian burns and wet willys, and then later added foot stompings and hair pulling and nose tweaking.

In talking with him about it, he argued that it was justified to keep the neighborhood in order. Mr. Right OTOH took your side and thought that that was complete bullshit.

So in summary, nowadays every morning you are assaulted in ten different ways.

Many of Mr. Left's assaults are kind of silly, but can be somewhat painful nonetheless.

Mr. Right's assault is definitely painful, and a big pain afterwards in that you have to spend some time stopping the bleeding each time.

So, which is worse to you? That depends on if you're more like Mr. Right or Mr. Left.

If you're more like Mr. Left, then:

1) Mr. Right is worse because it's more severe to you, and

2) It's actually far worse to you because you have an ingrained, noticeably skewed sense of proportion anyway.

If you're more like Mr. Right, then:

1) Mr. Left is worse to you because he comes at you with 9 times the assaults, and

2) It's actually far worse to you because he's actually continuing to add more and more assaults to the daily barrage, with no end in sight, and

0) You're wondering, in the first place, do you really even need to be assaulted that much, period, for there to be some minimal level of order maintained in the neighborhood.

Real Time Strategy (Games)

Journal Journal: the passing of a giant 7

Michael Clarke Duncan died today. Actor, celebrity bodyguard before that, and ditch digger before that.

Apparently he had a bad heart attack a month and a half ago, and while his GF 16 years his junior, Omarosa from The Donald's "The Apprentice", gave him CPR until paramedics arrived, it only extended his life a little bit to be lived out in an L.A. hospital until finally passing.

He wasn't a fat man, so it's prolly safe to assume that steroid usage was a contributing factor. He was 54.

I didn't first see him in "The Green Mile", but that's when I first took notice of him as an actor. Apparently he was in "Armageddon" and even one of the "Married with Children" episodes that I know I saw.

Being 6'5" and reportedly around 315 lbs, he was heeuge at the time. And not just from the camera angles in that movie.

I also remember him from:
The Whole Nine Yards - As Bruce Willis' assassin buddy (until the end, that is).
Planet of the Apes - As the seargent soldier ape or whatever.
The Scorpion King - Can't remember, except in a kick-ass fight scene with asshole (see his "Punked" episode) Dwayne Johnson.
The Slammin' Salmon - The manic restaurant owner in this "Waiting..." ripoff.

Other movies I saw that I don't remember him in:
Daredevil - Ben Affleck becomes a superhero.
Sin City - Mickey Rourke in a dark, comic book adaptation.

Already released movies I haven't seen that he's in that I want to see:
The Island - Dystopian future tale.

Stuff he's been in that I don't ever want to see:
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - I don't like Will Ferrell.
A Night at the Roxbury - I hate that other SNL guy, the monkey-boy, even more.
Friday - I can't stand Chris Tucker ever since "The Fifth Element".

Note that for actors, it is their on-screen persona that I like if they're a fave of mine, not necessarily the kind of person they really are. For example apparently he went vegetarian in 2009 and began partnering with PETA to do anti- meat consumption messages. It prolly didn't help his health any to suddenly deprive his body of muscle-replenishing protein.

p.s. I also saw him on the periodically Sandra Bullock produced (and occasionally appearing in) George Lopez TV sitcom, as a wise-cracking dentist.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Thanks 5

Thanks to whoever burned five.

User Journal

Journal Journal: You get that many mod points 6

Wow, you get so many mod points, you feel the need to blast all 10 at me? I'm no longer the most prolific poster on slashdot, why do you bother?


Journal Journal: a new strain 21

[From this afternoon, when I didn't have access to my saved link for the older JE creation interface here.]

I'm sitting here with my netbook in my recliner, in front of the tube with the volume muted. I was watching it for some news and then eventually muted it to go on the net, but to occasionally look up and see if FNC was covering anything interesting (usually not).

From the headline above the ticker at the bottom they were playing some of BHO's reaction to the GOP convention, quoting him as saying that Mitt only offered no new ideas and only old ideas of the past.

I watched for a minute and saw serious teleprompter reciting, but with an instance of that characteristic occasional interrupting of it by his snickering.

I have two categories of problems with the Left, in general. The first is that your ideas -- what you want for mankind -- are evil. But what is also just as evil is your tactics. You could be honest and earnest with people and not be evil in this second way, and just be evil in the "what" that you're pushing. But that hasn't worked for you guys, at least in America's history, so you adopt evil in the "how" as well (which is working, fabulously, if much too slowly for most of you).

So BHO publicly states that his opponents' are ideas of the past. This is true, of course. Both sides' ideas are from long ago. In fact, thinking about the history of man, it sure seems like the philosophy of authoritarian collectivism has been around a lot longer than that of libertarian individualism.

BHO is not a dumb man. He knows both sides' ideas are old ideas from the past, just as you and I know this. But the Left's tactics mostly boil down to "fooling the dummies", and that's what's going on here. He's of course trying to make the dummies, of which there is an asston in America, believe thru implication that it is only the Right's ideas that are from the past. (With the further implication that "from the past" is even a bad thing.)

So BHO is hugely despicable in both of the usual ways that all of the rest of you are, save the few here that are a bit clueless or a bit crazy or both. But he takes it one step further.

He's like the guy I occasionally played chess with in college, who was so much better at it than me/had tremendous advantage over me in that game, if he actually would've outwardly laughed as he enjoyed his advantage and how well the tricks he could play on me worked.

Only BHO is laughing in the face of the Right, for how well his trickery works on the dummies. Because he knows that both the Right and the (non-nomimal*) Left know it's crap, but the dummies don't, and furthermore the dummies don't even pick up on that tell (and in fact actually find it endearing!).

Most Lefties are dead serious about their religion, and I can appreciate that, independent of its evilness. For example I imagine someone like Hillary (who'll prolly resign from Sec of State shortly after BHO's re-election, and be the Dem's nominee for prez next time) would only stab you (metaphorically) with the knife multiple times because she just wants you (i.e. your political philosophy) dead.

But that's old-school, and BHO is of the newer, extra-sick variety of Leftist. He seems to want to stab and pull the knife out and then pause for a reaction of pain, and enjoy the moment before stabbing again. I see a little bit of that here, too, where most of you guys are just fighting for your side, but a few just write things to be cruel; where you know the deception won't work in that case, but you pile it on thick and savor the moment of just trying to be mean.

Unfortunately as evil grows stronger in the world and you guys find yourselves winning more and more, esp. where previously a given ploy would've never worked, your astoundment at how successful it's going and the confidence that'll bring will prolly turn more of you guys into effectively sporting the patented BHO smug grin, that can be seen between sections of serious-face and those momentary snickers when he's just laughing his ass off inside.

*My "nominal Left" is the mushy middle of the American electorate; those who haven't educated themselves about Marxism and made a conscious decision and said yep that's definitely for me, but those who've just been slid into it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: APK stuff 1

Microsoft's Hosts file changes in Windows 8 generated a predictable discussion about, and then by, APK, but this discussion caught my eye and I thought was worth raising in a "Mind boggled" way.

The pertinent points:

- APK made a claim about his code that resulted in someone calculating that it was taking about 4 million CPU cycles, or up to 16 million instructions, to process each HOSTS file entry.
- In the ensuing discussion, APK said that his algorithm processes each entry multiple times. He also claims that a slightly optimization to his method would result in the algorithm becoming 98% accurate.
- He also claims, if I understand it correctly, that his code actually turns off the Windows process scheduler - by apparently giving this batch processing code a "realtime" priority - while it runs, for extra speed.
- The reason it takes 4-16 million cycles per record? Apparently, again quoting APK, this is because there's string processing involved with 11 string operations on each record.

Now, to be clear, we're talking about a program whose job is apparently to generate a hosts file from a list of hostnames, deduping and doing other minor clean-up operations on the list, and writing it all out with "" on the front of each hostname. For the deduping, apparently APK's using a sort - and he denies using a bubblesort, so I guess that's something. Me, I'd use a hash table, but what do I know?

I'm not trying to get at APK, but is anyone else having a WTF moment based upon the above description?


Journal Journal: Example of Leftie consistency #3,409 20

From the discussion under the topic "White House Pulls Down TSA Petition":

* On throwing Obama out: Don't bother because all politicians are owned by corporate interests anyways so they're all the same.
* On putting Romney in: OMG he would be far, FAR worse!!!

So they're the same, except one is much more same than the other. Understand?

User Journal

Journal Journal: I swear Austrian economists are the most stupid on earth 2

(Just to be clear: by Austrian, I'm talking about the school. It's possible that economists who live near Germany are also stupid, but that's not what I'm talking about.)

From what I can see, the logic is:

1. Follow a theory to its logical conclusion. Eg. "All government actions are bad + "socialist" (ie "government does things") governments provide healthcare" -> "Nobody has access to healthcare in socialist countries", "No healthcare -> people die early", "If people die early, there are no old people!"

2. Assert logical conclusion as fact, without checking. "Yeah, well of course Britain doesn't have a pension problem, everyone dies before the age of 30 in that country!"

3. When others assert "WTF", come up with logical process rather than facts. "Uh, hello. Britain has socialist healthcare! Nobody in Britain can possibly live long enough to reach the age of 30, given they all die of preventable diseases!"

4. Simply ignore statements to the contrary. "No, Britain's socialist healthcare system means everyone dies before the age of 30. And Keynesianism is totally discredited."


Journal Journal: it's a sad day for Slashdotters 7

Natalie Portman is officially off the market now; the chances of her being naked and petrified and covered in hot grits for you went from infitesimal to nil this weekend. All you have left now is imagining a beowulf cluster of goatses in Soviet Russia. This.

Lord of the Rings

Journal Journal: [Beloved] A Pretty Song (redux) 2

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

Which is the only way to love, isn't it?
This isn't a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.

Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.

And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song.
And I say to my heart: rave on.

-- Mary Oliver

Journal Journal: quite a career 3

Scouring the listings, planning my loser's evening, it looks like it's Will Smith nite on TNT tonite. The thought popped into my head, has he ever been in a bad movie. I only remember seeing him in great ones. And not just the action ones.

From looking at his filmography, I classify them thusly:

Great Action Movies
* Hancock
* I Am Legend
* I, Robot
* Men in Black II
* Wild Wild West
* Enemy of the State
* Men in Black
* Independence Day

Good-to-Great Comedy/Drama
* Hitch

You should remember what all of the above are just from their names.

Great Dramas
* Seven Pounds - Where he fakes being an IRS agent.
* The Pursuit of Happyness - Where he's a single father.

All of the above highly recommended by yours truly.

I Hate Martin Lawrence (so I won't see these)
* Bad Boys II
* Bad Boys - No movie of this name could be as good as the one from the '80's with Sean Penn (before I hated him too!) and Esai Morales.

Haven't Seen/Can't Classify
* Men in Black 3 - Might be okay to just wait for on TV. For sequels/prequels, I'm generally okay with a follow-up along the same lines, but after that I'm pretty bored with the premise.
* Ali - I don't have much interest in biographies. Is there anything to this beyond that aspect?
* The Legend of Bagger Vance - Where he's some mystical golf caddy I guess. I do like a good supernatural/life-lesson movie like Mr. Destiny (James Belushi) and The Family Man (Nick Cage and the exquisite Tea Leoni); is it something like that?

Early Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Era (didn't know he had movie roles then)
* Six Degrees of Separation - Lower economic class gay Black con artist rips off upper crusties and makes them reconsider their worldviews or something.
* Made in America - Looks to be a mindless racial comedy/artificial insemination gone awry with Whoopi Goldberg ending up with Ted Danson's sperm I guess.
* Where the Day Takes You - Teenage runaways try to survive on the streets of L.A./The Outsiders set in Los Angeles maybe.

Yeah, not really interested at all in those.

Future/Rumored Movies
* I, Robot 2 - Prolly.
* Bad Boys 3 - Nope.
* Hancock 2 - Maybe; dunno how much more can be done with this.
* Winter's Tale - "A fantasy story set in 19th Century and present-day Manhattan and revolves around a thief, a dying girl, and a flying white horse." Sounds a little convoluted at this point.
* After Earth - "After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet that was evacuated by humans 1,000 years earlier." An M. Night tale. Should be good.

p.s. That slap/pat was very measured and called-for.

User Journal

Journal Journal: body image issues 6

First, some straight talk.

Women, you look like hell after your 30's. Sorry, but it's prolly biological. Men are visual creatures and Momma Nature doesn't want you having babies later.

And if you get work done on you, you look even worse. (And this goes for at any age, BTW. Both genders, too; "hair restoration" always looks horribly unnatural.)

I don't know what to tell you. An older coworker once said that she found bald men sexy. She is wrong about that, of course. What it really is is that she finds sexy men who are bald to be sexy.

Older women, don't get work done. Wrinkles are sexy. But only on certain kinds of women. Either you can pull off aging gracefully or you can't, but butchering your face always only makes it much, much worse.

The good news for you ladies is, as you get older you care less about your looks. For men, however:

As men and women reach older age, body image takes on a different meaning. [...] Women are reported to benefit from the ageing process, becoming more satisfied with their images, while men begin to develop more insecurities and issues. Women reach a certain stage where they are no longer subject to the social pressures that heavily emphasize the importance of appearance. Men from the same studies are reported as becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their physical appearance as they age.


More men worry about their body shape and appearance â" beer bellies, "man boobs" or going bald â" than women do about how they look, according to research.

So much for the "men look more 'distinguished' as they age" bullshit. We look like hell too. My body's going places I never dreamed of. (But then I'm also not one of the sexy ones.)

It looks like historically in Western culture women have been faced with body type comparisons for longer than men have. And because of biology women have it tougher in the first half of life. (Altho nowadays young men are apparently feeling a lot of such pressure.)

But apparently women tend to mentally leave that rat race behind, whereas older men want to hang on to their virile youth. Or at least are not as comfortable with accepting that it's slipping away.

So, onto my body.

I turn 46 this year. At the height of my unemployment depression I also peaked in lifetime weight, of 204 (I'm 5'7" and small-boned, BTW), but today I weigh 176 (thru no fault of my own or any exercise at all, but some kind of stomach and/or heart problem), so for example my face is a lot less fat that I had looked most of my post-college life so far.

I'm glad that I'm out of the 32-33 BMI range (30 and up is "obese") and in the 27-28 range (below 25 is "normal" (for which I'd have to get into the 150's!)). And I saw the study that you live longer if you'll a little high on the BMI. But I don't like the distribution/my new composition.

The last time I actually tried to lose weight, documented in JE's here several years ago, I got down to 182.5, and my stomach was noticeably slimmer then. Now, I don't know what's going on.

My cheeks are less fat. I lost one of my chins so now I'm down to only a double. My love handles have remarkably shrunk, down to practically nothing.

Now the downsides: My butt has shrunk. Seriously, every chair now is rock hard to me, and I sit for a living. Right now I'm sitting on a kitchen chair cushion stacked atop a bed pillow. And it's compressed over the last 2-3 years to rock hard. At work the last of the cushion of my chair gave up the ghost and I've been sitting on a bleacher cushion, until I could make time to get some kind of permanent replacement, but that's stopping working for me, so I gotta expedite this.

What I'm left with is two things: I've got a ring of fat across my chest and under my arms. Which is supposedly a bad place to be storing fat, up near your heart. So I've got fatty sagging man boobs, and my arms don't lie naturally down my sides, with blubber getting squeezed out front and back.

And I've got a huge pot belly. I don't even drink beer. I don't eat a lot; I've lost all my weight by simply cutting back on portion sizes. I haven't even noticeably lost muscle mass, but definitely all the hardness in them.

So what does this mean? Besides looking like a dork, my pants fall down when I'm standing/walking, and are too tight when I'm sitting. I've got no hips or butt to hold them up, but a big gut to squeeze out when I sit.

So nothing really fits me anymore. For work khakis I left the Dockers brand when I found some nifty Hagar's that have a hidden dual waist material setup that can retract and extend about 2 inches out of an extra faux belt loop or something on each side, that helps me a lot. But then my roomy Lee jeans that I had to switch to from the young man's 501's some years ago hang ridiculously low when I walk, and when I sit I really want to unbutton them.

It's pathetic. I won't even get into hair issues. But my body shape is starting to show signs of aging, and I don't like it one bit, nosiree.


Journal Journal: new fallacy 10

It is claimed that there is a certain kind of logical fallacy, dubbed "No true Scotsman". But the logical fallacy is only in its ever being applied, what I hereby officially dub as the "the 'No true Scotsman' logical fallacy applies here" logical fallacy. Or the TNTSLFAH fallacy, for short.

As a general, overall good rule, those who have not progressed to even intermediate reasoning skills should definitely not be trying to wield logical fallacy application. Here, dear reader, is a comprehensive, one-question test for you to see where you fall/il:

1. Bill Dog wrote that for NTS, "the logical fallacy is only in its ever being applied". What he means here is:
A. NTS is strictly absolutely never applicable.
B. NTS is, in the vast majority of times, inapplicable.
C. NTS is always applicable.
D. Monkeys are funny.

There, now score yourself; if you answered:
C: You have the reading comprehension of a Slashdotter.
D: You're a walking argument against the legalization of drugs.
A: You have the reasoning skills of a Slashdotter.
B: Congratulations, you're at the least a halfway-intelligent human being. (You rare specimen, you!)

Wikipedia, the ultimate authority on everything, speaketh amongst thusly on NTS:

When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim,

I like the dramatic "faced with". But it never applies. For example, if someone says "Strictly speaking, I am literally saying that *ALL* Mexicans love to eat beans", then certainly the presence of a single counterexample of that would be jarring for the person. However, no one says that (or esp. even means that :). Everyone instead says "Mexicans love to eat beans". In this case, having an encounter with an occasional stray Mexican who does not love to eat beans is no trauma a'tall.

So in fact, it is the person who actually thinks NTS applies to a given scenario who's committed the error in reasoning. As in, not reasoning properly about human communication.

There is at least one other notable additional dimension in which NTS can be misapplied. As in, you can be a semi-normal human being and have grasped the natural, intended meaning just fine, but still err in thinking that NTS applies, thusly:

No true Scotsman is [...] an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.

Therefore, NTS is only applicable to "unreasoned assertions". And not, for example, "extensively observed assertions". So take someone who's been surrounded by Mexicans all his life, and has been really paying close attention to them for the last couple of decades. His uttering "Mexicans love to eat beans" is not an assertion based on reason. He didn't say "Yada yada yada, ergo Mexicans love to eat beans". So application of NTS here would be misapplication, and a demonstration of bad reasoning in having thought otherwise.

Slashdot Top Deals

Help stamp out Mickey-Mouse computer interfaces -- Menus are for Restaurants!