* Posts by Palpy

714 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Nov 2014


Canonical: Flutter now 'the default choice for future desktop and mobile apps'


I give Canonical some credit --

-- for creating an exceptionally vigorous and popular (for Linux) branch on the Debian tree. Mint, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Zorin, Kodachi, Trisequel, etc. Snap application packaging, too, which at least occasionally keeps an install from dropping through the Earth's crust into dependency hell.

I never much liked the stock Ubuntu desktops. But perhaps -- as similarly mentioned about Stallman in another comment thread -- it takes a brainstorming organization to breach some barriers, while more staid and thoughtful ones consolidate and refine the new territory.

Maybe the Fluttery subject at hand will turn out to be a useful branch on the application development tree.

Or not.

We can't avoid it any longer. Here's a story about the NFT mania... aka someone bought a JPEG for $69m in Ether


Re: Commentard's previous point?

Of course I don't know exactly what the honorable commentard had in mind in referring to an unmade bed and a blank canvas. I ain't him. But both those things have been created and displayed as art in high-flying galleries. So has a urinal signed "R. Mutt" (1917, by Marcel Duchamp) (the original piece has gone missing, however). Another artist (Flanagan? Not sure) took a large bag to the shore, filled it with sand, and called it a work of art. Not to mention Joseph Bueys' work, "Explaining Art to a Dead Hare", which title exactly describes the artwork he performed.

It's been a long time since "Art" meant "something realistic and pretty that virtually everyone could agree about". Digital images are not "real" in the sense that you can't squash flies with them, as you can with an original Picasso painting. But then you could argue that a live performance of Petrushka isn't real either because once it's over all you have is the memory. (You could record it and then you have a digital copy of a work of art. Which is pretty much what we are already discussing.)

So to my mind, the only real news here is the method of copyrighting the work: the NFT thing. And, frankly, it seems to me a fillip -- a somewhat novel proof of provenance which has not had time to show its utility over the long haul. Proof of provenance is indeed a sticky wicket for art which has been around for a few centuries; some early works are assigned to long-dead artists based only on descriptions published long ago by an equally long-dead writer. Maybe NFT answers a need, I dunno. Maybe it's a bit of early '20s flash-n-glitter.

First Australia, maybe Europe, now America mulls effort to potentially make Google, Facebook pay for news


All the news that's (now) fit to FB

So if FB has to pay royalties for articles from reputable news sources, those which employ professional journalists who get fired if they lie and fabricate, then clearly the "news" on FB will come to be dominated by rumor, lies, and propaganda. Yay! It's a win! A win for the rude beast now slouching toward Bethlehem.

I'm not sure if the joke icon on this post is or is not, itself, a joke.

Zuck chucks Myanmar military out of Facebook and Instagram


re: "Problem is government"

Seems to me, osakajin, you're painting with a very broad brush and a very narrow viewpoint.

Non-government societies (tribal societies) are increasingly rare on Earth, but the evidence is that most such societies are violent and cruel in various ways. (Yes, historically the !Kung or San people are mostly peaceful. They're overbalanced by the Xingu, the Dani, the Apache, and so on.)

Thus: Your viewpoint is too narrow.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Yes, the above is 18th-century propaganda cloaked as political theory, but the concepts expressed have had an impact on US governance. Yes, the US government has many, many problems, as does the UK, France, and every other government on Earth. And yes, some governments in some situations have become irredeemably evil. Most, however, are just more or less flawed.

Thus: You paint with too broad a brush.

Bad government is a problem, but tribalism is almost always worse. (Classical theories of anarchy describe the most egalitarian, free, and completely unworkable forms of society ever, so don't bother.) Governments per se are not the problem. The problem is in us: that our human flaws are reflected and magnified in our social structures.

Atheists warn followers of unholy data leak, hint dark deeds may have tried to make it go away


Re: Category error? Hmmmm.

Consider that in the Judeo-Christian understanding God has acted directly upon the world, and continues to act directly upon the world. Acting directly on the world requires God to be as real as a fridge. If not so, if God (in the Judeo-Christian understanding) were as insubstantial as a thought, then He could not act in the real world any more than you can set a bush to burning just by thinking about it.



Re: Oh, what a lot of fun.

The TV set buried on Pluto is a good one. I always used a Barcalounger containing a Neanderthal skeleton, hidden in a crater on the far side of the moon. Yours is better.

OK, well, all of us know real things that exist only inside our heads: aesthetic values like beauty, for instance; emotions like anger. Fine.

Some of us know there is a difference between what exists in our heads and what exists in the world we share with everyone else: if you hit your neighbor with a rock it does real-world damage; if you hit him with an aesthetic sensibility it doesn't. (Maybe his feelings are hurt, but those are inside his head.)

Some of us appear to claim that religious faith -- a thing inside their head -- actually exists in the consensual world as a real thing, with real-world attributes like gods and miracles and heaven and hell.

Others of us would like to see some kind of real-world evidence of that. We might say, "If people measure the rate of radioactive decay in identical samples of U-235, it comes out the same in Tibet, the Vatican, and Tokyo. But if we ask religious believers in those places about their gods and religion, the answers come our very differently. That appears to be evidence that religious belief exists in peoples' minds, but has no referent -- no basis -- in consensual reality."

Fine. Think what you like. But the great difficulty for atheists is that many, many religious believers throughout history have insisted not only that their beliefs describe external reality, but that everybody should credit and obey the religious precepts which the believers hold. For example, in my country, Christian Reconstructionism has been attempting, with some successes, to turn the US into a theocracy (or perhaps a theonomic government, depending on how exact you want to be).

Think what you like. Don't expect me to act according to your thinks, though.


Incidentally, the idea that atheists are just as blinded by belief as religious believers is, I believe, something of a strawman. Atheists I know hold an empirical view of the world, and so the discovery of new evidence should always have the potential to change their beliefs. The agnostic says, "I dunno if there's a god or not", my kind of atheist says "I don't believe there is a real-world god because I've never seen one whit of evidence for one" -- the implication being that if suddenly there is real-world evidence, that non-belief could change.


An excursion: How did this whole belief in gods/afterlife/immortal souls get started, anyhow? I have, of course, a theory. Which has nothing to do with Anne Elk's theory on the brontosaurus. I deny that entirely. /Python

Dreaming whilst asleep is a human (probably mammalian) necessity for proper brain maintenance. In a society which has no understanding of this, dreams are mysterious: they seem real, and when in that place you can see and talk to dead people. Ergo, thinks the primitive, there is a real place where people -- or souls, or spirits -- live on even after they are dead. Dead in the waking, daylight world, that is. I think the misunderstanding of the dream state is the foundation of concepts like afterlife, heaven, and hell, and hence salvation, divine judgment, the mystical mechanism of Jesus' sacrifice for mankind's redemption, and so forth. All from a human misconception about dreaming.

I am fairly stupid and quite obtuse, so I also believe that many much more intelligent people than I have explored this idea. Any references from you well-read and sophisticated commentards?

Hero to Jezero: Perseverance, NASA's most advanced geologist rover, lands on Mars, beams back first pics


Re: Repulsive!

Oh, well said, well said! Er, well written. Well played. Well, well. Whatever.

But of course we should not be exploring anything extraterrestrial at all until Holy Capitalism has finished its subjugation of Earth, put all peons in chains, and convinced consumers that Egyptian cotton is edible when covered in chocolate.*

It was unrighteous feats such as this which got Galileo in hot water with God, ya know.


* Catch-22. Milo Minderbinder. Etc.

Apple iOS 14.5 will hide Safari users' IP addresses from Google's Safe Browsing


Re: Tor, DNSCrypt, etc.

Yes, Khaptain, but phones. On a PC I can run Linux from a non-persistent thumb drive and set up a signal chain that looks like ISP-->VPN-->Tor-->DNScrypt, then run locked-down Firefox on same. And I do, for casual browsing. But it seems to me that iPhones and manufacturer-standard Android phones are owned by Apple or manufacturer+Google, respectively, and not by the individual who bought the phone -- that is to say, the software on the phone records what its masters tell it to, and the user can't stop it.

But actually, I am iggnerant about phones. Enlightenment sought. Can a personal phone (not a burner) be made equivalently secure?

Oops: Google admits failing to wipe all Android apps with location-selling X-Mode SDK from its Play Store


Cell phone tracking... yep.

Apps are icing on the cake; the cake is intrinsic to cell phone use. Your cell phone pings to find the closest or strongest signal connection, even when it is turned off. Snowden explains the facts in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFns39RXPrU".

This info is retained by cell phone providers, and can be bought by interested parties. The NYT has had two large data dumps provided to it by whistleblowers (I guess their "source" could be described that way). An article on Feb 7 2021 details their findings.

"The data we were given showed what some in the tech industry might call a God-view vantage of that dark day [the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol]. It included about 100,000 location pings for thousands of smartphones, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol exactly when Trump supporters were storming the building."

"While there were no names or phone numbers in the data, we were once again able to connect dozens of devices to their owners, tying anonymous locations back to names, home addresses, social networks and phone numbers of people in attendance. In one instance, three members of a single family were tracked in the data."

NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/05/opinion/capitol-attack-cellphone-data.html.

Point being, bringing the ban-hammer down on apps which engage in surreptitious data-logging is a good thing. But don't kid yourself: unless you keep your cell phone in a Faraday cage when not using it, you are already tracked -- apps or no apps.

Robinhood plays Sheriff of Nottingham as it pauses GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry etc stock sales, gets sued


Re: Proper link to Kushner story


Financial Times. Paywalled, though.

What happens when the internet realizes the stock market is basically a casino? They go shopping at the Mall


Thank you.

That particular error gets damned tiresome. Have a beer.

Four cold calling marketing firms fined almost £500k by ICO


Scam call article, and ...

... vid from anti-scam white-hat.

NYT article on the scam industry.

"The Long Read" -- https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/magazine/scam-call-centers.html

Also, a link to a video posted by the "Jim Browning" anti-scammer mentioned in the NYT article: https://d.tube/#!/v/jimbrowning/zsgjr21a.

Beer for "Jim Browning".

Today's cold-call on my phone: "Your vehicle warranty is about to expire..." Sigh.

Firefox 85 crumbles cache-abusing supercookies with potent partitioning powers


Re: "Fine on Arch as well."

I was poised to -Syu but thought, mmm, maybe extend an info-gathering antenna tentatively first. No need! Thank, Chubango.

Fedora's Chromium maintainer suggests switching to Firefox as Google yanks features in favour of Chrome


Re: Thanks

Firefox locked-down is my usual horse, but I'm glad to have a few other nags in the stable, so your info is welcome.


Do these changes in the API --

-- have downstream consequences for Brave, Opera, and other Chromium-based browsers? I use both Brave and Opera, but only for edge-case browsing, so I am quite ignorant whether they currently incorporate the features which Google is restricting.

We'll explore Titan with a methane submarine, a methane submarine, a methane submarine...


Navigating, for certain values of...

Mmmm, take a look at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's page on "Drifters and Floaters", https://www.whoi.edu/what-we-do/explore/instruments/instruments-floats-drifters.

Upshot: we already build autonomous mobile sondes and float 'em and drift 'em (with optional buoyancy control) in Earth's oceans. It could be that the final plans for the Titanic exploration (no relation!) will involve several small, lightweight, rugged drifters and floaters, so if one beaches itself the mission is not, well, on the beach.

With depressing predictability, FCC boss leaves office with a list of his deeds... and a giant middle finger to America


Re: Spam call-and-response

I take your point, AC. If I choose to respond aggressively I look on it as an acting exercise, that is, calling up the appearance of rage without actually abandoning myself to the feeling. That's interesting (to me) because my personality is quite controlled and somewhat introverted, and in this case I can play someone who is the opposite. And I get to improvise the character's dialogue, which is fun.

I'm also aware that the people manning these call centers are probably desperate for a job, and that while Social Security fraud is a crime in the US, the call center personnel in India or Pakistan or Sri Lanka, wherever, may not be criminally liable in their country. Not sure about that. But in a sense, attacking the peon at the other end of the signal is unfair. But, again, they're attempting to facilitate criminal fraud in the US. Choose a position, change it at will.

The Mariott Hotel scam is the one that I get most often. (It has nothing to do with Mariott International, that's just the hook.) I did try to speak to a rep politely once, but I didn't even get my first sentence out before the rep cut the connection. Useless.

I've wandered off-topic, and I'll stop now.


Re: Spam calls

Still getting spam calls -- yep, me too. Typically the pre-recorded spiel ends with "Press 2 if you want to be removed from the call list" -- which does nothing, as I get exactly the same spam with the same spiel next week.

Had a giggle the other day, got a spam call from "Social Security" and -- as it is a really a**hole act to target seniors in order to commit fraud -- I connected and then screamed at the Indo-subcontinent guy contracted to clinch the scam. The giggle was, he called me back! Said something like "You don't have to punch the number, you know". Of course I screamed insults at him a second time. And he called back again! He attempted a feeble insult, but of course he was probably in a call-center setting and couldn't be loud, so it was easy to ride over him and give him another dose.

I've never had a scammer call back once, let alone twice. Quite unexpected.

Kaspersky Lab autopsies evidence on SolarWinds hack


Re: What is going on

Fourth possibility: The Solarwinds hack was ripe, and had started to rot. FSB knew it, the Turla group knew it. It became effectively abandonware, useful as long as it lasted. The Kaspersky analysis was unimportant to the ongoing ops, since the hackers were moving on anyway. The follow-on hack, more subtle, has not yet been detected. Except perhaps by muted chuckling heard inside a locked FSB office somewhere in Moscow.

Facial recog biz denies its software identified 'antifa members' among mob that stormed Capitol Hill


@Jellied, re "...construct conspiracies out of half-truths."

Here's a rather long quote from the Patriot Action For America agenda, posted on the PAFA2021 website (archived) and linked from the Militia.me website.

"We the People are finished with government corruption at the hands of Democrats. January 16, 2021 we begin the process of exterminating the democrat ideology from America. This will be a broad reaching action, carried out in stages, across every state in the nation, targeting all Democrat politicians as well as the media sources, and, Technology companies that are paid to support and protect the democrat agenda. ... The estimated number of armed patriots needed for the PAFA2021 to move forward is approximately 15,000. This number would allow a force of 4,000 patriots per location in Washington, D.C., and establish road blocks at set locations to assist in maintaining order at the lock down points. At these roadblocks, patriot forces will also assist law enforcement in subduing any violence that may arise as a result of the PAFA2021. It needs to be reiterated that if at ANY point during the PAFA2021, patriot forces encounter physical attack or gun fire, that event will be classified as an initiation of war against America and will officially change the classification of the PAFA2021 to civil war."

"Exterminating the democrat ideology" by a "broad reaching action" targeting politicians, media sources, and tech companies doesn't really read like a conspiracy constructed "out of half-truths." It sounds a hell of a lot like just what the alt-right militias are conspiring to do. The plan -- for it is a plan, Jellied Eel -- escalates to civil war if the insurgents meet resistance.

Jellied, you might note the important keywords "exterminate" and "civil war".

I believe people who trivialize the very real aims of this insurgency are either complicit, or they are fools. I expect you, Jellied, are the latter. Please advise if you are complicit instead of just a fool.


Re: "The important point is that the facial recognition software did in fact..."

"...identify individuals who are openly on the left and support the use of violence. ANTIFA and BLM."

I assume you mean, identified such individuals inside the Capitol on Wednesday the 6th. Show proof. I believe you're lying.

On an alt-right forum (a .onion site) I read anecdotal claims about "three suspicious people" on a bus on the way to the sedition-fest, "someone with a black hoodie on the Capitol steps", and similar mushy claims. AFAIK, every rioter arrested so far for invading the Capitol is a hard-case Trump supporter,a QAnon nut, a Boogaloo Booger, a Proud Boy, etc. No libs, no BLM activists, no one with Antifa-style sympathies.

An interesting contrast between the anti-fascists and the alt-right militants: the anti-fascists leverage social media to identify and pressure the alt-right militants, while attempting to guard their own identities and networks. The alt-right wannabe revolutionaries boast about themselves in social network posts and videos, essentially outing themselves -- and their networks -- to whomever cares to look. You can bet the FBI is collecting those social media feeds, and probably has multiple informants in all of the most violence-prone groups.

It's sick, but it's humorous, too. ISIS and Al Qaeda ops working in hostile terrain use burner phones, communicate on paper or verbally, and organize small cells with obfuscated command connections. The Boogers and their ilk do the opposite. They have no insurgent spy-craft at all. They practically paint targets on their own chests.

It seems rather clear to me that the political-industrial-military complex inside the US is massive and ubiquitous. It's a juggernaut. It seems likewise clear that self-aggrandizing dolts who call attention to themselves will be ground to sausage-meat as soon as the Big Machine becomes sufficiently annoyed. Which is not to say the the murderous bastards will not destroy property and kill people (they killed 329 Americans between 1994 and July, 2020; Antifa-connected people killed one). But the Big Machine responds to threats against it, and if the alt-right inconvenience starts to look like real danger, the political-industrial-military complex will take them out. The Boogers and their wanna-be revolutionary fellow-travelers are making it very, very easy for that to happen.

Loser Trump is no longer useful to Twitter, entire account deleted over fears he'll whip up more mayhem


Re: Oh hell, must back down

VOX writers Alex Ward and Jennifer Williams wrote that if Trump gave the order to launch, "he could not be overruled." In a slight modification, they also wrote "[Admiral Charles A.] Richard, the Stratcom commander, could also refuse to carry out the order if he felt it was illegal. But if he did so, Trump could just fire him and replace him with someone who would carry it out."

So my first comment was somewhat off-base: "the generals" can advise, but except for the Stratcom commander, none of them can actually overrule him. I wuz mostly wrong, with just a little right mixed in.

Full article: https://www.vox.com/22220989/trump-nuclear-codes-pelosi-impeachment


Re: "No one can legally disobey the C in C":

"...no one has the power to legally disobey or not carry out any orders that he [the Commander in Chief] gives."

Sorry, that's wrong.

From a website on military careers, referencing Articles 90 - 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

"These articles require the obedience of LAWFUL (sic) orders. Not only should an unlawful order not be obeyed, obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders."

Essentially, this disallows military personnel from using "I was only following orders" to defend against allegations of criminal behavior.

If Trump as Commander-in-Chief issues an order which military personnel believe is unlawful, disobeying the order is not only allowed, it is mandatory. In practice, an order to launch nuclear weapons would be evaluated at the highest level of the military -- the generals, not the pilots -- and it would be evaluated very quickly. My guess is that the generals would refuse to allow the command to go forward unless they had very very clear evidence that there was a real attack on the US underway.

Yes, Microsoft Access was a recalcitrant beast, but the first step is to turn the computer on


Re: Jeebus. Not even Clorox --

-- fades those memories.

Similarly, in the mid-Nineties the IT at the utility at which I worked informed my work section that, as we were leaving Lotus 1-2-3 behind and slipping into Microsoft's bed, they would not be building an interface for our lab and field data. Ya, uh-huh, hello Access. In the hands of motivated but ignorant industrial operators.

Oh, we knew the Access thing we spawned was a mess. Every few years my manager would send out a Request For Proposal to purchase a professionally-programmed package, and every time the price tag sent the entire staff into black despair just short of mass suicide.

By the time I got my 30 years in, I had migrated a major area of data into an SQLite database with a .net front-end (may Cthulhu forgive me my many sins along the way), and the rest of the lab data had been shoehorned into a proprietary framework offered as a sideline by a chemical analysis company. It had to interface with the SQLite via a .csv export... See, I begin to shake even writing about it. The spaghetti architecture, the horror, the horror. Is this digital blood upon my hands??

I echo the advice of Will Godfrey: RETIRE! At once. Or find a position with a sensible firm.

Trump administration says Russia behind SolarWinds hack. Trump himself begs to differ


Re:Domain killswitch

FireEye identified a domain name which serves as a killswitch for the malware. I am unclear whether this is in fact checked by the initializing dll or whether this kills the malware in another stage of execution.

This from Krebs (https://krebsonsecurity.com/2020/12/malicious-domain-in-solarwinds-hack-turned-into-killswitch/ ):

"'SUNBURST is the malware that was distributed through SolarWinds software,' FireEye said in a statement shared with KrebsOnSecurity. 'As part of FireEye’s analysis of SUNBURST, we identified a killswitch that would prevent SUNBURST from continuing to operate.'”

Google Mail outage: Did you see that error message last night? Why the 'account does not exist' response is a worry


Re: Spamcatcher

Yes, probably wise. I moved to Proton a while back, but the old Gmail account still catches spam for me.

Here on the moist (very moist, this evening) northwest coast of That Continent Across The Pond, there have been portents of outages -- some messages to Gmail users have been undeliverable -- but only for a short period on Dec 15th.

US aviation regulator issues safety bulletins over flaws in software updates for Boeing 747, 777, 787 airliners


This: "...second-guessing the automation..."

If operators using the system have to fight the automation, then the automation is worse than useless: it is dangerous.

World+dog share in collective panic attack as Google slides off the face of the internet


Dec 15, 7 AM Pacific Standard...

...GMail was still glitchy on my machine. *shrug*

Ad blocking made Google throw its toys out of the pram – and now even more control is being taken from us


Re: Subscriptions: watch out for that.

My Dear One subscribed to the NYT online edition, then during cost-cutting a couple of months later she tried to unsubscribe. After multiple attempts and customer service line conversations ("We can't find an account under that name" but we're still billing your credit card every month), I had enough. I filed complaints in writing and online with, I think, five different agencies. And mailed paper copies to several of the top brass in the legal and subscriptions departments, plus the publisher, along with explanatory letters. Surprise! The NYT customer service people contacted us, canceled the "nonexistent" account and refunded us the fees they had charged us.

But beware a subscription with autopay, unless you truly believe you will never, never, never want to cancel it. Just sayin'.

Raven geniuses: Four-month-old corvids have similar cognitive abilities to great apes at same age, study finds


Re: We struggle [with non-human language]

Well, most of the time many of us struggle with non-human language. However, those who live with dogs can pick up quite a lot of dog language. Much of it, perhaps most of it, is non-verbal. Turning the head sideways can be an invitation to be friends, for instance (it cedes dominance, or, in friendly situations, agrees to ignore dominance). It's more emphatic if accompanied by a little shake of the body and a gentle "huff" or "hurgh" coughing sound.

To their great credit, many dogs can work through human's terrible accents (our heads are mounted upright instead of horizontally, we have no fur to emphasize the body-shake, and our vocalizations are only approximately doglike). I've had strange dogs come running at me in what appears to be pure joy if I manage the "be-friends" invitation well enough. I think the dogs are happy to hear a few words in their language, for once, even if my accent is atrocious.

For that matter, it's surprising to me how often cross-species play can occur. I once saw an elephant and a dromedary doing what must have been playing: they had each come to the fence which separated their enclosures, and the elephant had wrapped his/her trunk around the dromedary's neck, while the dromedary gently lipped (and slobbered copiously) on the elephant's trunk. The elephant wasn't squeezing, and the dromedary wasn't biting. How they communicated the "let's play" or "wanna socialize" invitation, I have no idea. Probably wouldn't happen if they met in the wild (highly unlikely), but I do remember a photo of a polar bear wrestling with a Husky dog. The cool thing about that was, it happened during the time when hungry bears congregate along the shoreline, waiting for ice to form so they can hunt seals. The dog was chained. The bear could have easily killed the dog and eaten it, but instead it chose play. And the dog somehow knew it, because instead of cowering at the end of its chain it played back.

Wow, I didn't think I had that much to say. Sorry about that.

Japan sticks the landing: Asteroid sample recovered from Hayabusa2 probe


Re: 10 years for more science, and --

-- Voyager, 40 years out, has detected new phenomena as well: electrons accelerated to near-light-speed by solar shockwaves. https://sciencecodex.com/voyager-spacecraft-detect-new-type-solar-electron-burst-662450.

Humans may be trashing our world so thoroughly that high civilization will no longer be possible, but Voyager is bound for the stars.

Trumpian politics continue as senators advance controversial Republican FCC commissioner nominee


Re: Trumpian appointments

I believe that the usage refers to the Trump administrations penchant for nominating people adamantly opposed to an agency's mission to head that very agency. This is probably not a new practice, but to my knowledge no other administration has used it so often or so blatantly. In this case, "deadlocking" the FCC by appointing another partisan Republican conservative neuters the FCC until Biden appoints Ajit Pai's replacement -- which, should the Republicans retain control of the Senate, could be blocked indefinitely.

"The FCC was once a body that prided itself on staying largely outside of day-to-day politics. But it has now become a firm part of the political battleground. It will mean the death of well-considered and productive policies – and that will cause far greater problems."

Mark Zuckerberg, 36, decides that having people on his website deny the deaths of six million Jews is a bad thing


"...Zuckerberg will preside --

-- over a boring, ever-shrinking website"

Oh, stop it, you're getting me all optimistic.

USA still hasn’t figured out details of WeChat ban but promises users won't be punished


The ban-hammer falls

News teaser: "The Trump administration will ban WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok from U.S. app stores starting Sunday night [September 20]". On November 12, some TikTok transactions will be banned "which TikTok said would amount to an effective ban." Source, Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tiktok-ban-exclusive/trump-to-block-u-s-downloads-of-tiktok-wechat-on-sunday-idUSKBN2691QO

Unless, of course, "ByteDance seals a deal with Oracle that addresses concerns about the security of its users’ data."

Iran's RampantKitten spy crew were snooping on expats and dissidents for six years



From Wikipedia (yes, low-hanging fruit): "A 2019 Independent Security Evaluators study described KeePass as well as other widely used password managers as being unable to control Windows 10's tendency to leave passwords in cleartext in RAM after they are displayed using Windows controlled GUI.[12] In addition, several github projects (KeeFarce, KeeThief, Lazanga) specifically attack a running KeePass to steal all data; when the host is compromised (sic). KeePass cannot prevent password theft [on a compromised system, they mean?] and 'neither KeePass nor any other password manager can magically run securely in a spyware-infected, insecure environment.'[13]"

12: Bednarek, Adrian. "Password Managers: Under the Hood of Secrets Management". Retrieved 2019-03-24.

13: Reichl, Dominik. "KeeFarce". Retrieved 2019-03-24.

Perhaps Da Rampant Kittens compromised the systems in question, then used publicly available software to attack a running instance of KeePass?

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars / But in our fscked-up compromised system."

Alibaba wants to get you off the PC upgrade treadmill and into its cloud


The "PC upgrade treadmill"? I didn't notice.

I have laptops, PCs, and Macs scattered about the house for various purposes -- streaming music, graphics-and-multimedia authoring, wife's yoga vids, yadda, yadda. They're all "old" by most standards, and a few of them are "obsolete", but all of them are fit for purpose -- the purpose I assign to them. (Even a 32-bit Toshiba laptop, which seems to be trying to outlast Stonehenge.) So for my user case, there is no "PC upgrade treadmill".

Of course, none of these older computers runs Windows. Depending on Microsoft anything is one way to glue your virtual feet to a very real upgrade treadmill. So I don't.

The current device is a what, a thinner-than-thin client? A brush-fire a kilometer-and-a-half from my house knocked out a fiber-optic line and broke my internet connection for several days. (Other people lost much more than that in the fire, including their lives, so I'm not complaining.) Alas, during that time I was only able to use my computers to record and edit music, work on graphic art projects, watch some movies from a thumb drive, consolidate budgeting-and-retirement spreadsheets, and do some writing.

-- Well, the point of the anecdote is obvious.

But hey, many people seem to be OK with ceding control of their devices and their software to corporations. Not so many on this forum, perhaps. Anyway, I doubt that this particular device will get much traction in the marketplace. But I have proven myself an unreliable prophet, so who knows.

Don't strain yourself, Zuck, only democracy at stake... Facebook makes half-hearted effort to flag election lies by President Trump


Re: On the tax returns...

Personally, I've always assumed that he will not release his tax returns because they would show (once shell companies and obfuscating banking records were worked through) that Trump owes hundreds of millions to Russian oligarchs.

Trump, like nearly all real estate developers, borrowed funding to execute projects... until 2006. That year the Trump Organization paid $12.6 million in cash for a Scottish estate. The cash purchases continued right up until his run for President in 2016.

Eric Trump claimed that the Trump Org had so much income it could accommodate these purchases, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. But is that so? In 2008, the Trump Organization defaulted on a $649 million loan from Deutschebank. If the organization's cash flow was so strong, why risk default?

Possible answer: because those cash purchases were not from Trump Org's finances, but from loans from Russia, laundered through Cayman Island LLCs and Israeli banks (or through any of a long list of locales friendly to shady banking). The money appeared as "cash" only because its origin was hidden.

Of course, in the Russian kleptocracy, Putin enjoys top spot. If Putin were to say "Заставь его вернуть деньги" -- "Make him pay back the money" -- then the Russian bankers would call in the loan, and a certain amount of sh*t would hit the American political fan.

Which explains not only why Trump will not release his tax returns, but also why he treats Putin and Russia with such deference.

Trump's bright idea of kicking out foreign students unless unis resume in-person classes stuns tech, science world


Re: Trump, 3-term president

Oh, these discussions are great fun -- they bring out the crazy in most of us.

IMHO, give current polls, the only way Trump stays in office is this: declare national emergency, suspend the Constitution, dismiss Congress, and use the military to enforce a dictatorship. That's the way it's done elsewhere, historically.

The US military have kept a stiff upper about working with him, but behind the scenes he's burned a lot of bridges with the generals. Right from the start, when he told them the US military "no longer knows how to win", and following up with stuff like pardoning a convicted war criminal, attempting to pull out of Syria (quite a surprise to the generals), letting Russia pay bounties for death of US soldiers and not doing puck-all about it, and so on.

If he tried the military coup route, I suspect the military would gently escort him off the White House grounds forever.

So as it stands now, the worst president in US history has no reasonable way to stay in power. I'm sure these thoughts will be anathema to those on the forum of the far-right bent, but so what? It's all good clean fun here.

Another anti-immigrant rant goes viral in America – and this time it's by a British, er, immigrant tech CEO


Re: Children aren't born to hate

But there is an innate recognition of "Us" and "Them" which can be triggered by skin color. Dr. Robert Sapolsky, in his book "Behave", page 85:

"Our brains are incredibly attuned to skin color. ... By one hundred milliseconds [after seeing a face], brain function already differs in two depressing ways, depending on the race of the face (as shown by neuro-imaging). First, in a widely replicated finding, the amygdala activates. [nb: the amygdala is involved in fear, anger, and recognizing threats.] Moreover, the more racist someone is in an implicit test of race bias, the more activation there is. ... So if whites see a black face shown at a subliminal speed, the amygdala activates."

In other words, whether our skins are pinkish-beige or brownish, Homo sapiens innately label a face as "Us" or "Them" before we even consciously recognize that we have seen a face.

To continue (on page 86):

"Our attunement to race is shown in another way, too. Show a video of someone's hand being poked with a needle, and subjects have an 'isomorphic sensorimoter' response -- hands tense in empathy. Among both whites and blacks, the response is blunted for other-race hands; the more the implicit racism [as determined by tests of race bias], the more blunting."

Neurology is not destiny, however. Sapolsky later notes that neuro-imaging shows that once the consciousness recognizes that it has seen a face, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) can moderate the activity of the amygdala (and the fusiform face area, which is also involved in face recognition). Essentially, the PFC can "outvote" that initial "Us-or-Them" response, turning a Them into an Us.

It's shown in the commonsense observation that to a racist, "all Pakis are rotten, well, except the kebab guy on the corner, who is a good chap". It's individuation: a particular Them is turned into an Us when he or she becomes an individual who is not just "pretty much like Us" but actually is "an Us".

How that feels: I'm pinkish-beige, and I live in an overwhelmingly pinkish community. I was in a convenience store waiting for a friend to show up. There was a dark-brown man kind of uneasily wandering around looking at things. Shoplifter? Vagrant looking to score? -- to my eternal discredit, I was suspicious. Then I remembered seeing a young brownish-beige kid go into the restroom earlier. Oh! The guy is a father, and he's probably wondering if he should go and help his son, or whether it's time to let the child handle whatever is keeping him in the restroom. That fast, the man became an Us. (We ended up having a pleasant conversation about the trip his family was taking, and various other topics. And his 5-year-old finally came out of the restroom and everything was fine.)

Perhaps, and this is my own speculation, people who have very low indices of racism have internalized this mental behavior. They habitually bring their PFC to overrule the innate "Us-or-Them" reaction, and immediately individuate almost everyone as an Us. But I dunno; I ain't no neuropsychologist.

Sapolsky's book is damned good, IMHO. Much food for deep thought.

'Google cannot stop it, control it or curtail it...' Inside the murky world of fake addiction treatment center search spam


User-generated content.

Letting users add whatever sh*t they want to GMB or GMaps is a great way to get a huge amount of data onto the platform, as long as one recognizes that much of the data will be a scam, a joke, or just plain stupid. (The tiny mining town of Empire, Nevada, USA, has a miniscule airport; on GMaps the airport is linked to a beautiful photo of Kowloon Bay at night. I do not know if the person who posted the photo, Stephen KY Hung, is making a joke or if he is simply clueless. In this case, I doubt that it is a scam.)

Of course, dumb-squat stuff like a misplaced photo is pretty harmless. It's more annoying when a road marked on GMaps is simply not there on the ground. But money-stealing scams as described in the article to hand lean toward (or simply are) criminal activity.

I can think of sites with user-generated content which are also efficiently user-curated; there may be errors but concerned users debate and correct misinformation pretty well. (No, not Wikipedia -- it can be and has been co-opted by misinformation. Wikipedia's system attempts accuracy, though.) And then there's Google, which appears to have what amounts to negative curating by users: users are enabled to easily add misinformation, but not to easily remove it.

But look, Alphabet is not in the business of public good, it's in business for the money. Expect corruption.

Facebook accused of trying to bypass GDPR, slurp domain owners' personal Whois info via an obscure process


Re: Because if the service is free YOU are the product --

-- but not always so.

https://www.xeno-canto.org/, user-contributed database of birdsong, worldwide. Free information service, supported by a foundation.

https://manjaro.org/, Manjaro Linux. Well, we all know that Linux is a socialistical plot (</joke>) but, nontheless, Manjaro is a free, stringless service.

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=36.4571&lon=-116.8662#.XvJkhc-YU3w, NOAA forecast page for Furnace Creek, California, USA. Government agency, therefore tax-supported, but a free service whether you pay taxes or no.

I completely agree that Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Zoom, and hundreds of other playahs big and tiny offer craptastic "services" with the sole aim of scraping as much personal data, by means fair and foul, as it is possible for such info-pirates to seize.

But let's offer a small hand-wave to the many websites which actually do give users value, and do not suck their brains out. (Was it in Starship Troopers that a gigantic squishy bug literally sucked the brains out of one of the human protagonists? Now, that's what to visualize when you read the name "Mark Zuckerberg".)

OOP there it is: You'd think JavaScript's used more by devs than Java... but it's not – JetBrains survey


Re: IDEs? I've heard of them...

I did use a JetBrains IDE awhile back, I think it was PyCharm (on Windows), and there was some particular reason for using it. Which I can no longer remember. Maybe it had to do with a specialized Python module for pulling OPC data. I wasn't crazy about the IDE itself. But that was donkey's years ago.

However, I throw my towel in with the crowd who find IDEs generally useful. Oh, might as well say it -- I throw in the towel, period.


Re: "...assumptions about the problem domain..."

I'd not thought about it in those terms, being under-educated, but I do now. Have an upvote.

Many large-scale industrial automation offerings (Siemens, Rockwell, Yokogawa, etc) include ladder logic, function block, sequence table, and script-based programming languages. (Seems like I'm forgetting one or two there.) Seen through your paradigm, the different languages on offer can be used to more efficiently solve different types of automation problems.

Ferinstance, back inna day, we had to interface a factory-programmed (no touchie, no touchie!) Win RT controller with a plant-wide automation system using a limited-bandwidth connection. Multiplexing the data propelled our staff into the scripting language provided by our master automation package; I'm sure we could have eventually handled the MUX using function blocks and sequence tables, but the scripting was a faster and cleaner solution in this case.

More to the topic at hand, a recent toy app I made uses Javascript for the interface (easy to use any of my home machines, running various OSes) and Python behind the scenes for some file operations. Fits well with the "problem domain built into [the language]" concept, I guess.

Legal complaint lodged with UK data watchdog over claims coronavirus Test and Trace programme flouts GDPR


Re: What to do if you're contact trace positive... Huh?

Reading over the comments from the three ACs above*, I must quote Captain Hastings: "Good Looord!"

If you know you have been exposed, you quarantine. That is a bit different from "minimize contact with other people", yes?

"That's a lag measure, it has nothing to do with prevention." Contact tracing has nothing to do with prevention! Oh, please stop, too much joke!

Contact tracing is all about preventing the spread of the disease. You might read up on the seminal contact tracing research, https://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/snowcricketarticle.html: John Snow traced infection by interviewing patients and plotted cases on a grid until he found the source. By removing the source of infection, he prevented the spread of cholera in the Broad Street neighborhood of London. Similarly, if we know who is carrying the SARS-CoV2 virus and who has been exposed, we can use that knowledge to prevent them spreading it to other people.

It's all about preventing the spread of disease, m'dear AC.

This is basic stuff. Freshman-level health class, though I suppose many people learn about it in grammar school. Obviously some people don't learn it, though.

"Science. It works, bitches": https://xkcd.com/54/

* Yeah, I suppose the three ACs are really one, and he's a troll. Oh well. Perhaps the masses really are ineducable...


Re: Wear the mask etc fixes the virus.

No it f*cking doesn't. Contact tracing is integral to controlling the spread and therefore the rate of infection. You write that health organizations "waste time" telling people that they have been in contact with a known carrier when, parsed scientifically, contact tracing saves lives.

Can 'ee no unnerstan, laddy? It were demonstrated far back in epidemiological history, y'know. Track the carriers, and you track the epidemic.

Now, there is a huge and obvious conflict between privacy and contact tracing. As huge and obvious as the nose on me face, which nose is in fact the size of that of the honorable Throat-Warbler-Mangrove. It really is a knotty problem, identifying disease carriers and tracking those they have been in significant contact with. Huge privacy problem. Huge invasion of privacy.

So sorry. No easy solution is conceivable. Not to my limited intelligence, anyway. At the same time, I see the importance of making privacy safeguards absolute and inviolable. F*cksocks.

No acceptable answer possible.

And that said, so many people are so much smarter than I am that I suspect some very bright spark will figure out how to mesh privacy and contact tracing in an acceptable manner. I wait.

No more installing Microsoft's Chromium-centered Edge by hand: Windows 10 will do it for you automatically


Re: Hating on MS

Snake, I get it: Edge per se is a non-issue. As you say, it's just anodder Blink brwozer. Shipping an OS with a default browser is a non-issue; every OS I ever installed comes with a browser.

The issue is installing it and then making it impossible to uninstall. The issue is installing it on machines on which the user has already configured software to his/her liking. The issue is pulling cheeseball, stupid-arse tricks like hiding the version number.

(From Reg article: "The current version of Microsoft Edge will be hidden from UX surfaces in the OS – because people don't need to know such things. Also, Chromium Edge does not support uninstalling the update.")

The issue is Microsoft controlling the user's machine. I buy my machines with money; they belong to me. I control them.

The hate comes from Microsoft's track record: you WILL use Win 8 if you want a Window's machine, even though the interface breeds dung-flies. (That died fast, didn't it? Overstepped a bit, MS.) You WILL let MS download data from your machine. You WILL take this update even though it will bork your machine.

So: "You WILL install Edge, you WILL NOT uninstall it, and WE will manage your installation" is where the hate comes from. Simples.

**FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not run Windows much, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about. I do have a Windows grandpa-box, but Linux does everything I need at this point.


Re: @Zippy

You might try this: start your music playing ("Mothership Led Zep" is what I have on right now, something like an hour and a half of Robert Plant's best adenoidal screaming plus Page bowing his guitar strings with his nose, I love it) and then disable Javascript. To do that in one click, install the Javascript Toggle add-on. Poof. No more ads.

On my setup (Firefox), this does not stop the "want to continue listening" popup from YouTube. There's an extension to that too...


Microsoft announces official Windows package manager. 'Not a package manager' users snap back


Re: More than one distro?

Guilty of that, myself. Unconcerned about it, though. Manjaro, Mint, Ubuntu Studio, Q4OS, Kodachi. I think I have Parrot on a thumb drive somewhere too, and probably Puppy. Oh, and Qubes. Fergodsake.

Different GUIs, different repos, different -- well, strengths and weaknesses. Not all applications are available or up-to-date in all possible repos. You can (almost) always find a way to install or build an application in Arch or Debian or Slack, but how much time do you want to spend and how much trouble do you want to take?

Personally, I like variety. Keeps an old man young.

You know this Land of the Free thing, yeah? Well then, why allow the FBI to trawl through America's browsing history without a warrant?


But, but, but!

Putting Americans in prison is a money-making proposition! We can't allow the private-sector prison-services corporations to slow their incredible growth, you know. (Even in states where private corporations don't run the prisons, they still provide phone and commissary, at incredibly inflated prices.) Not to mention the economic benefits of slavery -- prison labor is used by big players like Walmart and McDonalds because convicts can be paid virtually nothing, as little as twenty-five cents a day. Therefore, despite having a larger percentage of its citizenry living in cages than any other country, Republicans will champion American freedom by freeing the FBI (and every other law-enforcement agency possible) to arrest as many poor people as they can. It's money, you see.

Land of the Free, my arse.