Dick Polman questions Republican tactics on “net neutrality”–that’s the idea that ISP’s should not be able to charge websites for a “fast lane” to their users or otherwise censor or regulate content that they do not like.

Here’s a bit of his reasoning:

What do you hate more: The cable and phone companies that you deal with up close and personal – or “big government” in the abstract?

I suspect that most of you would cite the companies – the “service providers” who give you the Internet, but who fail to show up at your house when they’re supposed to. Indeed, these companies are widely loathed, as evidenced by their nadir ratings in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index. Heck, even conservatives who hate “big government” really hate it when their Internet is down and the service guy is AWOL.

Yet these are the companies that Republicans have aligned themselves with. A bad political move.

Republicans claim they are somehow standing up for freedom. In a way, they are; they are standing up for Comcast and Time-Warner and their ilk to have the freedom gouge those who would use the inner webs.

They just can’t help themselves. Siding with big business is what they do.


Noah on ark balanced on Mt. Ararat.  Caption:  When it dawned on Noah that the real reason was to rid the world of Twitter.

Click for a larger image.

14 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Screenshot of Fargoal Game in Rogue Class Linux

Screenshot of Fargoal Game in Rogue Class Linux

I have never been much of a computer gamer, unless you count Double Canfield and Mah Jongg solitaires as “computer games.” By the time we got our first home computer, I had too many kids and not enough time to become skilled at the early Mech Warriors, Duke Nukem, or Sim City, the games that were big at the time. I decided that I was already mediocre at enough stuff and didn’t need to add computer games to the list.

Recently, though, I stumbled over Rogue Class Linux, which describes itself thus:

Rogue Class is a toy Linux distribution for playing games and reading books. RCL favors turn-based games, such as puzzles and rogue-like games.

What interested me, a long-time Sherlockian, was the reference to the Sherlock Holmes gamebook, Murder at the Diogenes Club, one of the games in Rogue Class Linux.

Look below the fold for some observations and screenshots.

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14 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Oh, the horror.

“Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement,” said the study led by Craig Silverman, a research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

While news organizations have always dealt with unverified information, practices at some websites may accelerate the dissemination of fake news, said the report, “Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content.”

“Many news sites apply little or no basic verification to the claims they pass on. Instead, they rely on linking-out to other media reports, which themselves often only cite other media reports as well,” the study concluded.

And this surprises you how?

12 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

11 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Rules for news twits.

10 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

A researcher in artificial intelligence explains why he does not fear “the singularity,” because intelligence and consciousness are not the same thing. Here’s bit:

But as a researcher who works on modern, industrial AI, let me offer a personal perspective to explain why I’m not afraid.

Science fiction is partly responsible for these fears. A common trope works as follows: Step 1: Humans create AI to perform some unpleasant or difficult task. Step 2: The AI becomes conscious. Step 3: The AI decides to kill us all. As science fiction, such stories can be great fun. As science fact, the narrative is suspect, especially around Step 2, which assumes that by synthesizing intelligence, we will somehow automatically, or accidentally, create consciousness. I call this the consciousness fallacy. And if it is false, it means we should look at AI very differently.

If you fear that your Roomba will one day revolt, you might find this an interesting read.

07 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

What a bring-down.

06 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Jess Zimmerman:

It’s a very large internet, after all, and it’s long been known as a prodigious generator of adult material for every occasion. You know the theory about how if you put an infinite number of monkeys in front of typewriters, one of them will eventually write Hamlet? Thanks to the internet, we have now tried this experiment with several billion monkey descendants. We didn’t get Hamlet, but we did get pretty much every kind of smut imaginable (including Hamlet parody porn). There’s even a name for it: Rule 34, which is generally stated, “if it exists, there is porn of it.” (Don’t bother looking up the other rules; they pretty much all suck.)

She goes on to theorize that there might possibly be worthwhile stuff out there and to wonder why you have to look so hard for it.

04 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

I sifted through the blogroll yesterday and removed a few sites that are no longer publishing and added a couple of new ones.

I must say, it was not nearly in such disarray as the last time I caught up on my housekeeping.

03 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The UK forms the Fighting Frolickers.

03 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, February 5.

Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

29 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Der Spiegel.

25 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Really, now.

21 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook reaches beyond satire.

16 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman thinks “Facebook at Work” is a bad idea. I would consider it beyond bad.

A snippet:

Facebook, as you know, is already almost surreally confusing to use, unless you’ve given up trying not to be confused. Its plethora of privacy controls are impossible to keep track of, even in their newly simplified form, so you can’t ever be certain about who can see what. Meanwhile, since posts on the Newsfeed are selected by an algorithm, there’s no way to be sure your friends will see a post even if you do want them to, nor that you’re seeing theirs. You see what Facebook wants you to see.

Adding a Facebook at Work account more than doubles the potential for confusion; it squares it. How long before someone gets themselves fired – or, worse, outed – as a result of not knowing which network they were using? Or maybe we’re too cautious for that these days, and we’ll simply get even better at never expressing a thought or posing for a photograph that might undermine our workplace brand. Which isn’t, really, all that much less dispiriting.

Any workplace that chooses to enter the Zurkerdome deserves what happens to it.

12 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

When the writers created Linux Voice, they promised that, nine months after an issue was published, they would make that issue available under a CC-SA license and they’ve kept that promise.

You can download Linux Voice Issue One and Issue Two at no charge.

Full Disclosure:

I contributed to the LV Indiegogo campaign to found the magazine and am a subscriber. I contributed in appreciation of their fine podcast and continued my subscription because it’s an excellent magazine.

It’s the first computer mag I’ve subscribed to since PCMag went online only about 15 years ago. It’s worth it if only for the tutorials.

Heck, it was worth it for their vim tutorial alone, which is on page 106 of Issue One. There are oodles of tutorials for vim on the inner webs, but this was the first one I have seen that I found at all intelligible.

11 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The “sharing economy” loses another early supporter.


The Zuckerborg plus a selfie equals a rescue.

Officials say a 911 dispatcher in training used Facebook to locate a Northern California hiker critically injured after falling a 150 feet down a cliff while hiking near Lake Berryessa.

You still won’t find me logged into the Zuckerborg.


An acquaintance of mine called me for help with her Win 8.1 computer; it had gotten really slow since New Year’s Day.

When I got there, I found the kind of Windows malware mess that you read about on rabidly partisan Linux websites–adware and pop-ups just flooding in, a true cavalcade of spots. It took me three and a half hours to wrestle that puppy into submission.

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