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User Journal

Journal Journal: MS sums up MS-community support in avatar URL's


I was looking at why my avatar looked so odd on the MS site when I noticed the address FUD.community....FUD/Image..

Wasn't the term FUD created to reference MS's tactics in the market? (FUD: Fear Uncertainty & Doubt)....

Now I better understand MS's attitude toward the members of its fora. ;-/



Journal Journal: Microsoft already abandons full support for Win7

It seems like the days of MS supporting old versions of windows for years later is over. MS is so committed to getting you to move to Win8 (and give up your home computer**) that they've already dropped support for Win7 desktop features like the gadgets gallery that would have competed, directly with Win8 (providing the same features with a lower foot print).

If you try to visit the Win7 gadgets gallery http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/give-your-pc-some-personality-with-desktop-gadgets-from-windows-live-gallery, you are told that MS has already dropped support for "old tech" (their currently released product) to focus on new tech (new gadget OS win8).

It seems (bit surprise) MS has become an Apple follower. They want to emulate apple's success by providing the same product. An interface that's button like -- where they can sell apps, and get out of the expensive OS business and make lots of money selling cloud based vapor that you won't own and simply be a consumer of... That's what the majority wants anyway, developers are now (and have been for some time) a declining minority in the computer market, and gone are the days when companies would court and design products for them.

Today it's about designing for the consumer -- like any other consumer product, TV's phones, etc. And just like with them, do you see any offerings for development of apps for TV's? or OS's geared for such? The mere thought sounds ludicrous, no? That's were the computer market is headed -- at least for the home / consumer market.

There will still be a business server version, of Windows, likely, but the desktop, looks like it is being put down -- with support already dropping for things like 'gadgets' (apps) that directly compete (had the same functionality and are interchangeable with) today's "apps". Except, of course, that instead of being 'free' and coming with the OS, You'll pay 1-2$ for each of those 200-300 apps (assuming you wanted them all, which is unlikely), but each old os ability will be appified and sold for 5-10$.. even office. So while MS is advertising an intro upgrade price to Win8 for only $19, it's clear why -- it's only the door to their new store.

The last full featured version of Windows was WinXP, from there, they started
cutting and dividing the existing product into smaller pieces to sell separately so they could charge 7-10x what they charged for XP... with Win8, looks like they are doing another 10x multiplier.

It looks like MS ran out of ideas... and now can only resort to cannibalizing their old products into smaller pieces to sell separately in order to try to make more money....

I call for the US government to require MS to open the source for WinXP (and XP64) immedidate, and any of their products that they end support for within 1 year of ending support. If MS doesn't need the products anymore and they are 'obsolete', then obviously they have no need to keep the source proprietary anymore. Such would not apply to products where they are providing the same functionality in newer products, but such wasn't the case with XP (HW requirements in Win7 were much higher), and such isn't the case with Win8 (no desktop option).

It's time the software field was re-leveled, -- if it is becoming a commodity then old software should be moved into the public domain for the benefit of the public and society. It shouldn't be the case that a company is able to have so much influence over the country as to tell the country when they have to update and what is obsolete.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Government creates new generation of Heroin addicts

I first wrote this as a response to This slashdot article, but I thought the PR spin on the outcome was SO bogusly crocked, I had to mark this in my journal. Note, this isn't the only drug the government has gotten involved with and contributed to further hell for patients already having problems, nor is it the first time the government cure has worse effects that the original problem -- they are famous for that (prohibition, (both the alcohol one, and the marijuana one))...It's just another one that they've managed to spindoctor into a great triumph message that those who don't need such drugs can join in and feel morally smug about.

Original writing below:

I thought I was having a flashback -- at least 4-5 years ago... same exact article. Except then, it was still call Hillbilly Heroin" because most of the abusers were in Appalachia with the drug taking the place of more toxic and more dangerous heroin.

But this article does bring the update of "yesterdays" crackdown on pain meds. From the base article:

None of the men and women I spoke with used street heroin before taking OxyContin. All of them used it after using OxyContin. In fact, since Purdue Pharma introduced a reformulated OxyContin in 2010 containing chemical safety-nets meant to render it less easily abused â" the pills no longer dissolve in water, making them more difficult to cook and shoot intravenously â" the number of addicts switching to heroin has skyrocketed.

It's a good thing the FDA has done their job and gotten people off the legally addictive drugs -- so now they can have to scrounge and take their chances of dying from O.D. just like every other addict.

Meanwhile, those who really needed OC for pain find that since it doesn't dissolve in water -- it doesn't dissolve in your body as well either (we are over 60% water, w/the brain being over 70% water -- which is, of course, where the drug "acts" -- so the fact that it no longer dissolves in water significantly reduces its effectiveness requiring doubling or more the pain dosage. At the same time, Purdue was able to get the FDC to block out competitors in the market unless they could prove their 'generic' was as hard to abuse as Purdue's -- which Purdue had another 20-30 year patent on. The price for single doses tripled with the new formulation and now many health plans charge extra for that drug because it is 'brand' (despite there being no generic substitute on the market) -- and users need more of it.

So AGAIN, the FDA, who was *paid* to do this (they call it a fine -- what Purdue paid to the FDA), so now Purdue's profits on the drug have skyrocketed even as usage has declined. Triple the price and reduce the effectiveness of the drug by 40%... That's. 4.8 x profit / pill. They expected a smaller market -- but made sure they have a 20-year patent to lock the market into them as the sole providers.

So Purdue makes big money, the FDA look like 'tough guys', abusers move to heroin and everyone is happy! Except maybe those for whom the drug was designed in the first place who find they have their severe or chronic pain made all the worse with the higher prices, needing a higher dose, which doctors, not knowing about the formulation's effects (they don't take it, well not usually), always interpret as the patient developing 'tolerance' and and that "addiction is becoming a problem" --
to which they then try to divert the patient to less effective or more dangerous alternatives (like injectible morphine).

Yeah... another big win by BIG Pharma and a way to spin the story so that Big Pharma looks like they got punished, and the FDA protected us.
And then you can read a bunch of red-neck commentaries on slashdot about the moral superiority of those aren't in regular pain...lording it over those who are:

            what a load of self-inflating, self-gratifying, crap.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pop Culture (like VidGames) can influce behavior...

I found this in my paper edition of Skeptical Enquirer but couldn't find it online. Given that the writers are not given to 'myth', but deal in Science, I thought this article would be pertinent to the "Violence in VidGames leading to real life violence" discussion. The author writes about several cases of real-life conditions that 'coincidentally' follow wide-spread pop-culture releases.

While it seems obvious, to me, that that not everyone is affected by pop culture in the ways he lists, it seems equally obvious that some people are affected -- and in some cases may not even know the cause.

[FROM THE EDITOR - Skeptical Enquirer - May/June 2011]

Pop Culture and Questionable Cases

We are immersed in popular culture. The influences of Hollywood entertainment on what we think, say, believe, and do can seep deeply into our beings. Sometimes, without our even realizing it, this influence can distort our view of the real world. We have two examples in this issue. Both, curiously, involve memory.

The first is our cover article, "A Skeptical Look at a Remarkable Case Report of 'Overnight' Amnesia." Neuroscientists and psychologists Harald Metenbach, Thomas Merten, and our colleague Scott O. Lilienfeld critically examine a study about a supposed new memory disorder published last year in a journal of neuropsychology. After a car accident in 2005, a fifty-one-year-old woman seemingly loses her memories of each day's events overnight. Every day is new to her; her short-term memory is wiped clean only to be filled up the next day and then be lost again that night. The study has gained attention, but too little has been skeptical. Our authors rectify that situation and find major limitations to the report about her case: it lacks crucial background information (how does she carry on her job if she forgets everything from the day before?), fails to exclude feigning or lack of motivation to remember new material, and lacks "connectivity" to the scientific literature (something often under-appreciated)â" how exactly would memory be acquired during the day and then wiped out each night? There is no known mechanism for doing that.

These deficiencies of the study lead our authors to suspect that the woman has been strongly influenced by a fictional case depicted in a widely seen Hollywood movie, 50 First Dates, starring Drew Barrymore. The woman saw that movie several times after her accident. The authors of the original study noted that possibility but then dismissed it. Our authors do not. Occam's razor leads them to suggest the study doesn't demonstrate amnesia at all but a kind of simulation of it based on the woman's (mis)understandings of amnesia after seeing the movie. Something similar has happened before. After the airing of the 1976 television film Sybil, which portrayed a woman with supposedly sixteen distinct personalities, the number of such dissociative personality disorder cases "skyrocketed into the thousands."

Our authors draw several lessons from this case; one is that widely viewed television programs and films may influence how patients present or describe their own symptoms. The case reminds us, say Merckelbach, Merten, and Lilienfeld, "that in today's media-driven world, some disorders may be what we term telegenic in origin: induced at least partly by television, films, and news and entertainment media."

A second case is reported in this issue by our deputy editor, Ben Radford. He draws on research for a book he has just published on the supposed bloodsucking chupacabra creature, which suddenly appeared on the scene in 1995. Radford shows that the first sighting of a chupacabra came shortly after the woman who reported it saw a sci-fi horror movie, Species, featuring a creature that bears an uncanny resemblance (twelve morphological similarities, in fact) to her subsequently reported chupacabra. Radford, who flew to Puerto Rico to interview the woman, is convinced that she sincerely believes what she reported. But he is equally sure this movie is what started the chupacabra myth.

Our minds are a wonder. They have grand capacities for creativity. Sometimes, influenced by the pop culture all around us, they create things we then think are real. It's a fascinating, and sobering, set of lessons.

Kendrick Frazier

User Journal

Journal Journal: Amazon's route 53?

When I first saw this service offering, I had visions of this being a first step toward the offering of a private 'tollroad' to get to amazon's services (or your services hosted by amazon) that would enable customers using the tollroad to get faster speeds than over the 'public' interstate system. Not exact what it is, but that discursed into two separate chains of thought.

The first being a 'Brazil' (movie) future where internet denizens would have to have 'interstate-net' maps to determine their route to their destinations and see if there happened to be a toll-road, by-pass, running near their intended route that by detouring through, they might get faster speed for that leg of the journey at some increased cost, and how with real-time traffic updates, the efficacy of such routes could be computed in real-time to allow the net-traveler to navigate even local 'rush-hour' traffic zones with ease, though wondering how often one would find one's self on some isolated section of highway going at 100KB/s through a construction zone and thinking about the politicians always scamming for more money to build more freeways and bypasses that never seemed to actually alleviate congestion...Ug....headache and nausea terminated that line of thinking...

Then I read what Amazon's service was actually about -- it was just for DNS queries. While their upfront rates are very cheap, their backend, per-query costs are scary. They *sound* cheap, until you realize that a DoS attack against your DNS routers might leave you with a surprise bill that is far out of the range of your expectations.
Such 'pay-for-traffic' amount systems, right away show some of their worst flaws.
How many of the pay-for-traffic proponents are willing to swallow any fraud costs or inexplicable spikes in usage to their customers?
Sounds like yet another way that model to fail.
You can't charge customers for something they can't control. Even if you allow customers to specify 'cut-off' points, it's all too easy under such a system for 'malites' wishing to do harm to a site to overload it's cut-off points and get them taken off line or cost them a pretty penny -- by the DNS lookup. What a horrible system!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Google: bad joke-meister?

I'm searching for in Google:

        thunderbird "unread messages" "no longer" "in bold"

and Google asks back:

Did you mean: thunderbird "unread messages" "no longer" "in bed"?

Say WHAT?! That sounds like some game I played at a pajama pa...er nevermind.... What's google trying to do?!?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Frag of Divinity-II (drg fly); DRM, availability, rating+origins of, +sidenotes

The below was written response to someone who suggest 'goodoldgames' (gog.com) as a d/l site for many win7 compat games... I responded to them, as well as many side subjects that were on the top of my head as I described problems with the Divinity-II game, getting it and its' rating.... In order to provide any formatting, I had to quote 'side' topics or issues, as slashdot allows no formatting in their 'blog/journal' section -- a really poor feature for a journal, but we geeks are use to making due with poor software interfaces! Thus I replied:

Thanx for the heads-up on G'o'G, -- already clicked and bookmarked -- will check them out -- but either gonna make Divinity work w/copy I got or return it first since I don't wanna keep throwing good money after bad for a game that has so many flaws apart from the bugs -- it's not like it's Oblivion or such (Divinity is so much more limited, the flight system is *lame*...like driving a bus from the rear seat -- and lots of 'magic' arbitrary restrictions that make no sense other than to limit player game play.

_Some_ Divinity-II limitations (mostly dragon-form limitations):

Even though you are able to turn into a dragon as a special power, the flight control system is the same as human running (always running unless you turn on caps lock, then it's a slow walk) walking+running. Right+left are for moving right & left (x-axis movement), not turning; as a dragon, it tilts you right or left, but doesn't actually 'bank' as though you were in a turn.

Turning is with the mouse only -- but it's not a turn like with a steering wheel, it's "rotation" on the Z axis -- there is no banking or gradual turn to the right or left, it's like turning a bumper-car. But the visual feedback is BAD -- you have about a 120Â FOV, but it's completely flat/uniform no shrink at the side, so it looks like panning of a 30-60Â. There is no tilt (rotation on Y (forward-backward axis).

Even though you are above mountains @ distance, as you approach them, you are forced DOWN, so that even when you get to a pass, you can't fly through a pass, but instead have to go around, just as if you were walking -- the height away from mountains is such that you should be able to fly over all of the mountains in the central playing area (not at the edges where the mountains are higher), but as you approach any barrier, you are artificially forced down, so that you can't fly over any barrier, but must take the same path as though you were walking -- many places are like that, where you should be able to fly over things, but are artificially forced down -- would make sense if it was at the edge of a map where there was 'nothing' beyond, but it's done over all surface area except minor height objects like fences and low buildings.

To turn into a dragon, you must have a clear space above you and a space around you the size of a baseball field, even though as soon as you transform, you are placed 10 feet above the ground (you can't land or touch water in dragon form, though if you are in a clear area in water, you can turn into a dragon). But the restrictions mean that turning into human form is often a one-way transformation -- there are lots of areas where you can exist (fly into) as a dragon, but when you want to CHANGE into a dragon, you are told there isn't enough room for a dragon.

The space limitation causes a nasty game bug in one cave, fighting a demon, where the game forces you into dragon form to fight the demon, but if you change into human form to kill it (it's easier to kill as a human), you can't change back into a dragon, -- it says there is no room to take you dragon form, even though you just did it, when the game forced you to. It's completely clear overhead where you end up when you morph, but there's no baseball field of *level* space around you, so you can't change. Unfortunately, that leaves you trapped, since the entrance you come into the cave in is closed by a rock slide as soon as the demon dies. The only exit is by flying up to the top of the cavern, and approaching a path -- where you are then forced into human form and can walk out.

Note -- that in other areas, where the game isn't putting artificial restrictions on you, you can fly into rather tight spaces, but again, if you morph to human, you can morph back. In several areas, the game artificially restricts your movement like on the mountain approach -- it forces you away from the area you approached. You can't land as a dragon either.

To reiterate -- there is no up/down except by turning the direction you are looking (as a human mouse forward = look down, mouse back = look up), same w/dragon -- then you can move forward/backward to actually move in direction you are looking.

Final indignity on dragon (that I can think of off hand), is that while you have a mini-map/circular-radar, of your immediate area as a human, that's all you have as a dragon -- a horizontal radar -- but no indication of height -- opponents can be above or below you with no indicator. Needless to say -- this makes flight and fighting as a dragon very difficult. They don't recognize multiple mouse buttons - right/left click and 'other' (middle), so even my 4 button mouse has one mouse button duped to same action as left-click, no config -- even with external mouse-reconfig utils that work in other games & progs.

That's just my beefs with the dragon flying -- the 'big' feature. The game *says* it uses the Nvidia physX on the box & on the in-game credit, but it lies -- disabling 'physX' makes no change in game effects or playability or frame rate, so false advertising is present in addtion to the in-game, DRM-caused bugs that are suppoed to only activate for lack-of-CDROM, but activate even in download-only versions!

The In-game, frame-rate is limited to 30FPS (FRAPS) except on the entry-cut scene where you get 300-400+. Note: there is no option to skip 'cut scenes' -- including the annoying multi-author-publisher cut scenes at the beginning of the game, so no quick ability to exit or re-enter, since re-entering requires playing of all the start-advertising cutscenes each time (I've seen worse& longer, but all were able to to be cut-short by pressing Escape/space or clicking through).

I won't bother with all the OTHER problems and game bugs...those were only some of the most irritating.

So, do I want to try again w/another distributor? Not really worth it unless many things get fixed. While developers are still active in forums, I don't see much in the way of responses to stated problems, so there is less than zero commitment to fixing any problems -- since there isn't even acknowledgment that they exist -- let alone responses to detailed problem descriptions (with 1 exception where they said to send in my save-file for dissection -- something I haven't had a chance to do yet, but plan to do so)....

A final frustration -- more than one extension/addon/complete new game that can use your old character, is available, but only in Europe. Not for sale in the US -- perhaps because while the game is rated 12+ in Europe, it has a 'M' (17+) in the US.

Bogus ratings sidenote - origins

This is NOT a divinity-only problem, but is a problem with the US game industry. I've seen a few games like that -- Europe has higher ratings than 12+, like 14+ and 16+, I think an 18+ as well for adult titles, but many things in Europe that are rated 12+, get rated M here, due to the policies of the game censorship board being controlled by Catholic backers who want to keep keep occult and non-christianist elements away from impressionable children. Another REAL annoying element, is that sexually suggestive items like even a *string* bikini you can see on any beach in Florida/So.Cal, are automatically given a 'M' rating -- just like Sci-Fi and Fox regularly censor out any rear-view's of thong-style bikinis.

In Europe, breasts are considered a normal part of the human anatomy (like chests with extra fat...have you ever seen a fat-guys chest? Some look awfully reminiscent...not to mention ex-athletes who used steroids had have breast development (called 'bitch teats in some athlete circles).

But, in the US, (I wonder how a guy would be dealt with if he got breast implants? No hormones -- just breast implant -- would they still be a chest, most laws (except in progressive areas) say women can be topless (though in more 'progressive outdoor areas, they *SAY* tops required, but it's often very unequal in enforcement).

Anyway, in the US breasts as female thong bikinis/underwear of off limits in most media these days for benefit of Christianist-censors, AND for purposes of marketing. The pseudo repression of sexuality in US media is a powerful way to keep males titillated and offers a stronger and more compelling manipulation of the largest and most financially influential demographic: males, ages teen -> ~45 (works on older males, they just aren't in the same demographic).

It has the side effect of sexualizing and marginalizing females, which has its own benefits, and that may be part of the reason it is done, but I think that's a secondary reason -- with the main reason being to keep males 'aroused' and 'wanting' -- often feeling like they are not getting 'enough', even though they get as much or more than many modern western countries.

In the contrary direction, violence is given the "OK", with many violent and explicit scenes getting a Teen or 'PG/PG-13' rating here, that in some European countries get, at least an 'R', and often an NC-17, equivalent. But those are acceptable in the US, as it trains and prepares, what has usually been a mostly male audience, to be hardened 'warriors', and to be ready to be called out to war. I'm not sure when that mission in Hollywood started -- maybe the 70's during or after Vietnam, when too many men were perceived as getting weak and soft -- there's been a major push in male culture to get them to buy into the propaganda to 'man up', 'be tough', 'suck-it-up', "don't be a wussy". That's been a message for a LONG time, but it's been emphasized more and has overridden the Christianist messages of turn-the other cheek, and though-shalt-not-murder, and love-thy-neighbor.

Amusingly, those 'Xtian' messages were considered to be 'in the way' -- an obstacle to the objectives of their 'bedfellows' who they joined with in the late 70's to gain power to fight the democratic majority with Carter hosting the last balanced budget until the 2-year period after Clinton's first 6 years in office.

Budget side note:

The Clinton balanced budget was brought to an end, as we remember, with extreme prejudice, by Bush-II, as he ushered in tax breaks primarily benefiting those making more than $200K/year: 50% of the breaks benefited the top 5% (those making>200K), adding over 2.6Trillion to the deficit (about a 50% increase over the 5.6T debt when Bush-II took office).

Under discussion now is ending those tax breaks. Obama want to let the middle class keep their share of the cuts (people making under $250K). While the GOP is refusing to compromise--saying kill all -- they are trying to protect those making over $500K/year, with the inflated dollar, the GOP plan will add an additional 680 BILLION/year to the deficit -- or 6.8Trillion over the same 10 year period as the original Bush-II plan. Compare his to the *OUTRAGE* of the 26Billion in emergency financial stimulus aid that was given to state and local governments, that the GOP claimed would bankrupt our economy! Their plan costs 2600% more in the 1st year -- but then repeats every year after that -- forever!

Anyway -- it in the late 70's that the Xtian right jumped in bed with the GOP. Since then, with the 80's (heralding the "me" generation spirited in by Reagan and his borrowing of ~1.8Trillion from the 'future' (a 280% increase of the federal deficit) a bit more slowly in the 90's (Bush-I, only 48% increase over 4 years, and Clinton with a 4.2% annual (39% over 8 years), and the 2000's under, w/Bush-II increasing it from 5.6->10T (211% inc/8yr) ), Christianist messages have been turned on their head.

More on Christianist 'co-option' ratings effects

Christianist messages of altruism, charity and it being harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle -- (this coincided (though not clear about cause/effect or chicken/egg) with the Christianist movements joining with the GOP and Republicans at the end of the 70's that produced the Reagan presidency as well as the 2 Bush presidencies. Now you have Christianist churches preaching violence as an acceptable means to fight against those with 'wrong political views', and to a lesser extent against those with wrong religious views (atheists, Jews, Muslims). And most fabulously, instead of paying attention to Christ's anger with the money changers and the rich, many extreme-wealth churches now preach that being rich is a reward from God in this life time and that being poor is a sin! (Try finding that in a bible!)...but major mega-churches preach this as gospel, as they also get their members to title 10-15% (that's donate 10-15% of their (usually) pre-tax) income!). So it's interesting how the mainstream Xtian churches have been co-opted by the GOP and government to spread the necessary messages of violence and 'money/greed is good'...

But it's this 'inside-takeover' (co-option) that has been largely responsible for the bazaar movie and game restriction codes that are in place -- where "legal" sex and related actions are given 'X' ratings, while illegal 'murder' and violent actions are given the PG/PG-13 ratings.

Is it a wonder why the crime rate has gone up and the imprisonment rate has gone up so much since the beginning of the Reagan term (other factors are involved as well, but this is one of them). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_incarceration_timeline.gif http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/00-05_REP_PunishingDecade_AC.pdf

Needless to say, all of this DRM crap really adds salt to a long history of wounds... (Sorry for this all over the place...one of those days where so many things have such strong connections, I can't help but comment)....

User Journal

Journal Journal: DOJ investigating Apple-Google-Microsoft conspiracy

The US. Dept. of Justice looks at a "good-ol'-boys-club" ("gentleman's"[sic]) agreement to not hire each other's employees. While some sources slant the practice in a more business friendly way that the only activity that might be at issue is 'one employer trying to woo(poach) away others from their a member of their 'in-group', others point at the illegal practice and still others go the extra mile and give examples of what could easily be considered anti-competitive business practices that harm employees who might look to one of the other 'conspiring' companies for a better fit or better pay. That level of competitive restriction between the largest employers could have a noticeable and adverse effect on employee salaries and could be the basis for the DOJ's involvement.

If large companies agree not to compete for each other's employees, then employees at one of those companies would find themselves locked out of valuable (in terms of experience, and personal satisfaction, as well as monetary) job offers among the controlling clique.

Of interest are are the inter-collaborations of giants such as Microsoft, Apple and Google. Having MS & Apple, who often over extend their idea of what is their proprietary property, extend it to their employees isn't entirely surprising (though the fact that they are supposedly competitors is more than a bit suspicious), but 'do no evil'[sic?] Google?: seems a bad sign. Also mentioned were Yahoo and Genentech.

To thicken interest, the WSJ article points out that Apple and Google share at least two members on their boards of directors.

I guess the question of whether or not Google will refrain from 'doing evil', is no longer so much of a question if they are in bed with Apple and engaging in "Gentleman's"[sic!] non-compete agreements with Microsoft, in regards to employee talent.

User Journal

Journal Journal: List of [un/]supported slasdot html entites (as of postdate)

__quot: '"', __apos: ''', ___amp: '&', ____lt: '<', ____gt: '>'

Slasdot Supported ISO 8859-1 Symbols
_pound: '£', ___yen: '¥', brvbar: '¦', __copy: '©', ___reg: '®', plusmn: '±', frac14: '¼', frac12: '½',
frac34: '¾', _times: '×', divide: '÷'

Slasdot Unsupported ISO 8851-1 Symbols not supported
__nbsp: '', _iexcl: '', __cent: '', curren: '', __sect: '', ___uml: '', __ordf: '', _laquo: '',
___not: '', ___shy: '', __macr: '', ___deg: '', __sup2: '', __sup3: '', _acute: '', _micro: '',
__para: '', middot: '', _cedil: '', __sup1: '', _ordm: '', raquo: '', iquest: ''

Slasdot"/." supported ISO 8859-1 Characters
Agrave: 'À', Aacute: 'Á', _Acirc: 'Â', Atilde: 'Ã', __Auml: 'Ä', _Aring: 'Å', _AElig: 'Æ', Ccedil: 'Ç',
Egrave: 'È', Eacute: 'É', _Ecirc: 'Ê', __Euml: 'Ë', Igrave: 'Ì', Iacute: 'Í', _Icirc: 'Î', __Iuml: 'Ï',
___ETH: 'Ð', Ntilde: 'Ñ', Ograve: 'Ò', Oacute: 'Ó', _Ocirc: 'Ô', Otilde: 'Õ', __Ouml: 'Ö', Oslash: 'Ø',
Uacute: 'Ú', Ugrave: 'Ù', _Ucirc: 'Û', __Uuml: 'Ü', Yacute: 'Ý', _szlig: 'ß', agrave: 'à', aacute: 'á',
_acirc: 'â', atilde: 'ã', __auml: 'ä', _aring: 'å', _aelig: 'æ', ccedil: 'ç', egrave: 'è', eacute: 'é',
_ecirc: 'ê', __euml: 'ë', igrave: 'ì', iacute: 'í', _icirc: 'î', __iuml: 'ï', ___eth: 'ð', ntilde: 'ñ',
ograve: 'ò', oacute: 'ó', _ocirc: 'ô', otilde: 'õ', __ouml: 'ö', oslash: 'ø', ugrave: 'ù', uacute: 'ú',
_ucirc: 'û', __uuml: 'ü', yacute: 'ý', __yuml: 'ÿ'

Slashdot Only ISO 8859-1 _Characters_ not "/." supported:
_THORN: '', _thorn: ''

User Journal

Journal Journal: on realistic wargames being avoided for political reasons...

In reference to this article about the problems in writing realistic wargames, I commented:

So let's see, we want a 'game' with a "compelling" story-line that is based, as much as possible, on "what is 'real'":

  • First, it's important to note the parallels in this story with other media trends. There are parallels in the photographic news and in books as American's "sophistication" levels have evolved over time. Now there is a demand toward more realism vs. in the past<sup>(**1)</sup>.
    Now, realism demands are making stronger demands into modern gaming, where the game researchers strive for increased realism and send researchers out into the field and across world-sites for gathering actual field info for inclusion in modern simulation games (from world-photo trips for the latest LaraCroft games, to the Iraq-War Game example of gathering data from the actual war-zone to interview soldiers, AND, for realism's sake, the 'enemy' side. Makes perfect sense. But with a couple of points about the collision of reality and simulations-for-fun (games).
  • Showing 'real', may collide with 'politically correct'<sup>(**2)</sup>.
  • To be historically accurate, how will the illegal nature of the war being started handled (or avoided)? Is deliberate "avoision"<sup>(**3)</sup> collusion? Might such potential for collusion be regarded negatively by those judging the moral value of such a game?
  • Will a game, for sake of realism, include real-life episodes (or subgames) of torture<sup>(**4)</sup> Would not including that void the "realism" aspect of the Iraqi War simulation?

In light of the realities of this war and what has been (and is being uncovered) that an attempt to portray an accurately realistic game might be judged NOT to make for "good", or "fun" "game play" is not exceptionally surprising.*cough*

Hopefully war-games and such will stop being the 'fodder' for 'fun'-role playing games as they only lead impressionable minds into believing that such war 'games' are fun and that going to war isn't very ugly when it becomes sufficiently 'realistic'.


  1. (**1) Parallel events are seen in the literary-world, where 'real-life' stories from those who have survived 'trauma' make NY Times best seller lists, and Oprah selected reading lists because of their 1st-hand viewpoint of the realities of events that most US readers will never come close to experiencing.
    In a more "naïve" time, we contented ourselves with stories about such events. And for news, we had had produced video reals shown as entertainment-news in theaters during WWII, with stirring interpretation and music supplied by news/video-production organizations that were designed to inform, but also stir patriotic feelings of support for what was portrayed (and was mostly so) as a war against 'evil' <sup>(**1a)</sup>.
    Coinciding, heavily with the advent of first-hand video reporting of the news -- starting in the Vietnam era, but continuing up through modern times, we've become sensitized to the differences between 'real-life' portrayals and the 'produced' versions of 'real-life' events, somehow believing that only 'real-life' portrayals have true and lasting value (whereas the reality depends on the depiction, but such subtleties are lost and subjectively lost for judgment by the viewer). This 'black'-or-'white' thinking of 'real' or 'fake' is permeating culture -- so much that weird 'photo-ops' need to be created at expense and possible terror, vs. creating the same with a photo-shop program<sup>(**1b)</sup>.
    Much emphasis has been placed on the authenticity of book narratives written in the first-person about current events. It's of prime importance that such narratives be clearly labeled as non-fiction (meaning the person lived through them), or 'Fiction', meaning it's a story that gets relegated to a back book shelf, possible one for "current event commentary", or "political commentary" depending on the nature of the reporting. The result, though, is that masses of people who are focused only on the 'authentic', 'real-life', 'first-person' reports and events will disregard any account that is not labeled as 'non-fiction'.
  • (**1a) The concept of 'evil' v. good and dividing the world, moralistically, into simple categories of 'good' and 'evil' makes for easier control of the large masses, who have little education beyond the basics. Basics meant 8 years beyond Kindergarten(introduced in latter 19th century for 4-5 year olds). Beginning in the early 20th century the movement was to increase 'basic' education to 12 years, with it being the expected standard up through the 1st half the 20th century. However, in some areas, those extra 4 years were considered 'controversial', and there was resistance.
    It is notable that even today in the US, Amish children (mostly in Pennsylvania), are exempt from education beyond 8th grade, where it was considered that education beyond the 8th grade would be harmful to the Amish cultural way of life (with the exemption based on the 'religion' as being at the core of the Amish's simple way of life - rejecting nearly all modern conveniences -- until roughly the 90's when they started wanting the benefits of modern medicine to save their children's lives and extend the lives of their 'elders' who became repositories of knowledge of the 'old ways' (a contentious and troublesome issue in the Amish community considering the cost of such Medical advances and the limited ability of the Amish to produce anything of value to trade for such modern technological advances).
    But the idea of ruling the large masses using simple concepts of good v. evil (strongly true when 8 years post-'K' education was the norm, and mostly true but with decreasing effectiveness when education was increased to 12 years) was a central use of the 'church', by the state (though, unofficially in the US).
    There has been increasing effort by the religious right to 'dumb-down' education in the 9-12 years, as those were the years that were designed to be teaching children about the latest and most modern advances of science, math, technology and world advances, to prepare them for 'adult-hood' that was now being "postponed" till they finished their full education. Such education was considered (and is) necessary for participation in a democracy, and, especially, for participation in the increasingly modern requirements of today and tomorrow's workforce.
    The efforts to remove various parts of modern education (with special emphasis on dumbing down biology and human development, among other higher social skills involving critical thought) continue into today, as schools debate and strive to lower standards for advanced science (biological, geological, astrological, physics, evolution).
  • (**1b) With Reuters and other news organizations taking the hard line against *any* modifications of photos for news inclusion, for any purpose (being enforced by subsequent bans of the photographer or news-org responsible for the 'not-exactly-real' photo), to satisfy the need for "real" photos of "real planes" (even if they are empty and the entire action is staged), empty "Air Force One" jumbo jets are chased through the skies by a fighter plane around the Statute of Liberty, so a "REAL" photo can be created that satisfies real "NEWS" photo requirements (despite that what's being portrayed is a 'setup') -- since it is a real, non-photoshopped pic, it can pass NEWS organization's requirements for authentic, untouched photos!). Idiots. Following the letter of the 'law' (of journalism), to comply with legalistic picture requirements -- but missing the point that the picture was supposed to be a real-life event, not faked. But since it was a real-life-fake event, and not a photoshopped pic, that passes stringent news-picture and event requirements.
  1. <value=2>(**2) This happened in Vietnam, where camera views of war totally undermined support for the Administration's casual use of American boys (soldiers) in their Cold War Chess game. This type of 'on the ground', first hand reporting has grown more limited, over time.
    In the first Gulf war, reporters were kept away from front lines and only permitted access to the military control centers at the rear of the action. Unfortunately they blew it when they went live with broadcasts of ongoing military operations that told the enemy exactly what we were doing in real-time and caused the failure and abortion of affected military operations.
    In the Cheney-Bush-II war-operation all news communication was severely controlled by the state -- with pre-censorship fully alive and active "for the sake of national security". Not even pictures of wounded or dead US boys (soldiers), this time were allowed -- NOT even pictures of the rows and rows of coffins being returned with bodies of the dead. The Cheney-Bush-II was noted for keeping a lid on nearly all info for the sake of 'national security'.
  1. <value=3>(**3) Evoision - "Coined in tax-code" to refer to a moral 'grey' area, somewhere between technically legal "avoidance" and technically illegal "evasion". Used here in the sense of its morally grey implications.
  1. <value=4>(**4) Torture and humiliation seemed to be part of the US Cheney-Bush-II attack against 'terrorists, who justified it through legal memos as necessary evils to fight this 'new' type of war. New information confirming earlier, dis-credited excesses. The supposed actions of what the Cheney-Bush-II admin called "a few bad-apples"[sic], are now seen to have been functioning in an environment that was dictated from the top, on down through through pseudo-legal memos to perform such actions. These resulted in illegal torture techniques, where some people were knowingly violating (and some were deliberately kept 'stupid' and/or deliberately mislead about) Geneva Convention Law that applies to all foreign US military operations.
    Reports of those who objected on Geneva Convention grounds who, in some cases, died days later after objecting by supposed 'suicide' are already noted (<sup>Ibid

p.s. Please excuse primitive slashdot-enforced list-number messing-up and slashdot's non-superscript support.


Journal Journal: Cyberspies hack into USA electric et al. Grids

The Wall Street Journal published an article this morning that says remote-controlled software was found in electric-grid systems to allow future disruption of the grid.

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems.

Many of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies.

There are claims that Chinese or Russian hackers are behind the break-ins. Officials from both governments deny knowing of any involvement. Both statements could be true. The hacks could have come from Chinese or Russian hackers not working under their government's direction.

I didn't know so many of those control systems were "online" and accessible through the internet. I thought they were deliberately kept off the internet to prevent exactly this type of problem. It seems I was giving utilities more credit than was due. Talk about being "caught with your pants down".

I'm wondering how much of this is reactionary hype (the only source is the WSJ). If hackers had broken into multiple utility control computers, does anyone think it likely that NONE of them would have exercised or tried the control to see if they actually could control or shut down a system? They have done so in other countries, but have not heard of such here, so I'm wondering how much real danger was actually found vs. evidence of attempts to hack in and gain control. Unfortunately, the WSJ isn't likely to be a level-story source for something like this. Making the attempted break-ins sound more "alarming" would be in the Journal's interests (journalistically and politically).


Journal Journal: Earth's population: 'exceeding limits'

Looks like a few more people are beginning to wake up to the facts.

A US Science advisor, originally to Condoleezza Rice, but now to Hillary Clinton, Dr. Fedoroff, says we need to work on decreasing the growth rate -- we are approaching limits and are really probably over the limit of what the Earth can comfortably support.

I keep wondering who they idiots are that think earth can support multiple times the current population -- do they expect people to be hot-swapping beds and living spaces? Is everyone comfortable with their quality of life at that density? Could they be? Are there sufficient resources for everyone to be comfortable now with their quality of life? I certainly don't see anything close to a sign that even half of the world's population are happy or comfortable with their lives. Is it intelligent to condemn our species to increased misery and condemn other species on the earth to extinction in order grow, or, even maintain current population?

Earth *could* support more if **magic occurs** and we get unlimited, free, nonpolluting energy in unlimited volumes. But I don't see that happening in the near future...sure 'fusion' is just around the corner...but for how many decades has it been so? Given current tech we may be exceeding earth's population limits even now to allow for long-term sustainability of the planet. But if some don't care about our future as a species or about other species and a sustainable existence on the earth, then I believe those people are in the true evil among us that need to be dealt with in order for humanity to survive.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another Seagate drive goes belly up -- 3 in 2 months

GRR....woke up this morning to an evil email about another drive gone dead. Another 750G SATA. That's my 3rd Seagate SATA drive gone dead in the past 2 months 1-750G in Dec., 1-1T at beginning of Jan, and another 750G this morning...

What is this?? I been adding more fans & cooling when my 400GB Seagates went out after only ~30 months (out of a 5 year warrantee, but I don't care about warrantee, I want them to last, not be replaceable!). My idle drives maybe run in the 30-35C range, under load I try to keep them under 40C -- have alerts set for 38C. So I'm pretty sure these latest drives have maintained their cool. I *still* have a 750G ATA drive that's running 'fine'...That scares me -- But outlasting all of them are some 15K SCSI drives that I know have run hot in the past before they got dedicated cooling fans (didn't realize how warm they got and that case fans weren't enough). But the 15K SCSI's are running at twice the speed -- yet they are lasting 4-5 years or more (I replace drives before fail when I can -- at the first sign of a sector remap).

But the sector/track remapping, that's adds another question. Am I to believe that one the 750GB went to getting some unreadable sectors before fail, but it was less than a year old -- died it run out of spare tracks and sectors? I thought it should be able to handle some failures before exposing bad sectors to the user -- and allocate spare blocks. Two out of three 400, and 1 out of the 2 750GB drives showed unrecoverable sector read errors that I couldn't get rid of by reformatting or overwriting the partition or files. I'd hope that a write would remap a known bad sector -- back 5-10 years ago, hmmm....I think I had more IBM/Hitachi drives -- so maybe that's the difference. Looks like Seagate is going down hill in quality fast -- but this all seems to have happened since they purchased MAXTOR -- almost as if Maxtor's low quality disks were being sub'ed in for Seagate drives?

I had something similar happen on my Seagate 1TB -- it was a retail box, but inside was a OEM model 1TB disk -- the serial numbers MATCHED, but the model numbers did not. Fry's eventually took it back because I argued it was an open-box when I bought it and it could have been switched -- but both the Fry's person and I suspected the switch had happened at the Seagate factory -- which the Fry's person was still willing to 'cover', since they'd sold me a drive, fraudulently (in retail, 5-yr warrantee box, but with OEM-no warrantee disk inside).

Maybe this is someone at Seagate giving Fry's a bad deal due to the Fry's payola scandal. Seems trite, but someone might have been out for some payback.

User Journal

Journal Journal: MS research proves placebo effect works w/software as well

I keep seeing these advertisements about Windows "Mohave" -- a ad campaign where they convince 'everyday users' (i.e. people who don't know squat about computers) how great Vista is by fooling them into trying it on specially tuned systems provided by Microsoft. Of course, the systems provided by MS have all certainly been equipped with high-end hardware, and pre-installed and pre-tuned by MS engineers to shine. And the non-computer savvy types see the new Vista interface and, of course, "oo" and "ah" over the high end interface (only in premium versions of windows costing up to hundreds extra on top of the high end hardware).

The 'computer-ignorant' "users" were easily fooled by MS and thought it would great to try it home...so the ads would have us believe.

So what does this tell us? If you throw computers at customers that cost 3-4x what mid-range computers cost and pre-tune and set them up with the most user-friendly settings and extra hardware (how man computers, available today, 'come' with the ability to receive HD-TV already built-in? Even if you buy an HDTV card, how many would be able to save HD-video & audio to disk "in the background"... OR are they only intending to sell these computers as "Media Centers" -- and not general purpose computers? Did they show any of the consumers the feature where NBC "accidentally" tests remote blocking of end-user recording of their favorite programs? I'm sure they'll love Vista once they've switched over and depend on it to record their favorite shows...

Vista got a bad wrap because it was evaluated by experts and compared to Windows XP. It was slower and provided little to no user benefit. The only beneficiary of Vista was NBC & Hollywood. Of course Apple users have nothing to feel smug about, Apple has bowed down and added the same DRM to all their new system.

Upcoming, probably more for the computer experts, is 'Windows 7' -- already said not to be a radical departure or change from Vista. But the problem is -- all the things added to Vista that slow down drivers and performance and remove user rights -- they all be in Windows 7. So how would Win7 be different from a Vista SP2 or SP3? I'm guessing most of the work on Win7 will be to support new hardware and to address performance problems -- so reviewers won't slam it as bad as they did Vista. MS has already lowered expectations with Vista, so even if they get back all of the speed lost in Vista -- will it be any faster or better than XP? Or is it just another offering to seduce us into a MS-NBC-Hollywood media controlled future?

Perhaps Windows 7 is more like a "Mohave 2" (with no real improvements, and almost as good as XP in performance (even with all the DRM layers in the background). MS may also be hoping that the price of high-end hardware will come down to mid and lower price-points so consumers can buy more computer to handle the 'basic' Aero-version. But since most consumers will want media playin too, they'll be persuaded to buy 'ultimate' to get Windows Media Player (a free download under XP, but a new level of expense when sold as part of Vista).

So much for computers being a benefit for all mankind. Instead of being used to further knowledge, their biggest use appears that it will be to further subdivide waning resources in order maximize money extraction from the masses to the elite. But hey, it's the word of God: For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they seem to have will be taken away (Math 13:12 + 25:29, Mark 4:25, Luke 8:18 + 19:25-6, Thomas 31:1). Hmm...when Christians say the US is a 'Christian' nation are they really meaning Christianity = Capitalism? Interesting...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Gulf war syndrome acknowledged as physical not psychological

Certainly no big surprise to me -- and not that it really should matter (given research on effectiveness of placebos and potential harm of 'nocebos'), but A committee of scientiests setup by the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs has reported physical causes for Gulf War Syndrome (organophosphate nerve gas, nerve gas remedies and insecticides) as reported in this New Scientist article.

And yet another of one of those "all in your head" diseases is now shown to be real. When will medical science learn -- that just because they can't find or don't know the cause doesn't mean it is psychological -- especially when large groups report similar symptoms...

Maybe this will get some vets some much needed treatment & respect (though I won't hold my breath).

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