* Posts by Mostor Astrakan

173 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Apr 2007


Windows 10 feedback: 'Microsoft, please do a deal with Google to use its browser'

Mostor Astrakan

It looks like a very complicated way of starting World of Warcraft... Which is all I use Windows for anyway.

NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine

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The problem with Oracle pricing is often not even the number of UK Dollars. It's the sheer hassle. Oracle contracts are so complex that they make the Goatish One's bids for your soul look like a picnic. Especially if you are beyond the trivial size. Oracle comes knocking if you add more CPUs to your system, if you assign more CPU capacity to your virtual machines, unless you also want to pay licenses for the VMs that you *don't* run oracle on for some reason. If your database grows beyond a certain size. If you have more users than you used to have.

With open source solutions, you can merrily shift data from one server to the other, grow it as big as you want, for as many people as you want and nobody gives a damn.

Fearful of the drone-filled skies? Get some protection

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Re: This isn't PROtection... it's just DEtection...

If it's worth engineering, it's worth overengineering.

Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS

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Re: @asdf The desktop deadend.

I've got my home directories on a different machine - a cute little Debian-based NAS box by Excito. Mind you, I stripped that thing down and rebuilt it more or less from scratch with OpenLDAP, Samba, Apache, DNS, DHCP, PXE-boot and a few more interesting things. Which might be slightly over-engineered for your average home user.

Big Blue's GPFS: The tech's fantastic. Shame about the product

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"But I would say that it seriously benefits from not being set up by a point-and-click GUI."

Oh yes. Many things do. You can get an HACMP cluster running in roughly five minutes using the user friendly SmittyWizard. Any idiot can do it. Which leads one to the disadvantage of having something that any idiot can set up: You get a cluster (or in this case a high performance file system), that you are going to trust the weight of your Enterprise to... set up by idiots. Which is why the section of IT bods who are not idiots never go for the easy install option.

Furtive ebook readers push Hitler's Mein Kampf up the charts

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Re: @Tony Green "Religious groups often try to portray atheists as monsters"

Well, he was a Catholic, though he doesn't seem to have been much convinced by its actual doctrine. Reading up on it, Wikipedia suggests that he remained a member of the church mostly for political and tactical reasons. And of course, what better reasons for genocide than to claim that God tells you to?

So yeah, creationists claim he's an atheist, and atheists claim he's a Christian. Nobody wants him.

Fact is, Charles Darwin is never even mentioned in Mein Kampf, and I don't think any mention of evolution is used in the biological sense. Feel free to point out if it is. He was a big fan of eugenics, but that is a school of thought that's far, far away from anything Darwin or any of his successors.

Be prepared... to give heathens a badge: UK Scouts open doors to unbelievers

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Can we please stop doing religious discussions among the uneducated? Little baby sheep and calves are sleeping on the cold hard concrete because all the straw has been shipped out to make straw men!

In the interest of at least getting your terms right:

THEISM: "I Believe There Is Some Kind Of God" (Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Vikings etc.)

ATHEISM: "I Do Not Believe There Is A God" (Note: absence of BELIEF, not absence of GOD).

ANTITHEISM: "I Believe That There Is No God."

AGNOSTICISM: "The Evidence Does Not Support A Firm Statement On The Existence Of A God"

APATHEISM: "I Don't Know If There Is A God And I Can't Be Arsed To Find Out"

ATHIEST: "I Resemble Most The Creature Known As Ath" (No bearing on anything divine, present or absent).

The LUN must DIE. Are you with me, storage bods?

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Ye gods...

Oracle bods here are still asking for two equal copies of their transaction log archives so they can mirror them from Orrible. And of course they need to be on "Separate disks in case one of them breaks", and can I *guarantee* that?

Dude. This is the 2010s. Disks don't break anymore.

Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE

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The cynic in me suggests that they co-opted the reboot key sequence so that people would get used to it and press it on more enlightened operating systems.

Grand Theft Auto V: Violent, sweary and amazingly ambitious

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Re: I think the reviewer is on the mark

You'll just have to wait till the "Proper Job" add-on comes out. Apparently, you can play as a stockbroker or an IT tech support guy.

Torvalds suggests poison and sabotage for ARM SoC designers

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Yes, yes. I see the expected responses here. Can't Linus be a bit nicer, is all that swearing really necessary. Civilised people don't puncture each other's brakes, and couldn't he be a bit more professional and polite? To which the answer is, yes he most certainly could. But there is one tiny little problem if you are. People don't fucking listen!

NSA: NOBODY could stop Snowden – he was A SYSADMIN

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Re: In response

On direct orders from President Obm.

Microsoft gives away more data with SkyDrive upgrade

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The joys of sparse provisioning. For every person who uses the full 25GB, there's a whole horde who never will.

Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

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Essays? Fuck yeah!

I am one of these weird people who actually likes to write docs. I have an IT degree, and in a forty-hour week, we had one hour of Communicative Aspects. Like any other teacher, the lady teaching it said that this, THIS, was the most important thing you'll learn. And what did we learn? Well, we learnt that documents have structure. We learnt how to cite sources. We learnt how to order our thoughts, and the two most important questions that you ask when putting fingers to keyboard. (1) WHY am I writing this? (2) WHO am I writing this for? These questions apply equally to a network design for a multi-national enterprise and a piece of Harry/Snape slashfic.

If your answer to (1) is "Because someone said I had to", Your document is going to suck, and waste my time. Before you even open up a word processor, THINK. A good answer here is: Make sure that my friends and colleagues can build the thing that I have just dreamt up.

Which brings us to (2). Most documents I see every day, if they are not just there to tick the "Documentation" box, are written for fucking telepaths. No, I do not know what connection there is between box A and box B, because you just thought that up, and I don't WANT to read your sordid little mind, or make assumptions. The biggest sin you can commit in writing is assume that people already something. Yes, your colleagues will know what an IP address is. That's why we hire people with degrees. No, I do not know what brilliant trick you just pulled with the netmasks to make packets go to America.

The art of writing documents is heavily undervalued in IT, and because of this, I regularly see documents in my inbox that are complete drivel, and I would literally be better off without them. I don't even care about the odd spelling mistake, as long as it's not in a command I have to execute. I do care that all the information I need is there, and NOT hidden in some throwaway line in the introduction, but properly labelled, as part of a coherent set of thoughts that I can follow.

So yeah. Essays. Documents. Designs. Learn them. Love them.

Who wants a 'robot companion'? Look no further than Intel Labs

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I know of a commercial for this

"Your plastic pal who's fun to beeeee with!"

British bookworms deem Amazon 'evil'

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Re: What sort of cretin buys a Amazon Swindle anyway?

Weeelll, they'll be perfectly happy with it until it falls off the table once too often, causing a need for replacement, and they unwittingly buy this other reader that's a bit cheaper and has colour, and then having got it home, they start wondering how they get their books onto their new shiny.

Movie, TV ads annoying? You ain't seen nothin' yet

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Re: "I think we're on the brink of a massive change in the industry,"

Actually, someone pointed out to me that DRM isn't necessarily an off-switch for the end-user, but for the publishers. While we the public can get away with circumventing DRM, a company can hardly start selling pirated copies. So from that perspective, DRM is working just fine.

Though the background music for the "You wouldn't stomp on a kitten" annoyance is said to be used with less than fully complete rights to do so. So the "Unless it's ME doing it" clause seems to be in full effect.

Look out! Peak wind is coming, warns top Harvard physicist

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As far as I can tell

There's two problems with windmills:

1) Not enough juice comes out

2) They work when THEY want to, not when WE want to

This doesn't necessarily mean they're completely useless, because we can use them to charge up the batteries of those electric cars we all know and... well know, but to supply the UK's ~50 GW demand of electricity you need something you can just turn on and use whether or not the wind is blowing.

A nice and free book I found on teh Interwebs recently is "Sustainable energy without the hot air" by David MacKay. And everyone should have a look at gridwatch.templar.co.uk for a nice dose of perspective. Ecotricity tweeted happily about their new 66MW wind park (up to 66MW if we use the highest rated capacity turbines for the height restrictions, was how they put it to me). Which compares to 48690MW (according to GridWatch at the time of writing) as "not even a tenth of a percent". Still, kudos to them for using SI units rather than "Enough For $BIGNUM Homes". Those numbers always look impressive until you compare them to the 60 million people on the Island.

Space station 'naut supplies Reg with overhead snap of Vulture Central

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A nice rendition of the Dread Sigil Odegra there.

NASA: 'Those life-on-Mars rumors? Chill, dudes and dudettes'

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Nasa is...

Slowly but surely, drawing its plans against them.

Serves the bastards right.

IT departments are BRATTY TEENAGERS

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Re: "[P]lus heavy emphasis on configuration management...

That's OK. Once you install the agent, they don't need your stinking root password anymore, they can just bypass the login controls, giving write access on every file in the company to some rancid Windows box.

But that's OK, they have role-based access controls. In the hands of... who, exactly?

Sysadmins! There's no shame in using a mouse to delete files

Mostor Astrakan

I'm a Unix guy and I have nothing against GUIs.

I've nothing against GUIs, as long as they have been well designed, and one day I hope I will see one that is. Honestly, the number of completely crap graphical apps I've been forced to work with makes me wonder whether anyone ever tries to use these things before allowing them to escape from R&D. Among the most common mistakes are:

Hiding the useful information behind several layers of screens.

Being completely fscking useless unless you run them full-screen.

Wasting space on my screen with blank pixels, while squeezing the useful data somewhere in a corner

Menu structures designed while on LSD (I don't know where this goes... Let's shove it under "Advanced" or "Tools" or "Actions"!)

Overly ambitious misfeatures that slow down your machine to a crawl. Usually, using some kind of "Framework" that is bigger than your actual application, consumes half of whatever RAM you have, and takes ages to load. If I have the time to move my hand from the mouse to the keyboard while you start, you're slow. I still remember the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE prompt. I thought computers could load programs into memory faster these days. This is 2012. I don't want to watch applications slowly build up their screens.

Toolbars with stupid pictures When was the last time you looked for something using a pair of binoculars or a magnifying glass?

Tooltips. How many times have you hovered your mouse over something in the hopes that something would pop up explaining what the fsck this random collection of pixels was supposed to represent? And if you're going to tell me what the word is, why not put it on the screen in the first place?

Non-trivial shit happening when all I do is hover the mouse somewhere. Usually obscuring the information I'm interested in.

Modal boxes that prevent you from using some other part of the application.

Trying to be fscking helpful when you are trying to get things done.

Over the years, I've found just a few applications that either work well out of the box, or that I can make work properly by disabling most of the crap. The Linux file manager is one. The Linux document viewer is one - I have illustrated this by using Adobe Acrobat to open a PDF, turning to my Linux laptop to open the same file, and having it on-screen before Acrobat shows itself. All wordprocessors suck, but I now know how to make OpenLibreOffice suck less and keep its filthy mitts off the things I type. Kompozer also falls into this category. Software, whether GUI or CLI, should get on with my jobs, and stay the fsck out of my face.

W3C: 'Do not track' by default? A thousand times: NO!

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W3C is right.

What you have to remember is that this is not so much technology to block tracking, as it is a way of communicating unequivocally to whoever is listening that you do not want to be tracked. As such, it *has* to be a decision on the part of the user to turn it on, otherwise squiffy companies can just claim that nobody takes the trouble to turn it off, make a case that it is really another bit of noise in the communication put there by browser makers, having nothing to do with the users' preferences, and continue tracking regardless.

So yes, the DNT flag does have to be turned off by default, simply to destroy that argument. And we need a bit of a publicity campaign to point out to people that they DO want to turn it on and where the checkbox is.

Ballmer says 500 MILLION 'users' to 'have' Windows 8 in 2013

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Re: One of you, folks, is in great danger

Gods yes. Luckily, Ctrl-Ins, Shift-Ins and Shift-Del still work. C for Cut? No... Copy. X is for cut because it looks like scissors, see? And V for... well, being conveniently next to C.

At least vi has the excuse of being able to run on anything from a paper terminal to my Linux laptop.

Only global poverty can save the planet, insists WWF - and the ESA!

Mostor Astrakan

Re: Solar + Wind ARE 10 times more expensive than Fossile + Nuclear


If you look at the daily and weekly demand, you can see that usage starts to go up by ~6:00, and stays high until ~22:00, after which it tapers down. This suggests that lighting isn't the biggest drain on the grid. Industry and trains, probably...

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Re: Don't shoot the messenger, shoot the journalist.

The WWF, alas, have joined that band of organisations whose utterances follow this pattern:

- The World is going to hell in a handbasket and we are all going to die.



- If you don't, well, WE have Raised Awareness, so it won't be OUR fault

Whereupon they bask in a sickeningly sanctimonious Holy Light of righteous disgust. For extra points, they'll install tiny little windmills on the roof of their houses that produce just enough energy for the laptop they use for blogging about it. Other symptoms include an inability to use SI-standard units, preferring instead such units as "Enough for X Households".

Ye gods, if we didn't have WWF, and there were no light, how dark it would be.

Vote now for the WORST movie EVER

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Re: Italian Job

Can't you SEE? The poor entertainment industry has been so depleted by evil pirates that they can no longer afford to think up stories for themselves, and they have to use the stories of old movies. They try to put a brave face on it by calling it "re-imagining", but unless we go out and buy these movies two or three times in various formats, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER ORIGINAL STORY AGAIN!

FCC (finally) cracks down on BLARING! TV! ADS!

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We got cable. We got a box that records the serials we watch. So an evening of brain shutdown starts at the list of recorded programs. Sometimes we watch programs at broadcast time, and we actually have to sit through the commercials. I swear, being able to fast-forward through the commercials, and to have bio-breaks whenever we want, THAT is the killer feature of recording cable boxes.

Brussels: Water cannot be sold as remedy for dehydration

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An ounce of prevention...

This is the European Food Safety Authority (or, yes, "Brussels" to the terminally lazy, even though they have offices all over Europe). One of their jobs is to verify the sometimes completely absurd claims that people make about their wonder food. So someone made a few claims about a bottle of water, most of which got approved, bar one.

Catch: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2075.htm

That's the claim that got rejected. What the "applicants" claimed was that regular intake of water "prevents" dehydration. Now in legalese and doctorese words have very specific meanings, and "prevents" is used in the context of vaccines or something that prevents you from getting a disease. We're definitely on *this* side of the looking glass here, and words don't mean what you want them to mean.

Now no matter how regularly I drink my 2L of water usually, it won't keep me from getting dehydrated next week if I don't keep up the water habit, where, say, getting a flu shot now will protect me against flu for a long time.

So the lusers here are the water peddlers. They worded their claim wrong.

TL;DR: Whatever source you got that from, got it wrong.

Too rude for the road: DVLA hot list of banned numberplates

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You English are rude...

I think I should mention that where you brits require four letters to refer to man- or ladyparts, the Dutch require only three. Have I seen them proudly adorning cars? Why yes, yes I have.

Dell bundles Ubuntu Linux on PCs in China

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Thumb Up

Look folks...

I used to think in terms of "Microsoft tax" and all that, but actually a machine with Windows on it is cheaper than a clean one. This is because the crapware peddlers pay the OEM for the privilege of having their "first one's freeware" installed at birth. So they effectively pay the MS tax for me, and like as not knock a bit off the hardware price as well. I'm writing this from a lovely HP G56 the Windows install of which never saw the light of day. When offered all kinds of antivirus support and software support and extended warranty, I cheerfully, and politely, told them to fuck off, so no money haemorrhage through that route. I really no longer care about whether Dell pays MS or not.

That, by the way, is what all this Trusted/Treacherous computing is all about. They want to force you to use their crapware and keep you from replacing it with something decent.

All you need to do is bring a bootable USB key to the shop, and see if you can find all the devices you care about. (WiFi, Ethernet, webcam and what-have-you), because if something important is missing you're basically out of luck.

Gay-bashing cult plans picket of Steve Jobs funeral

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I've always wondered. Because gay men do not, actually, lie with mankind as they would lie with womankind. They lie with mankind as they would with *other* mankind. And of course, lesbian women don't lie with mankind at all.

Or am I now being too Bible literalist myself?

Don't bother with that degree, say IT pros

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I don't know what it is about IT

But we do seem to attract all the people who dropped out of other studies. And they do tend to be the kind of people who take "Ye Gods, I never knew you could do it like that," as a *compliment*.

Faster-than-light back with surprising CERN discovery

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Can't be true.

If it were, we'd see all kind of weird phenomena, like people who comment on articles *before* they've even read it.

Facebook suggests sharing everything all the time

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I keep repeating myself.

But in the interest of stating the blindingly obvious, again and again: Stuff you care about belongs on your own computer.

Oracle uncloaks 'speedier' MySQL installer for Windows

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I know exactly how SME IT works. They get a guy in to do it for them.

I only gave one example because I didn't care to give all of them. I only gave the command line example because it's easier and quicker than clicking your way through screen after screen of stupid questions. Even if you are a dedicated point-and-click fan, it's *still* easier to use the one that comes with the OS. Because that way, installing MySquirrel is no different from installing, say, Apache, and you only need to learn one way to install stuff on your system.

Unless of course you are stupid enough to use an OS that doesn't have a native package manager, or one that's so broken that anything someone can come up with is an improvement.

Mostor Astrakan

Speaking as a sysadmin...

Weheyy! Yet another method of getting crap on your servers. And this one, by the looks of it, requires a live Internet connection. I can just imagine the friendly little chats with the firewall people. You want to go for that expression on their faces that says: "Why do we even bother?"

Use the operating system tools, you miserable b*st*rds!

Oh, and on Linux, it's "sudo apt-get install mysql" done. Do you *really* think that making your customers click through several screens of happy cheery windows is more user friendly? This is a bloody database server! Your users are not your basic stockbrokers and clerks and receptionists, they are the greasy-haired crowds wearing the "sod off" T-shirts. They do not appreciate their time being wasted with more useless crap.

iLuv iPad 2 case and Bluetooth keyboard

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That picture looks...

Hauntingly familiar. As if I've seen something like it before. Something portable, with a keyboard... No. Damn, it's gone. It'll come to me. Wait.

Ah! A LAPTOP! Such as you can buy at your local PC Illiterates for half the price of a fondleslab.

Mind you, this doesn't look like it would actually stand up on your lap. Maybe someone can construct something with a hinge or something. Don't you LOVE innovation?

Copyright Kitemark plan flutters aloft

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To quote Mr. DNA:

"The foreman had explained that the accountant could go and boil his head and the accountant had explained to the foreman that the thing approaching him rapidly from his left was a knuckle sandwich."

They're trying to get Google to do their work for them and flag sites that someone, somewhere thinks is infringing someone's copyright in some way. The copyright police will then get on with suing the persons found guilty and profiting from the proceeds, citing google's authority.

I don't see why Google doesn't leap at the chance.


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The start of the program saw Murdoch Senior playing the "I'm too important to know this shit" game and his son spouting bullshit like an agricultural machine, trying like anything to deny that the whole spying and illegal wiretapping was nothing to do with them, honest, guv. It was about two three hundred lone rogue reporters, and being ripped to shreds for it.

And yet, we are now discussing whether Mrs. Murdoch used her right or her left hand to bitch-slap the git who tried to cream-pie Murdoch Sr.

Does anyone actually remember any of the bullshit coming from Murdoch Jr? Does anyone *mention* it in any discussion of yesterday's proceedings?

Well done, that man. If Rupert isn't paying him, he should be.

Ballmer begs partners to love Microsoft clouds

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Part of the problem...

Part of the problem is no doubt that the company who owns the disks that store your data will happily hand over the data on said disks to whoever asks nicely enough.

50 day lullaby of Lulzsec is over .. for now

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So the 50 days of lulz have finished.

Now they start doing it for the moniez?

Stand by for more big, windfarm-driven 'leccy price rises

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That particular article...

That particular run of articles was a welcome balance to all the ones that said, basically, "O My God We're All Going To Die."

Creationists are infiltrating US geology circles

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O great.

Creationist: "When you teach your religious belief that the Earth is million years old (and all the mountains would have been ground to dust in that time, so who are YOU calling stupid), then you must also teach the theories of those who believe that God did it just six thousand years ago! You must TEACH the CONTROVERSY!"

Rationalist: "But there is no controversy! We have scientific data! We have sound theories, verified, shot at, amended, bickered over, and finally agreed upon. Young Earth Creationists have the Bible, which is not a work of Geology! There IS NO CONTROVERSY."

Creationist: "Oh. Well, we'll bloody well walk into your labs and MAKE one!"

Yeah, that's going to go down well. Think *you* are being hard on Evolutionary theories, Mr. Creationist? You're nowhere near as vicious as an evolutionary scientist who smells traces of bias in some bit of data.

Microsoft loses Supreme patent fight over Word

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The Yiddish Word for this is...


Billionaire Zuckerberg kills to eat

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But people have always eaten people

What else is there to eat? If the ju-ju had meant us not to eat people, he would't have made us of meat! (Flanders & Swann, 'The reluctant cannibal').

For more details than anyone not in the food industry needs about slaughter and the treatment of food animals, Temple Grandin is the go-to woman: http://www.grandin.com/

Zuckerberg: Give me your children

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Big Brother


"Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man."

Hollywood to 'retell' Carrie

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Hollywood suits missing the entire point? Surely not?

Apparently, when Sir Terry Pratchett was negotiating a deal to have Reaper Man filmed in the US, he was told: "Yeah, nice script, but lose the skeleton."

That deal fell through, for some reason. Possibly Mr. Pratchett telling them that he was already filthy rich, and didn't need to have one of his books violated in that way.

Woz snubs Paul Allen, praises pea soup

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He's a Hacker.

Now I haven't read much about his other utterances, but going by this, he's a Hacker. A Tinkerer. A guy who will actually come up with useful ideas. He knows full well that people will independently come up with the same idea sometimes, and he doesn't mind. Perhaps someone else will get the details better, in which case he'll probably give them a nod and maybe do it the same way.

Geniuses are constantly feeding off each other's ideas - in music, in technology, in painting, sculpting. They're not ashamed of it and are happy to acknowledge each other's input. It's the idea that counts, not who came up with it first. That is one of the great things about Open Source.

And that is why the patent system must die. You simply cannot come up with the great ideas if at every turn you have to worry if someone out there is going to charge you huge sums of money because they wrote a few shoddy pieces of paper on something very tangentially to do with what you're trying to achieve.

Mummy, mummy, there's a nuclear monster!

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Since we seem to be numbering...

I've heard that Japanese has different numbers for big things and small things, as in "mitsu" being 3 (small). Hence Mitsubishi being "three (small) diamonds".

Groan moment: In the Metro, nice big fat letters: "Fukushima now seven, like Chernobyl!!!!" It's a bit like priorities on support calls, where lusers keep bleating at you to ESCALATE!!!! SO NOW YOU SODDING BASTARDS WILL FINALLY GET IT THAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING WHAT YOU CAN!!!"

Never mind that you were *already* doing what you could, only now, because of all this escalation crap, you've lost just a little more time.