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Comment Re:Oldster? (Score 1) 387

An oldster is anyone older then roughly 30 (in the context of the article). People who can remember using 14.4 and/or slower modems, and playing things like LORD.

No, you mean rogue(6), whose magic word was Elbereth . My fingers have the movements in muscle memory. Something about 100,000 lines of C code written in vi does that to a kid. Or maybe the 10,000 games of rogue(6). Prolly both.

Earlier still was ADVENT, whose magic word was xyzzy . Whole 'nother country, that.

Comment Too many false assumptions (Score 1) 387

The posted article has too many false assumptions in it to be anything like reasonable. It's trying to establish a false dichotomy. I've been on the Internet since the early 80s -- essentially, all my computing life -- and certainly never resorted to silly BBS systems or AOL/Prodigy abominations. Bletch!

Sure, there were times I had to dial into a terminal server, but I still connected directly to a nice friendly BSD Unix system on the real Internet. The firstish of which was what became known as Yes, we had an ARPANET IMP. Pesky little thing it was, too.

What category then do I fall into? Neither of the two misleadingly presented ones from the original article, that's for certain. The question is: how many others were in my camp? Pretty obviously the kinderwriter of the article never thought of people like us.

Comment Tolkien was an avid F&SF reader (Score 1) 309

Elendil wrote:

Huh? Could you please tell us your evidence for this? I was under the impression (based on JRRT's letters and novels) that he wasn't too keen on technology and the so-called modern world. So I have some difficulty imagining him interested in a distant future filled with spaceships and robots.

Certainly. In Letter #294, Tolkien himself wrote:

I read quite a lot - or more truly, try to read many books (notably so-called Science Fiction and Fantasy). ... I enjoy the the S.F. of Isaac Asimov.

That's as straight-from-the-horse's-mouth as it gets.

Comment Re:Every time a bell rings (Score 1) 309

Avatar was about as sci-fi as Lord of the Rings which won the Oscar.

Say what? There was nothingThe Lord of the Rings, — at all.

Tolkien actually enjoyed hard sf, especially Asimov, but his roots were in Beowulf and the Eddas, not in H.G. Wells. It’s like comparing apples with aardvarks: not even in the same kingdom.

Tolkien’s work is fundamentally mythologic in scope, looking to the past and recreating a series of tales out of old myths and half-remembered memories. Science fiction is a completely different beast. It extrapolates possible futures by applying known principles to unknown possibilities, all the while keeping within the laws of nature as we understand them. Yes, both are story-telling, but that is as close as it gets.

Science and myth are truly about as far apart as you can get, so I cannot see how you could possibly make such an outlandish statement.

Comment Ubiquitous Spamvertising (Score 1) 662

Web sites without advertisements in the middle of the body text still exist, such as,, and even once you've maxed your karma for a while.

I never see any of these spamvertisements that people are referring to, no matter what my karma or status is on this or that site.

Mostly that's because I use privoxy, which does 99% of the adblocking I ever want. However, I do on rare occasion play the "Block Content" or even "Edit Site Preferences" games in Opera. I think of "Block Content" as something of a first-person-shooter video game to shoot down intrusive spamverts.

I am so allergic to spamvertising of all sorts that I really can't read generic stuff on the web using somebody else's browser setup without going pretty completely batshit. I've been known to cover the stupid jumping pictures with giant postits or a taped on piece of paper. I am no more capable of reading static text while something is juggling screaming cats right in front of my face than I am capable of reading a book while a wailing banshee blasts out my eardrums from 2" away.

It's like how people with Tivo report that when they're visiting someone else's home and see a TV running with commercials on it, their first thought is something like "Huh! That TV's broken." That's exactly how I react when I come across someone else looking at the web with all its spammy in-your-face attention-seeking whinings: that their browser must be broken or something.

Disabling moving GIFs and sound by default is really mandatory, and really probably plugins, too, unless you have some other mechanism to block them. I've even been known to turn off javascript on specific sites just so the dumb things stop moving around on me. Even tooltip popup balloons can be maddening: just shut up, get out of my face and my mind, and let me read in peace, damn it! I would never read a book or magazine that had a loud screaming baby built right into it, and it simply astounds me that anyone puts up with this sort of outrageous assault.

I truly think that without the the serene freedom from the otherwise relentless spamvertising that this privoxy+opera combo gives me, I'd've long ago gone medieval and probably completely postal on these rude assholes. It's criminally abusive what they try to do to us.

Nobody has the right to strap you in a seat with your eyelids sewn open so they can steamshovel their spamverts into you. We call that assault, and nobody but nobody should put up with it. It's like the insulting "can't fast-forward through ads" property on some DVDs and some players. Their rights stop long before they reach my mind: I am not their prisoner, so go find some other sheep to bugger.

Submission + - Open source for severe weather warnings?

Albanach writes: Tornadoes have caused devastating loss of life in the United States this year. While I'm fortunate to be unaffected, I was wondering whether open source technology can help distribute severe weather warnings. While large companies can use commercial products to alert staff, tools like asterisk should allow small and medium businesses to send phone and text alerts to staff. The challenge is getting warnings in timely fashion. The National Weather Service provides XML data, however the update frequency of every few minutes could be too slow for an event like a tornado. The obvious source seems to be receiving alerts in real time from the NWS weather radio. Unfortunately I have been unable to find an open source solution that can process an audio stream, reading the SANE header and allowing for an automated response. Have any /. readers tackled this problem at work or at home?

Submission + - Why Some People Can't See Stereoscopic 3D (

arcticstoat writes: "While punters are queuing up to see Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides in 3D, the film's main star, Johnny Depp, will never be able to see the film's 3D effects. Like millions of other people, Depp has a lazy eye, meaning that he can't combine the image from both eyes to create a stereoscopic 3D effect. In addition to this, some people with a strabismus (squint) can also struggle to see 3D, while millions of others report problems with nausea, headaches and dizziness as a result of viewing 3D. This feature discusses the various issues surrounding stereoscopic 3D with optometrists, and also reveals how 3D could even be used as a lazy eye correction tool in the future."

Comment Re:The question nobody wants to ask.... (Score 1) 187

In a string context (in Perl, it would have to be something besides ===, but we'll get to that later), it would be "visually equal to" - any characters that are visually equal would be considered equal (useful mainly when using Unicode). So the Cyrillic "e" (0435) would be considered equal to Roman "e" (0065). I'm not sure how to handle complexities like "is the single character 'small a with macron' equal to the sequence 'small a' and 'combining diacritic macron'". We'll need a committee for that, probably. And since Perl uses different operators to determine context, we'd need something else for that. "veq", maybe?

You cannot use visual similarities between glyphs that may or may not look similar in one font or another, because there exists no standard that spells out their correspondence.

In contrast, there does exist a standard that says whether two code points should be considered the same basic character. This is what you get when you compare two strings at the primary collation strength using the Unicode Collation Algorithm. This is perfectly easy to do in Perl, and is extensible to locale tailoring as well.

To do more than that is to ask to translate 133t$p3@k into normal text. It may have some applications, but it is not as useful as you think.


Proposed ADA Requirements May Affect Public Internet Use 420

An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press is reporting on federal officials who want to expand the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require accommodations by public websites, call centers, and technology providers. Hearings are scheduled in Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco. New rules could be implemented as soon as 2012. 'For more than a decade, the Justice Department has interpreted the ADA to apply to websites that offer goods and services. But now that idea could be clarified, and timetables for compliance could be set. ... The Justice Department is considering making it clear that some personal, noncommercial content would not be affected.'"
The Internet

The Ascendancy of .co 164

An anonymous reader tipped the fact that, with the .com namespace getting pretty well mined out,'s front page for domain registrations now defaults to .co instead of .com. The article claims that GoDaddy registers about half of new domain names. Neither the article nor GoDaddy makes it explicit that .co is a ccTLD belonging to Colombia, or that registering one costs about three times as much as a .com, at $29.99 per year. And if you select a .co domain name from GoDaddy's front page, a number of TLD variants are presented alongside .co — but .com is not among them.

Which Language To Learn? 897

LordStormes writes "I've been a Java/C++/PHP developer for about 6 years now. However, I'm seeing the jobs for these languages dry up, and Java in particular is worrisome with all the Oracle nonsense going on. I think it's time to pick up a new language or risk my skills fading into uselessness. I'm looking to do mostly Web-based back-end stuff. I've contemplated Perl, Python, Ruby, Erlang, Go, and several other languages, but I'll put it to you — what language makes the most sense now to get the jobs? I've deliberately omitted .NET — I have no desire to do the Microsoft languages."

Submission + - Saudi Arabia bans Facebook (

gandhi_2 writes: From the article:
An official with Saudi Arabia's communications authority says it has blocked Facebook because the popular social networking website doesn't conform with the kingdom's conservative values.


Submission + - Google: Third parties liable for Java infringement (

angry tapir writes: "Third parties, not Google, would be liable for any Java copyright violations in the Android mobile OS, according to a filing Google made in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Oracle sued Google in August over a number of alleged Java patent and copyright violations in Android."

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