Archive for PEBKAC

Don’t quote me

Is this guy unemployed, or what? How do I make my twitter not pop up in google search results of my name?

Justification offered:

I want it to be there if people know my first and last name and want to search me but not have random things I’ve said over the last nine years pop up in a google search.

Gormless dweeb. I disavow nothing I’ve said on Twitter in ten years, random or not.

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Subtitle wave

Another one of those SEO charlatans hits the spam bucket with a pitch of surpassing dubiousness:

How would you like to Upload A SINGLE Video And RANK for 100 LANGUAGES !!!


ONLY 25% of the searches made online are in ENGLISH! And yet everybody focuses on trying to rank in ENGLISH!

YouTube is the 2nd BIGGEST website in the world … And still you focus all your efforts trying to rank and get traffic ONLY from Google!


With Over 3 Billion Searches A Month … All the visitors that you will ever need ARE ALREADY ON YOUTUBE!

3 billion searches a month. 5% are not in English … Do the math … 2.2 billion searches each month in foreign languages!

Are you getting an idea on how much money you are leaving on the TABLE?

Almost everyone I know would rather read something than watch an incomprehensible video. But you can’t go thinking like that; why, it might affect your income somehow.

Every last one of these 21st-century phrenologists needs to be busted for illicit vending of reptile-based lubricants.

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Space saved

In this morning’s Oklahoman, page A6:

Lesson Six: Chinese-Korean fusion

I think this is the only time I’ve ever seen a URL shortener pressed into print use. (This is where it goes.)

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One step beyond the fidget spinner

The pitch:

PowerSchool is the leading #EdTech provider serving more than 45 million students in over 70 countries.

An observation from an actual teacher of my acquaintance:

Parents of students under 16: Take the damn PowerSchool app off your kids’ phones. All they do is wait for the next notification to hit their phone or watch once a grade is posted. Instant gratification for either less and less effort, or your kid is going through massive anxiety 24/7. I just entered a grade of 93. Kid dropped to a 96. Got an email from an upset kid within five seconds.

Sorry. It’s annoying as hell how the technology is clearly correlating with less effort or higher anxiety levels. Some kids even say “as long as I’m not flunking it’s all good.” Or, “OMG OMG I dropped from an A+ to an A!! I’m having palpitations!!”

It’s probably a good thing we didn’t have stuff like that when I was a schoolboy.

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The search science is settled

I mean, who’s gonna argue with Google?

Suggestions for Politicians With

Certainly not I.

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Quixote dot whatever

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you — well, certainly once, anyway. You don’t have to believe me, of course, but then you find yourself mired in puzzles like this:

Will this wordpress theme allow me to make money?

This is the theme in question. And this is what he did with it.

This is really getting to me, and I really don’t want to continue writing on this theme unless I know I can make money in the future.

I want to start posting so bad, but I don’t want it to go to waste. Has anyone else made any type of money with this type of theme? Do you think I should switch to a different theme now before I really start pushing out articles?

Someone told him what I would have told him — the theme doesn’t mean squat — but it’s at the top of his worries:

I understand that quality content and SEO is the biggest part of it. That’s why I dont mention it in my question, because that’s not what I am worried about…

Just wait until he figures out that “quality content” and search-engine optimization are mutually contradictory. Ask the guy who’s been doing this sort of thing for more than two decades:

Any professed SEO expert is going to tell you that you need this, a heap of that, several of those, and just a pinch of spice for Google to rank you. Well, Google isn’t going to rank you: they’re wise to all these schemes, and once they find out you’ve been spinning articles — copying stuff you find, sending it through some sort of verbal Cuisinart to make it look less like a copy, and then claiming it for your own — they’re going to bury you nine hundred pages down, where you belong. If it’s important to you to get on Google’s front page, send them a check. It’s legal, it doesn’t require you to steal anything from anyone, and it’s amazingly effective. “But I shouldn’t have to do that,” you cry. Yes, you should. There has never been a free lunch, and you’re not going to get one in blogdom.

But Mr Moody here isn’t about to give Google any money. He’s still evidently pissed at having to put out $59 for a copy of this theme.

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Pronounced “jay-peg”

The picture you saw in the previous post was hoovered up from one of Gerard Van der Leun’s omnibus posts. In that capacity, it occupied something like 56,349 bytes, fairly modest for a JPEG these days. It was also a hair too wide for this format, so I trimmed it back to 480 x 584, which came to 44,386 bytes. Looked okay, but maybe too much white space. A little off the sides, a slight bit of resizing, and the final version was 480 x 577 — and somehow, still, 44,386 bytes.

Now nothing in the JPEG spec says that a smaller version has to occupy less disk space; but nothing prepares you for the smaller version that occupies exactly the same disk space.

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This would never work for me

Or for most people, I suspect:

Doesn’t mean they can’t get even dumber, though.

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As the customers are blown off

I have never had a whole lot of use for TurboTax, although it must be disclosed up front that 40-odd years ago, I was a seasonal worker at present-day archrival H&R Block. But I never quite suspected Intuit, publisher of TurboTax, of pulling a stunt at this level:

This week, we reported on how TurboTax uses deceptive design and misleading advertising to trick lower-income Americans into paying to file their taxes, even though they are eligible to do it for free.

There’s a new wrinkle: It turns out, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, is deliberately hiding the truly free edition — TurboTax Free File — from Google Search.

Intuit has done that by adding code on its site telling Google and other search engines not to list TurboTax Free File in search results.

Does this require some arcane knowledge of coding? Ha. Also, ha:

The code in question, which can be found in a file called robots.txt or in an HTML tag, has to be actively added to a site, as Intuit has done. It is typically used on pages that designers want to hide from the open internet, such as those that are for internal use only. Without that code, Google and other search engines default to adding a site to their search results.

My own robots.txt file, should you be interested, blocks indexing of graphics and WordPress components, but nothing else.

There are, of course, ominous political rumblings:

Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that he plans to raise Intuit’s misleading marketing with the IRS. “Intuit’s tactics to reduce access to the Free File program and confuse taxpayers are outrageous,” he said.

As if tax returns themselves aren’t confusing enough already.

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Buy this man a beer

Any beer he wants. Several of them, in fact:

So I’m in the process of transitioning computers, which means I have to again set my Web browser to stop bothering me when every last Web site wants to send me notifications.

This is a simple config change, but I did a quick Web search to ensure I set the correct preference name to false.

Which search led him to r/Firefox on Reddit, which then threw up the very “Allow notifications” box he, and I, find objectionable.

Not everyone, of course, uses Firefox. I am a convert to the Pale Moon browser, a fork from Mozilla from right before the time when feeping creaturism entirely devoured Firefox.

And it works there, too. From about:config:

Note to self: It’s dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Do the Boolean toggle, and buy a beer for Noggle.

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Allegedly smart

Some folks are just infatuated with the idea of Connected Appliances, each with an IP address. And then there are those of us who aren’t:

[W]hat’s next? IoT dishwashers, where you can remotely start them from your cell phone or some such? Not everything needs to be networked and I dare say fewer things need to be networked than actually are: my fridge right now (may it last several more years) is a dumbfridge and I don’t want a smart one; I don’t want one that tells me the eggs are within a week of going off or I need to buy more salad, because that feels like a short step from a fridge that says “Are you really sure you should be eating that, dear” when I stand in front of it late some evening squirting whipped cream from the can into my mouth.*

*Oh, don’t be judgey. I know at least SOME of you have done that.

I haven’t done that since I was, um, let’s say, 53.

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Freedom of gibberish

This starts out unreadable and gradually becomes more so: Looking for a site that allow free speech videos without have a ban?

That’s sort of comprehensible, but then:

Hi there, there is very concern about getting ban if a video is about free speech for being good reason but however not YouTube can, because they have cooperated with law enforcements that have someone access my information what it called invasion of privacy. I have aware of lawyers but I am asking everyone to help me. So is there another video sites? Not dailymotion, vimeo, twitch and youtube.

God forbid he should actually disclose the “good reason.” I’m betting he’s desperately in love with an eight-year-old and would not like to be thrown in jail.

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The bane of my existence

Apple’s trusty QuickTime Player has been my go-to application for MP4-encoded video for the longest time; I actually bought QuickTime Pro because it was so handy.

And through 2018, it worked. Now I’m getting this abomination:

An invalid public movie atom was found in the movie

Dig far enough into Apple’s developer material, and you’ll find this:

QuickTime movie atoms have an atom type of ‘moov’. These atoms act as a container for the information that describes a movie’s data. This information, or metadata, is stored in a number of different types of atoms. Generally speaking, only metadata is stored in a movie atom. Sample data for the movie, such as audio or video samples, are referenced in the movie atom, but are not contained in it.

The movie atom is essentially a container of other atoms. These atoms, taken together, describe the contents of a movie. At the highest level, movie atoms typically contain track atoms, which in turn contain media atoms. At the lowest level are the leaf atoms, which contain non-atom data, usually in the form of a table or a set of data elements. For example, a track atom contains an edit atom, which in turn contains an edit list atom, a leaf atom which contains data in the form of an edit list table.

And so on, and so on, and scooby-dooby-doo. Scroll down some more, and you hit this:

Note: Profile atoms are deprecated in the QuickTime file format. The information that follows is intended to document existing content containing profile atoms and should not be used for new development.

So far as Apple is concerned, QuickTime for Windows is dead:

Important: QuickTime 7 for Windows is no longer supported by Apple. New versions of Windows since 2009 have included support for the key media formats, such as H.264 and AAC, that QuickTime 7 enabled. All current Windows web browsers support video without the need for browser plug-ins.

And this is one of a handful of MP4s that QuickTime will no longer play, presumably because the codecs have outgrown it:

I have other things I can play it on, but QT Pro was the most intuitive editor I had.

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I don’t think this guy is working out

And he’s gone now, thank heaven:

An employee-from-hell has been jailed after he got fired (after a measly four weeks), ripped off a former colleague’s login, steamrolled through his former employer’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) accounts, and torched 23 servers.

The UK’s Thames Valley Police announced on Monday that 36-year-old Steffan Needham, of Bury, Greater Manchester, was jailed for two years at Reading Crown Court following a nine-day trial.

Needham pleaded not guilty to two charges of the Computer Misuse Act — one count of unauthorized access to computer material and one count of unauthorized modification of computer material — but was convicted in January 2019.

Oh, well, you can’t win them all.

As the Mirror reported during Needham’s January trial, the IT worker was sacked after a month of lousy performance working at a digital marketing and software company called Voova in 2016.

In the days after he got fired, Needham got busy: he used the stolen login credentials to get into the computer account of a former colleague — Andy “Speedy” Gonzalez — and then began fiddling with the account settings. Next, he began deleting Voova’s AWS servers.

The company lost big contracts with transport companies as a result. Police say that the wreckage caused an estimated loss of £500,000 (about $700,000 at the time). The company reportedly was never able to claw back the deleted data.

Be honest, now: how many of you saw “Voova” and immediately thought of Bill Cosby’s “Noah” bit?

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Dumbest business plan ever

This bonehead has seen Minority Report at least once too often: How can I collect the email address before someone enters my site?

I’ll tell you what I told him:

Exactly the same way you’d get a girl to kiss you before you ever actually meet.

In other words, it will not, and cannot, ever happen.

Life gets complicated when you’re dumb as a post.

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Fault where fault is due

The only person I’ve ever blocked on Y!A is a tedious little crybaby who every two or three days horks up something like this:

Why do people give in easy and allow the powers that be to win?

for instance like all the recent changes that have happened on youtube, which are bad, which i hate … big corporate powers have taken over youtube and turned it into a politically correct corporate site.

yet, people are just accepting it and hiding away, they are not fighting back hard against the corporate tech companies but hiding away like rabbits … too many people online just going with the flow instead of kicking up an outrage like they should.

this, the way people are acting online is really angering me … why won’t people do something to save sites like youtube?

As is often the case with tedious little crybabies, he’s fixed the blame somewhere other than where it ought to be:

At first, I got angry that Youtube is imposing viewpoint discrimination on its users — but then I remembered, Youtube’s parent corporation, Google, does business all over the world, and has to try to satisfy the delicate sensibilities of everyone from effete European Union bureaucrats to vicious Iranian theocrats.

And it’s occurred to me that much of the free-wheeling dynamism of the internet we used to know and love has vanished precisely because of this globalization of authority. Unfortunately it has meant a trend toward forcing content generators in the world’s freest societies to be accountable to repressive police states despite never having come under their jurisdiction, nor ever planning to.

I suspect that our TLC here isn’t at all concerned with the suppression of ideas: what’s got his panties wadded is the possibility that he might have to start paying for music and movies. YouTube’s handling of copyright matters is fumbling at best, but its squashing of discussion is horribly efficient. Google is fine with this, of course; it’s consistent with their current corporate motto, “Don’t be even-handed.”

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Space considerations

You know, this kind of thing never happened when Tom was in charge:

Myspace has apparently lost most or all of the music files uploaded by its users before 2015, and it told users that the data was corrupted beyond repair during a server migration. Myspace apparently admitted the problem to concerned users seven or eight months ago, but so few people noticed that there wasn’t any news coverage until the past 24 hours.

Myspace, the once-mighty social networking site, has existed since 2003 but has been fading into obscurity for the past decade. Many musicians used to rely on Myspace to spread their music, and over the years it hosted 53 million songs from 14.2 million artists.

Some of Myspace’s loyal users noticed more than a year ago that they couldn’t play music or download music files and asked Myspace for answers. Myspace initially told those users that it would recover the lost data, but months later it admitted that the files were gone forever.

The last actual album I linked to on Myspace was Taylor Swift’s 1989, released in 2014. The album details are still on my deck, as it’s called, but the songs don’t play. I did find some actual photos from 2007. And a couple of my friends have since passed away, but I knew that already.

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Some whine with your video?

It grows increasingly difficult to put up with people like this:

I have a question that I think a lot of people want the answer to- how do you filter and/or block certain content/users when it comes to the next video.being played? Like you ever just want to watch the actual uploaders content and not just some guys poorly edited compilation video? It never fails! Someone is always trying to make it to where they tag their video in just the right way where their content gets autoplayed right after a nice video from the original person. Is no one else tired of this? Always running into a compilation video made by some non-affiliated uploader who only does that for views? If so, know how to block or filter out these videos so they aren’t cued next up or showing in recommendations? Thank you.

The situation: Guy watches video he likes. Autoplay spools up another video, and to his everlasting horror, it’s one he doesn’t like.

Um, did it ever occur to you to turn off the goddamn autoplay? Of course it didn’t. And I don’t care half a heap of hyena droppings who’s “affiliated” with whom, because it doesn’t matter to more than a handful of people and never will. Clods like you should be forced to use text-based browsers like Lynx for the rest of your unnatural lives.

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You have been warned, and then some

We’ve all seen that little off-color bar that says “This site uses cookies” and then pitches a couple of platitudes. This one is a little different:

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and to analyze traffic. Your IP address and user-agent are shared with Google along with performance and security metrics to ensure quality of service, generate usage statistics, and to detect and address abuse.

Omigod, they’re … they’re … they’re using Google Analytics!

(Seen here.)

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Magical nonthinking

From the Quora queue: If I create an email address with a domain I do not own, can the owner of the domain do anything to my email?

There’s just one little hitch: you literally cannot create an email address with a domain you do not own. Oh, you could probably tell some credulous dulllard that it’s your email address, but saying so will absolutely not cause it to come into existence.

And that said, whatever stupid prank you might have been planning will not work either. If you’re really lucky, it won’t be actionable.

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You don’t want to see the router

This is actually a pretty good question: Does Hell have Wi-Fi?

One answerer said no, they still have dial-up, which is pretty close to my concept of hell, but I’d like to hear what you guys think.

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All Google-eyed

One could make a very strong case for disconnecting from Google completely — until one wanted to get some work done:

The simple truth is, if Google weren’t so damn evil, and if its current population of app designers weren’t so tunnel-visioned about features and user-experience (not to mention freedom of thought), they could make Skynet throw up its mechanical hands and give up on taking over the world. Even now, fully a decade into their slide into the Ninth Circle, their contact management service is still better than all of the competitors put together.

The late John D. Loudermilk was, in fact, available for comment:

Sounds kinda like a nine-eyed carp.

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Forget getting warranty service

Then again, they haven’t needed it yet:

Two HP servers sent up to the International Space Station in August 2017 as an experiment have still not come back to Earth, three months after their intended return.

Together, they make up the Spaceborne Computer, which operates on the open-source Linux system and has supercomputer processing power. They were sent up to see how durable they would be in space with minimum specialist treatment. After 530 days, they are still working.

Their return flight was postponed indefinitely, after a Russian rocket fail in October 2018. And HP senior content architect Adrian Kasbergen said they may return in June 2019 if there was space on a flight “but right now they haven’t got a ticket.”

Five hundred thirty days. Then again, that’s Linux. How long would they have lasted as Windows boxes?

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Chops undeservedly licked

There are people out there who will kill, or at least maim, to avoid paying for something: How to get free wifi from an unused router?

Get a whiff:

I have this old router but its not piad so when you connect it says connected no internet. How could I “hack” it to get free wifi?

I assume he means “paid” and not “plaid.” And nowhere does he appear to realize that a router can’t do anything unless it’s actually wired to the Net.

One person scolded him:

I don’t really think you know what you’re asking.

Wi-Fi is NOT Internet. Wi-Fi is a form of communication in computer networking. If you power on that Wi-Fi router, you’ll have Wi-Fi. It’ll be free, but you won’t have any Internet access. You have to pay your ISP in order to get Internet access. No amount of “hacking” will get you free Internet. And plus, trying to “hack” your ISP to get free Internet is illegal. And its obvious you don’t even know where to start “hacking”. ISPs aren’t dumb. They have a lot of systems in place to prevent you from obtaining free service.

Though scolding him won’t be anywhere near as heartwarming as scalding him.

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Or it might be just a test

The Russians have an experiment in mind:

Russia is considering whether to disconnect from the global internet briefly, as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally.

A draft law mandating technical changes needed to operate independently was introduced to its parliament last year. The test is expected to happen before 1 April but no exact date has been set.

What would motivate such a thing, anyway?

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russia’s ISPs to ensure that it can operate in the event of foreign powers acting to isolate the country online.

Nato and its allies have threatened to sanction Russia over the cyber-attacks and other online interference which it is regularly accused of instigating.

The measures outlined in the law include Russia building its own version of the net’s address system, known as DNS, so it can operate if links to these internationally-located servers are cut.

Seems legit. And few things are as valuable to the Net as redundancy; it makes damage easier to route around.

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Teardrops on your router

“Taylor Swift is the information security icon the world needs,” says the Grauniad:

The superstar has long spoken out about her desire to stay secure. More than a typical celebrity’s fondness for the sort of privacy that involves massive propertes to defeat the long paparazzi lenses, Swift has frequently shown a keen understanding of why — and how — digital security is important to her. In a Rolling Stone interview in 2014, she revealed that she kept the only full version of her forthcoming album, 1989, on her iPhone — and would only play it on headphones, for fear of wiretaps. “Don’t even get me started on wiretaps. It’s not a good thing for me to talk about socially. I freak out … I have to stop myself from thinking about how many aspects of technology I don’t understand.” The article continues: “‘Like speakers,’ she says. ‘Speakers put sound out … so can’t they take sound in? Or’ — she holds up her cellphone — ‘they can turn this on, right? I’m just saying. We don’t even know.'”

Sound familiar? It’s only Swift more or less predicting this week’s iPhone “hellbug” that briefly let anyone with your phone number call you on FaceTime and listen in via your phone’s mic before you picked up, without your knowledge or consent. Maybe we should have listened closer.

I have long believed that Swift knows more about this stuff than she’s willing to let on. Perhaps the first giveaway was in the “Blank Space” video, in which she slings a pricey cell phone into the water. But not just any pricey cell phone, no: it’s a Samsung Galaxy S5. Waterproof.

And just incidentally:

Swift’s extreme caution has even led to the creation of a Twitter fan account, SwiftOnSecurity. It is genuinely the most informative cybersecurity resource on the internet.

A staple of the weekly search-strings tour is a request for the “real identity” of @SwiftOnSecurity. Here’s the deal: until I have some compelling reason to think otherwise, I’m going to assume it’s actually Taylor Swift. Sometimes hiding is best done in plain sight.

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Toil, interrupted

It was Monday night, I’d just finished the last Tuesday post, and suddenly, panic ensued.

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Welcome to 1999

None of that fancy-schmancy infotainment equipment for you, Mr. Jag Buyer:

It looks as if certain 2019 model year Jaguar E-Pace crossovers have left the factory improperly equipped. Back in November, an owner created an account on the EPaceForum to share their experience. According to the posting, the E-Pace arrived with some features missing. Functions like navigation, WiFi, live weather and sports updates, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto were all absent.

Software update, right? Wrong:

The poster said they were swiftly contacted by Jaguar Land Rover and their dealer, only to be told what they already knew: that their vehicle left the factory missing the “InControl Pack and Smart Settings” that make these systems functional.

Worse still, JLR said nothing could be done about it.

No, really, they said that:

“A small quantity of cars left the UK without the Connect Pro Pack — this includes functionality for features like InControl Pro Services, WiFi HotSpot and Smart Settings — which are required for Apple Car Play and Android Auto to function correctly,” a JLR spokesperson explained. “Adding this pack is not something that can be retrofitted, so the decision has been made to proactively communicate this to potential buyers (of vehicles at retailers) and offer a $600 credit in lieu of the content.’

“We’re sorry your milk was sour. Please accept this coupon for 50 cents off your favorite brand of American processed cheese food.”

How about No? Does No work for you?

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We don’t have time to troll

Oklahoma ranked just below New Hampshire in a Disqus troll-count survey from mid-2017:

Cofounder Daniel Ha says toxic posts have been an issue from day one, and he sees it as a human problem, not a technological one: “It’s never really going to go away.” The company analyzed 92 million comments over a 16-month period, written by almost 2 million authors on more than 7,000 forums that use the software.

According to their map, 4.7 percent of comments from residents of N’Hampsha qualify as toxic; 5.2 percent from Oklahoma; a whopping 12.2 percent from Vermont. (They can’t all be Bernie Sanders.) But this is the statistic I think is wackiest:

Park Forest, IL: The most toxic city in the US, where 34 percent of comments are hostile. But 99 percent of those come from just two authors.

I think you could make a really good case for deporting those two guys, preferably to separate uncharted desert isles.

(Via Sean Gleeson.)

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Bada Bing

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is once again available in China:

The outage caused concern that the service might have been blocked by the Chinese authorities.

Authorities in China operate a firewall that blocks many US tech platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” Microsoft said it a statement.

China-based censorship monitoring group GreatFire says the outage was unlikely to be government-related.

Well, at least you can’t blame Google:

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, after rows with the authorities over censorship and hacking.

But Bing still isn’t a household word:

Bing has a small market share among search engines in China, where locally-grown Baidu dominates the market.

Even we get occasional look-ins from Baidu.

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