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Submission + - Best credit card practices? (

justthinkit writes: It seems to be almost impossible for people to use Uber or Lyft without having their credit card credentials stolen, then sold online for as little as $4 a card. With no way to reach a person at the ride-providing services, consumers appear to be left with no choice but to cancel yet another card and request a new one. Are there better ways of providing payment online, or easy ways of obtaining "burner" charge cards? Is this the fault of smartphone applications, or are these insider hacks?

Comment How does it work legally for boats? (Score 1) 183

Many larger recreational vessels (say, 30' and over) have been available with combination systems (radar, depth sounders, chartplotters, autopilots) which integrate to make the boat self-piloting.

Surely at some point there have been problems where these systems didn't work as intended and there were accidents that resulted.

For most boats, though, at best the control system (electronics and autopilot) might come from one vendor, the hull from another, and the primary propulsion from a third.

But I wonder if they have held the electronics/autopilot liable for the malfunction or if they have shifted it onto the mariner in all cases.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 129

That's kind of bullshit, really, because the enable-exchangecertificate -services flag specifies specific services in an umbrella manner (eg, IIS, SMTP, etc) and neither it nor its official documentation explains that assigning a certificate to these services *won't* actually use this certificate.

Ie, the -services iis flag will get your assigned cert for OWA/ActiveSync/OA with IIS, but the Backend site will hang onto the self-signed cert at installation, as will hub transport SMTP. And it's poorly documented at best and NOT mentioned in the enable-exchangecertificate documentation in addition to running counter to past version behavior.

But the larger problem is that Exchange on premise is rapidly become a spaghetti mess of code written mostly for O365 hosting and cut-down and neutered for sites not quite ready to pay 3 to 5 times as much for hosted Exchange. The documentation blows, which is magnified as more and more configuration melts into a maze of Powershell commands.

I predict that by Exchange 2019 or whatever the next version is that MS will have reduced the documentation and ease of management so much that only sites large enough to support dedicated exchange teams (and access to high-level support) will even be able to run it on premise.

Comment Re:Always wait for the S version (Score 1) 102

IIRC, the AT&T Next program or whatever they called it made my last iPhone (6 Plus, so it's been a while) basically an 18 month interest free loan.

If you're upgrading on two year cycles, then that's at least 6 months with no payments. 3 years would make it 18 on and 18 off with payments.

In some cases, even "perpetual" payments may not be as bad as they seem. Until the 6 Plus, I upgraded every year but my wife got my year old handset and her handset got pushed down to be our "home" phone. So each phone technically had a 3 year (probably slightly longer) use cycle, at which point it was close to software obsolete or nearly unusable with the most recent software update.

My 6 Plus is the first iPhone I've had where there wasn't a noticeable degradation in performance when switching to the "new" OS released with a new phone model. Between that and the lack of compelling new technology, I've been content at this point to hold on to my 6 Plus. It really is all I need.

Comment Re:People are a problem (Score 1) 123

You're right that the tyranny of the majority could be a big problem, but these days initiative and referendum seems like it has some real benefits. As a safety override for legislatures which are increasingly incapable of only passing legislation beneficial to the moneyed class or so divided by partisanship they are unable to fix issues which the partisans have stakes in but which the electorate sees as non-partisan.

I'd put legalizing recreation marijuana in the category of cases where referendums served the public good. It stays illegal because the existing stakeholders in the security state and big pharma see it as antithetical to their individual interests, and most politicians are too pusillanimous to take a reasonable position on the issue.

Comment Re:Anthropological principle (Score 1) 187

You look at humans and see consciousness. I look at humans and see life. I see no difference between the two.

Nope there's a slight difference in how the word consciousness is used. I do NOT look at humans and see consciousness. If I look at other humans, all I can see is brains (and life, as you put it), and if I think about it, I assume those brains are conscious. BUT I cannot see their consciousness. Only I can "see" my consciousness, and it isn't even a seeing in any normal sense of, a subject looking at an object, because for me, consciousness is the subject, or to get religious, the Supreme Subject or Supreme Self, but that woo language isn't necessary, albeit poetic, it is just that, if I wasn't conscious, then I would experience nothing, and not even nothing, there could be no sense of "experiencing nothing" because experience itself, of anything, would simply not be, for me. I would not be. The analogies for consciousness are that it is a mirror on which everything is reflected, but the mirror itself is not made of anything, it is more like "space" or "emptiness". Again, poetic, but just that's consciousness.

Life is consciousness, and vice versa.

You experience consciousness as the ability to think, to say to yourself, "this is why I am doing this."

Again, not quite. Descartes said, "I think therefore I am" but he was mistranslated! It was more like, "Being, therefore Existence". A dog may be sentient, but that doesn't mean it has thoughts about itself. Man 500,000 years ago may have been sentient, but the contents of his experience didn't include thought out questions like, "why am I doing this", rather, he may have operated purely on instinct, but also, experienced his life, or given he didn't have the thought, "my life", he may simply have experienced running down large animals and experienced his hunger satiated by the flesh. Likewise elephants might be sentient but because they lack the neurones for abstract reasoning, they just hang about in their herd and look for water, experiencing life on the savannah like that.

Sadly, the FMRI machine, transcranial magnets, and some modern science experiments have shown that consciousness is just a side effect, a plausible explanation of our actions fed to the conscious mind by the real workhorse of human action and thought, the non-verbal parts of the brain. For instance, say you decide to move your arm. TOO LATE! Your brain started sending the signal before you consciously thought if it, before you decided, before you thought. Then thought is merely the reflected afterimage of non-conscious/non-verbal modules of the brain, the part of the brain that thinks it is the motivator, the initiator of action when in reality it is merely the translator of actions and thoughts into verbally accessible structures and experiential sensory phenomena. It is almost as if consciousness is just the "seminal memory," an altered version of events that gives the verbal part of the brain an understanding of what has just happened in terms it can relate to, but which actually deviate quite strikingly from actual reality.

Seeing thought and consciousness as the illusion they are, realizing that the actual human experience of life is inaccessible to the verbal mind, and therefore not able to be experienced truthfully, and that every verbalization of experience is fundamentally flawed with the untruths inherent in our experience of reality as "thinking beings" with "consciousness" becomes a little disorienting. Better to take the observation of "life" and "consciousness" outside the organism which we have proven has issues (massive ones!) with internal consistency, objectivity of experience, and even cause and effect.

From outside we see a complex system, reacting to the environment based on a system of internal rules. We call it life. It has movement, structure, and seeming purpose. An issue arises though. This is is in many ways functionally indistinguishable from the levels of complexity we see expressed from sub atomic particles, to atoms, to molecules, to cells, and to other organisms. This thing we call life is made up of the things we call not-alive, and yet, when observed very closely, these not-alive things seem to behave much like life does. The molecules have movement, structure, and seeming purpose. When introduced to other molecules they seem to take action, operating in these actions according to a set of internal rules. Even their constituent parts are the same, having movement, structure, and seeming purpose. They operate according to a set of internal rules and seem to take actions when introduced into an environment with other similar scale parts.

This is a fundamental truth of our universe. There is a fractal arrangement of interactivity, structure, and purpose from the incredibly micro sized up to the macro size. Everywhere we can observe, and at every scale. Some would say this complexity has reach it's pinnacle in the human form. That our intelligence and consciousness is the top of the scale.

I call that arrogance. Hubris if you will. We would be as aware of the levels of organization, structure, and seeming purpose above us as enzymes are aware of cells, as heart cells are of the horse they inhabit.

Our first gods were the sun, earth, moon. If they are the next scale up, who is to say they don't speak the cosmic language of large bodies, expressed in magnetism and gravity, emission spectra and absorption, or forces we cannot yet detect in the dark spectrum? What would they converse about?

Yeah that last part is pretty woo, but would we even know the difference if it were true?

Well, this goes to what I was saying that some people think consciousness is a hard problem, and others dismiss it. The reason you're dismissing it is basically because we know there is a brain and the brain is doing a lot of work which we don't experience. I do not for example, experience the cells in my retinas assembling information into patterns of light and dark and nor do I experience the neurones in my brain which are busy detecting edges in images, and so on, all the way up to the "room, desk, and chair" which I actually experience. So we would conclude that consciousness is just a thin layer or illusion. And there is a lot of truth in that. But see this goes back to my point, why bother being conscious at all?

So, imagine a second that you are as you are, a human operating in the environment, with all processes happening unconsciously in the brain. Imagine, if you will, that you are NOT sentient. Does this feel like it is just a small and unimportant change? DO you mind existing but not experiencing anything of life? Or is that tantamount to being dead?

If that total oblivion is death, like you were in an accident and they restore 99% of your brain function, so you can continue to walk around and go to work, but your conscious experience has vanished, you are no longer sentient, is that like being dead?

Yes, the data which appears in our experience has come via a long chain of processes which we do not experience (all the way back to the big bang actually). And as sentient beings, would we not be "dead" without consciousness?

Comment Re:Interesting to mull over effect of shapes. (Score 1) 102

You can't really compete with the concept of WWZ zombies -- they're just too fast and aggressive, but I think nearly every other invocation of them would fall away from an elliptical wall.

The other low-tech zombie fighting tool I've always wanted to see employed is a good old demining flail. These look like tanks with a combine attached on front, only the combine part is steel weights the size of melons attached to chains. They rotate and pound the ground to set off any mines.

If you raised the flail assembly so it just spun in the air, you could literally drive into zombie hoards at low speed and just pulp them.

My guess is that a similar apparatus on a smaller scale could probably be adapted to nearly any vehicle, probably even improvised from hydraulic sweeper attachments for Bobcats.

Comment Re:You all laugh now (Score 2) 102

I always wondered why a slope with an incline that gradually increased to vertical wasn't ever employed in zombie fiction forts. They would shamble forward until their center of mass shifted and then fall back.

With the right slope contour, you could make it so they fell back pretty far.

Another option would be a kind of blind curve, where they shamble in and then just shamble away on the other side.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 129

Why aren't these tools built in, though?

IMHO, PKI on Windows is problematic less because PKI is complex but more because the in-built tools suck or are non-existent.

Most IT admins are oversubscribed enough that writing that Powershell script or putting together the third party tools for certificate expiration won't happen, especially when you consider for most organizations the number of certificates that matter is relatively small.

I will grant an exception for Homeland Security, though, as any organization using PKI to that extent ought to have an entire team responsible for managing it, which means they would have the time/tools/experience to deal with it.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 129

I think you're basically right, PKI implementations are horribly complex in practice and doubly (or more!) so with Windows.

It seems to get worse as certificate-based security gets added into products as defaults installations. As an example, Exchange 2016 installs a self-signed certificate by default which gets assigned to SMTP and IIS. The normal (spanning back several releases) process of adding and assigning a public certificate to services doesn't change the self-signed certificate assignment and use for the IIS Exchange Back-End site or for transport connectors.

I ran into these are problems recently with a customer who deleted the self-signed certificate after installing and assigning his public certificate. Bam, dead Exchange GUI -- had to re-bind the back-end Exchange site in IIS with the public certificate.

Another customer had "verify certificates" enabled on their spam service and when they switched SMTP delivery to the new server, the self-signed cert was still being used by the front-end receive connector. It took some kludgy, un-documented Powershell to force the connector to use the public certificate -- ie, the attribute has to be built as a compound variable using sub-attributes of the public certificate combined with some text, and then that variable assigned as the TlsCertificateName on the connector.

So even if you're trying to use certificates, application behavior and certificate selection is pretty opaque in many cases and can actually ignore specific certificate assignment options.

I won't even get into the management trainwreck that is Windows certificate server, with its 2003-era dialog boxes and management tools. In my mind at least, all of this could be modernized and made much simpler to manage, but the toolchain remains completely user-hostile.

Comment Re:Yes, it's *giants* all the way down. (Score 2) 125

I mostly agree, plus there's a level of semantics to what we choose to call "genius".

And there's also, not to be ignored, a thing about "emergence". That's when certain conditions make something new possible. And that's a bit different to incremental change. For example, hypothetically, the world has 197 countries (or so) and you could incrementally see blocks merging until maybe there's just 3 counties. Now the difference between 197 and 3 seems big, while the difference between 3 and 0 is small, yet the move from 3 to 0 is arguably the most significant change, as at that point, a very different world becomes possible, a world without borders.

There's other names for this sort of thing, like "network effect" and "tipping point" and so on. A lot of things are around but don't actually make a big impact until there's sufficient adoption. In that sense a company can make an impact if they, through deals and marketing, manage to promote adoption, even if their own technical contribution was minimal.

And it's weird with social things like religion -- if just a few people believe it then it is a crazy whako cult, but if millions believe it then it is a religion and worthy of respect and tax exemptions. O_o

Comment Isn't this why many people voted for Trump? (Score 1) 474

Or at least semi-intelligent people?

They knew in their hearts he was kind of incompetent, but they also were so cynical about any establishment politician being able to effect meaningful change that the only way to achieve it was to empower an incompetent with the idea that it would break the system.

Of course, breaking the system has lots of unplanned side effects, too.

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