Archive for PEBKAC

WTAF, MSN?

So I’m waiting for a story to finish loading in the browser, and I spy this monstrosity on the status bar:

Not even gonna try to transcribe this

Geez. You’d think they were assigning URLs to individual molecules or something.

Tangentially: There used to be a WTAF-TV in Philadelphia, on channel 29. Today it’s WTXF-TV, and it’s owned by Fox.

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This could take a while

It is, however, delightfully devilish:

Wi-Fi in hell

(From The Obscure Gentlemen via Miss Cellania.)

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What’s the indifference?

Sometimes, the only answer that makes any sense is “Who gives a shit?”

How can I see what web hosting service a website is using? For example, if they’re using GoDaddy, Hostgator etc. I have issues with GoDaddy?

There is, I suspect, a nonzero chance that GoDaddy has issues with him.

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Google vs. Robocaller

Finally, something I can cheer Google for:

The [Google] Pixel 3 [phone] will be able to not only screen spam calls, but give you real-time transcriptions so that you can see what the spammer is saying as they say it (and promptly hang up).

The way it works: You tap the “screen call” button. Google Assistant lets the caller know you’re screening and then asks them for their name and the reason they’re calling, which gets fed back to you.

Downside: Verizon only, at first; price tag approaching four digits. Still, you have to hope this sort of thing catches on:

Hopefully all of this starts producing results sooner rather than later. An anecdote along these lines, courtesy of The Washington Post — this even affects Nobel Prize winners. Paul Romer, of New York University, recently learned he’s one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. That was after ignoring two phone calls, though, from people trying to reach him to tell him he’d won. He thought they were spam calls and didn’t answer them.

You really can’t blame him.

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Paint by numbers, sort of

Portrait of Edmond Belamy by an AI programYou probably don’t know Edmond de Belamy, the subject of this portrait. I certainly never heard of him. But he’s in the news because of this very portrait, and Christie’s, which sold the portrait at auction, listed it as follows:

Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy

generative Adversarial Network print, on canvas, 2018, signed with GAN model loss function in ink by the publisher, from a series of eleven unique images, published by Obvious Art, Paris, with original gilded wood frame S. 27½ x 27½ in (700 x 700 mm.)

In other words, this portrait of Belamy was created by an artificial intelligence:

The artwork was produced using an algorithm and a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th Centuries.

To generate the image, the algorithm compared its own work to those in the data set until it could not tell them apart.

The portrait is the first piece of AI art to go under the hammer at a major auction house. The sale attracted a significant amount of media attention.

And a fair chunk of change: Christie’s anticipated $7,000-$10,000; but the hammer came down at $432,500.

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Predictive search

Feel free to be suspicious:

So long as you don’t address them directly. (Once you do, they become magically deaf.)

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All using the same template

This is the Standard Web Page, 2018:

Don't all Web sites look like this now?

Well, I guess they could throw in some autostart video, but let’s not encourage them.

(Via American Digest.)

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Rules to live by

The developers of SQLite, an embeddable database that somehow does not require a full-fledged database engine, have adopted a new Code of Conduct. Or maybe not so new, since it dates to the sixth century Anno Domini:

Having been encouraged by clients to adopt a written code of conduct, the SQLite developers elected to govern their interactions with each other, with their clients, and with the larger SQLite user community in accordance with the “instruments of good works” from chapter 4 of The Rule of St. Benedict. This code of conduct has proven its mettle in thousands of diverse communities for over 1,500 years, and has served as a baseline for many civil law codes since the time of Charlemagne.

This rule is strict, and none are able to comply perfectly. Grace is readily granted for minor transgressions. All are encouraged to follow this rule closely, as in so doing they may expect to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. The entire rule is good and wholesome, and yet we make no enforcement of the more introspective aspects.

Everyone is free to use the SQLite source code, object code, and/or documentation regardless of their opinion of and adherence to this rule. SQLite has been and continues to be completely free to everyone, without precondition.

However, those who wish to participate in the SQLite community, either by commenting on the public mailing lists or by contributing patches or suggestions or in any other way, are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that honors the overarching spirit of the rule, even if they disagree with specific details. Polite and professional discussion is always welcomed, from anyone.

Smitty observed yesterday:

What also shouldn’t be surprising, but still is, that in the Age of Outrage some would start demanding we quit using some great code due to Ancient ThoughtCrime:

“Well, it looks like it may be time to stop using SQLite as it’s readily apparent that my kind is not welcome there,” sighed programmer James Hollingshead.

Oh, bless your heart James.

For five points and a trip to the Bonus Round: “Which is more overrated, diversity or inclusiveness?”

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You don’t ask much, do you?

He wants all this, and he doesn’t want to have to pay for it:

I’m seeking a free web host that allows sexual/adult content that has their support either as a forum/community, or a live chat. I seen a lot of unlimited hosts out there, but I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. I’m mainly looking for unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwith and doesn’t mind big sites/forums under their free hosting plans. Any suggestions? Reason is ’cause I’m trying to find a host to create a forum that will have IM chat pm system, and email notification system. The forum will be half sexual, and half non-sexual.

Not a chance in the world, Chuckie. Free hosts don’t have unlimited storage or unlimited bandwidth, and most of them don’t permit anything smutty. You’ll be fortunate to find a package like this for under $1000 a year.

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Minus Plus

It’s as good a time as any to call it a day:

Google plans to shutter its Google+ social network for consumers, citing its limited adoption with users. The tech giant announced the decision at the same time that it disclosed that the privacy of up to a half-million Google+ accounts could have been affected by a “bug.”

The company says it discovered and patched the issue in March but decided not to disclose it immediately. It said it had no evidence that any third-party developer was aware of the bug or had misused profile data.

Still, timing is everything:

“They were worried about the repercussions of coming forward with this information,” [Wall Street] Journal reporter Douglas MacMillan told NPR. “Earlier this year, right at the time they discovered this, the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach had just happened, there’s a lot of regulator scrutiny of Facebook and tech companies and how they’re handling data, and internally, they were worried about being pulled into this conversation in a bigger way.”

This is not the first social network Google has killed, either; Orkut, a service developed by a Google employee in his spare time, was put out of its misery in 2014.

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I demand that you support me

I was starting to feel sorry for this guy: Why do I get the error “Your browser does not recognise any of video formats available” ONLY ON YouTube and embeded videos + very few ads?

And then he blew it:

If i enter a video (through YT search for example) it might show it directly but not always.Also if i move to other video from that,i can see that one directly (exept music videos. I guess bc they are in “music” category) and i can also see the original video if i click back.

If i enter a video through google search,i also need to do this forward and back move to see it..It was fine until 1-2 weeks ago,then, over day, it suddenly stopped working.

I have windows XP and won’t change it for anything,i also have Firefox 42 and won’t change it,except maybe only some few numbers up,as i don’t like the latest design of it.

Why do i get this error and how do i fix it ?

Emphasis added to illustrate mindset. Time marches on; some will choose to keep up, and some will not.

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SYS 49152

Where 49152 = the number of ants dwelling in this abandoned Commodore 64C computer:

Were you told that these devices were cheaply made and fragile as a result?

(Via Fark.)

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Yo Bimmer!

We have learned over the years to address Siri or Alexa or, God help us, Google, directly by name. No big deal, right? Wait until you have to talk to a 2019 BMW 3-series:

Accessing certain functions and settings while keeping your hands on the wheel can be as easy as barking instructions at the car. BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, which debuts on this vehicle, is just like it sounds, responding to “Hey, BMW!” Your digital helper learns as it goes, and improves itself via OTA updates sent from the automaker.

“BMW,” read as three letters, takes up five syllables. (By comparison, “Ralph Waldo Emerson” is only six.) Not that I expect to own a ’19 3-series, but I do hope there are aliases available to shorten things up.

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Homing pigeons kidnapped

This is the next best — or next worst — thing:

It is an only in Silicon Valley kind of story, as police say high-tech thieves were caught stealing thousands of dollars worth of GPS tracking devices from a Santa Clara tech company.

“These devices kind of look like cell phone chargers, so they probably thought they had some kind of street value,” [said] Roambee Corporation Co-Founder Vidya Subramanian.

Subramanian is talking about the hundred or so GPS tracking devices that were stolen recently from the company’s Dela Cruz Avenue labs.

“The moment we realized they had a box of trackers, we went into recovery mode,” Subramanian said. “We notified the police and equipped them to track the devices, and in about 5 or 6 hours, it was done.”

This is not to say that the thieves went out of their way to make tracking difficult:

Before making off with about $18,000 worth of the devices, the thieves grabbed a beer out of the fridge and cut themselves in the process, leaving fingerprints and blood evidence.

Sheesh. Crooks these days have no pride.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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More artificial than intelligent

Even small, incremental changes, says Z, result in massive increases in complexity:

The company that started out as two people, but grew to one hundred people, is at least a thousand times more complex than when it started. Obviously, the small town that grew into a city seems infinitely more complex than when it started. Even your social circle can suddenly feel wildly complex if your circle of friends expands to include people outside your initial peer group. Complexity grows at a rate faster than the growth of the organization. That’s an iron rule of life.

The people working in artificial intelligence are running into this same problem. Replicating even the most mundane human task requires millions of lines of complex code. What we take for granted as humans is actually quite complex. For the same reason no one person can understand the complexity of their small town, the creators of AI cannot understand the complexity of their creations. Algorithms to handle one small task get unwieldy in a hurry once they are interfaced with other algorithms to handle other small tasks.

This is why the robot future is a lot further away than the futurists want to believe. The cost of labor to automate a warehouse is a grain of sand on the beach, compared to the cost and complexity of automating a highway. Just as important, the cost of maintaining it is orders of magnitude higher. As every business owner knows, just because something can be automated, the cost of doing so often outweighs the savings. Put another way, just because something can be done does not mean there is a reason to do it.

And even if there is a reason to do it, hidden costs inevitably emerge. It is an article of faith in the fast-food industry that an automated order-taker is ultimately less costly than giving some youngster $15 an hour.

Until the customer says “Hold the mayo.” Okay, you can do that. But suppose he wants an extra pickle too? As the number of choices goes up, the cost of handling them also goes up — only faster.

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Too old to understand tech

I hate when people say that. I was online when a lot of them were still on Similac.

So this is kind of a relief:

You damn betcha.

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Burglar seeks free tools

No mitigation for this gall: I want to remove DRM from Kindle, Adobe and Nook. Can anybody tell how do I remove that? Is there any free tool or do I have to pay for it?

Tsk, tsk.

(Multi-tsking. I don’t do a lot of it.)

This is why we have digital rights management in the first place: people with their hearts set on stealing stuff.

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I remain, yours sincerely

Rob Hoffman says he’s not giving up on social media just yet:

For now though I am staying put. This means that I have to put up with people’s political postings, rants, and sometimes absurd observations. For the most part, I am capable of scrolling past most of this tripe, and continue on my merry way. Sometimes though, and I always kick myself when I do this, I will be drawn in to a debate, and I have always without exception regretted it. I believe that at some time in the not too distant future, the very definition of the word stupid will be adjusted to mean, “Those who believe they can post something on social media and actually change somebody’s mind.” No matter how logical I believe my point to be, or no matter how racist and narrow-minded another individual or “virtual friend’s” post obviously appears to be, my argument always falls upon the deaf ears of those who simply don’t see the world the way I do … the poor devils.

And, well, there’s always your friend Tom:

You know, not for nothing, but there’s not a single bot on Myspace. Who would have thought that 2005 represented the good old days?

I mention purely in passing that 2005 was this site’s peak traffic year.

(Via Fark.)

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I have no mouth and I must vlog

Sanrio bestows a YouTube channel upon Hello Kitty:

Perhaps the most telling thing here is this block of fine print along the bottom of the outro screen: © ’73, ’76, ’13, ’18 SANRIO. Kitty is 45? This probably explains why I thought the voice actress was in her forties.

Addendum: In 1987, there existed something called Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater, with Kitty voiced by Tara Strong, who is, um, presently forty-five. I mention this because I’d typed “voice actress Hello Kitty” into Bing Images, and the first result was a later-than-1987 photo of Tara Strong, who was 12 back then. I have no idea who did the VA for this YT debut.

(Seen first by Fillyjonk.)

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You might look elsewhere for work

I don’t see this person getting any kind of Information Technology-type career, if you know what I mean:

What is coding and when do you know when an app need coding?

As someone said, this is the equivalent of asking “What is carpentry and when do you know when a house need [sic] carpentry?”

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BReachwood 4-5789

I keep my cell phone off during the workday, partly because I don’t want to be bothered, but mostly because my office is basically a Faraday cage in a trench, and if I can get a bar and a half, it’s damned near miraculous. On the way out the door, I was able to retrieve a text message from the wireless company, which was an SMS-sized version of this:

Out of an abundance of caution, we wanted to let you know about an incident that we recently handled that may have impacted some of your personal information.

On August 20, our cyber-security team discovered and shut down an unauthorized access to certain information, including yours, and we promptly reported it to authorities. None of your financial data (including credit card information) or social security numbers were involved, and no passwords were compromised. However, you should know that some of your personal information may have been exposed, which may have included one or more of the following: name, billing zip code, phone number, email address, account number and account type (prepaid or postpaid).

On the upside, they’ve proclaimed their willingness to talk to customers about it:

If you have questions about this incident or your account, please contact Customer Care at your convenience. If you are a T-Mobile customer, you can dial 611, use two-way messaging on MyT-Mobile.com, the T-Mobile App, or iMessage through Apple Business Chat. You can also request a call back or schedule a time for your Team of Experts to call you through both the T-Mobile App and MyT-Mobile.com. If you are a T-Mobile For Business or Metro PCS customer, just dial 611 from your mobile phone.

Still, that’s a hell of a thing to find out on a Friday afternoon, while I’m gliding my way into Don’t-Give-A-Flip Mode.

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Ancient smut

Pornography certainly existed online in the 1980s, but most of us didn’t even have a pornograph. We did, however, have bulletin-board systems and near-infinite patience, which is how I scored this particular 8-bit “photo” about thirty years ago. (Don’t even think of trying that phone number.)

Random semi-smutty graphic from the 1980s

I have one other picture in this, um, series. Its focus is, shall we say, similar.

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Tribe drops the ball

From yesterday afternoon:

A few hours later:

Things happen, guys. Don’t worry about it.

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You’re gonna love digital

This is quantitatively better for the moviegoer than a film breaking in midreel — how, exactly?

Perhaps fortunately for our ears, Eadweard Muybridge was not available for comment.

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Bless you, Darcy

I mean, it wasn’t obvious what they were asking for, was it?

Please confirm your email address

Oh. Never mind.

(From Pleated-Jeans via Miss Cellania.)

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Frozen out of their files

Well, not literally, but the effect is the same:

Municipal employees in the suburbs of Anchorage, Alaska, have had to revert to typewriters to accomplish some tasks since some government systems were taken down by a sophisticated malware cocktail last week.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has been dealing with the aftermath of the cyberattack since July 24, when malware was detected on several internal servers. The FBI’s Cyber Crime division is investigating the incident, along with a similar hack reported in the neighboring city of Valdez.

How badly was Mat-Su hit?

Nearly 500 of the borough’s Windows computers and 120 of its 150 servers were encrypted, locking out government staff from their email accounts, phone network and their backup and disaster-recovery systems. Even the card-swipe mechanism borough employees use to lock and unlock doors at borough buildings was encrypted, though the doors themselves continued to work.

The original infection was most likely delivered through a phishing link in an email to a borough employee.

How many times do we have to tell you not to click on that stuff?

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Aw, shuddup and do yer job

Friday a friend of mine received a notification from his Smart Thermostat:

Alert! Loss of Cooling

Your cooling equipment is not adequately cooling your home, and the temperature inside your house is at least 5 degrees higher than your thermostat temperature setting. This problem can be caused by the following:

  • A door or window may be open
  • Power to your cooling equipment may be lost
  • Your cooling equipment may not be working properly

Evidently beyond the gizmo’s ken was the actual cause of the situation: it was 109 degrees Fahrenheit outside, tying a record for the date, and only four degrees short of the all-time — well, since 1891 anyway — record for this town.

In my own house, with classic/antiquated (choose one) equipment, the gap was 9 degrees.

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Amateur blackmailer wants help

No other way to explain it: How can I make a time bomb that will delete system32?

Get a load of this:

Hello. I have been grinding for two months at this company where I’m summer working to earn a slight amount of money before university year starts again.

Problem is, I haven’t even been offered a contract. Whenever I ask to be offered one, I’m told to wait for the manager to come, but she doesn’t come.

I’m familar with programming. If someone can give the code to a batch file, that will delete C:\Windows\system32, in 7 hours, if a password isn’t typed in before the deadline. This way I can propose one last time for a contract, if none given I will launch the .bat and make it affect the network (all of the wired desktops).

What I have typed so far is:

@echo off
del C:\Windows\system32

If someone can add to this program to make it irreversible upon launch and affect all IPs within the network, that would be much appreciated, because companies who have people working without payment, they should pay heavily.

P.S: The reason why I can’t do it myself, is because I’m only an engineering student, so I am familiar with programming (in C only), but don’t have the knowledge to do it myself.

Thank you.

This is the very definition of a cybercrime, and he’s probably not going to have much time to study engineering in the Big House.

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As floppy as we wanna be

Thirty years or so ago, I was working with these artifacts:

8-inch floppy disk from NEC

The very first eight-inch floppies were read-only; IBM used them to distribute microcode. But demand grew for a version you could write on, and these were the disks we used to load stuff onto — and, rarely, retrieve stuff from — our gargantuan System/36, about the size of a Whirlpool washer-dryer combo of those days.

A double-sided diskette with 256 bytes per sector could store 985,088 bytes, or about four copies — click for it — of the full-sized photographic image. Our needs were greater, and IBM had rigged up a 10-disk magazine which could be operated as a unit of nearly 10 MB. If this sounds feeble, well, the system DASD (hard drive) was only 200 MB in those days. (And today, we’ve used up about two-thirds of a 1.5-terabyte disk array. Data isn’t shrinking.)

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I want it my way

“Is there a way to mimic the Google Search Engine layout with another search engine?” asks this joker.

Why would you want that?

I cannot ever find the information I am looking for with the vast amount of bias that Google puts in the search results. I want to switch to something more apolitical such as DuckDuckGo that provides results based on web traffic rather than political leanings, but being that I grew up using Google I can t stand the layout on any other search engine and am wondering if there s some sort of pseudo-Google extension for Chrome or anything that could fix the layout.

After twelve years of looking at people’s search strings, I submit that the guy’s real issue is that he’s too goddamn dumb to put together an efficient search.

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