Neil de Grasse Tyson discusses science, epistomology, and “arguing from ignorance.”

Via Raw Story.


The geeks were biting that day, and the anglers reeled in a big haul. (Details at the link.)

The administrators of a top deep-web marketplace have disappeared with over $12m worth of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, it emerged last night, in what appears to have been an “exit scam”.

Bit-coin is little more than three-card monte with added electrons.

22 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

What might have caused this?

Computer screen capture of error message:  "Last write time was in the future.  FIXED."

Click for a larger image.

Hint: The answer involves two computers. (Answer below the fold.)

More »

19 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

My new computer, which I intend to use as my home file server, is due to arrive today. I told the vendor to put Slackware Linux on it. Slackware is the distro of iron: It always works and never breaks.

I shall retire my Dell Dimension 4700, which is ten years old (I got it from Second Source about seven years ago–if you are in Upper Delaware, Second Source is the place to go for used computers and computer repairs), wipe the HDD, and donate it to my local DAV thrift store.


It arrived, exactly as promised. And it rocks.

Zareason makes good boxes.

17 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn how to do it from my latest podcast at Hacker Public Radio.

Then record your own podcast for HPR.

16 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Personal Musings

. . . Gannett, for creating the world’s user-unfriendliest websites, such as, say, for example!

And they said it couldn’t be done . . . .

15 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

You too can have the new, improved Tell-All Barbie.

15 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Numbers don’t always mean what they appear to mean.

You might remember that a few years back, Raleigh (North Carolina–ed.) was rated one of the free world’s manliest cities. Among the performance prongs in the analysis was the number of pickup trucks registered in the city.

It had a gazillion of them per capita, but they weren’t the manly-man kind with gun racks in the cab and dead deer piled atop the hood. Turned out the state highways department registered all its pickups cast unto 100 counties at its headquarters in Raleigh, skewing results.

More numerical nonsense at the link.

15 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” works only if you find a way to get to know someone.

14 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

I am always fascinated by rational, kind, sane persons who call themselves “Libertarians” and who are unable to see that Libertarianism is little more than an elaborate rationale for “I’ve got mine and to hell with you.” I know a few folks like that.

I stumbled over a Mother Jones interview with Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu which was a more interesting read than I expected. I was particularly taken with this nugget, in a series of questions about Gamergate and related issues.

They discussed why some internet users insist on threatening and harassing those with whom they disagree from behind a curtain of anonymity, then become upset when called out about it and defend themselves by contending that harassment, misogyny, and sexism in the world of computer games is somehow not real because it’s done from behind avatars. It was in that context that Libertarianism appeared:

Being a nerd meant being good with computers, book knowledge, and data, and being bad with people. So the idea was that if you got really good at working with things and manipulating objects, you’d reach a point in life where you wouldn’t need people to like you. You’d win purely by merit. There’s nowhere on Earth where this is actually true, but there’s people who believe that.

That’s why so much of nerd culture involves these power fantasies full of magic—literally reshaping the world through thinking about it—and superheroes with super abilities. It’s also why a lot of the people in geeky subcultures gravitate towards libertarianism. There’s a strong ideological belief in wiping out “politics,” because politics means having to interact with people, and negotiating with people who have different interests.

I commend the rest of the interview to your attention.

14 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Jamesetta Walker writes in my local rag that the idea of the Apple watch leaves her unimpressed. (Follow the link for the full tail of her travails.)

Despite the loud buzz, I’m not pining for another device, given the successive weekends this month that were consumed by data transfer problems during phone and tablet upgrades.

One of my friends has an Android watch. It enables him to talk to his phone. When I watch him use it, I am flooded with feelings of “why bother?”

Frankly, “because you can” is not ipso facto a sufficient reason for doing something.

13 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff


A US federal judge said Facebook Inc must face a nationwide class-action lawsuit seeking to force the social media company to provide refunds when children spend their parents’ money on its website without permission.

09 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Daniel Ruth points out that Florida’s public school testing program does not compute.

If states put the same effort into teaching that they are putting into testi–oh, never mind.

07 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Too Stupid for Words

. . . is very simple and it’s not what you think it is.

It’s this: The political media have no idea how the “whois” coomand works (let alone DNS or the whole damn internet, for that matter).

05 March 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. (If can’t attend, you can always join the forums.)

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, March 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)

03 March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

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.

28 February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

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.

More »

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