The Unread Blog

15 Aug 2015

A czech with some time on his hands claims to have done a traffic analysis of windoze 10 and found that the keylogger is still running in the production versions. Every keystroke is being automatically sent to several servers (one with nsa in the root!), using hardcoded ip addresses, so you can't block with a hosts file.

If this is confirmed, even I'll be a little shocked, although microsloth could just claim it was accidentally included from the beta, which they stated would log your keystrokes. However, if the function is supposed to be disabled, why include it in the production software at all? So you can "accidentally" turn it on later on computers your police friends want to watch?

And lest you think that your windoze 7 is exempt, check this out. Patches have been adding monitoring features to your computer as well.

25 Jul 2015

Ways to make your long board games take less than six hours to play...

Arkham Horror without Randolph Carter: Every turn on the Mythos phase, two mythos cards are drawn. Play both cards normally, in order. When investigators encounter a gate, they may immediately attempt to close it and/or seal, and must then encounter monsters normally. Gates do not disorient an investigator when they appear at her location. If an event indicates that two cards should be drawn every turn thereafter, four cards must be drawn instead.

Talisman Speed Loader: The cost to increase either strength or craft is always equal to the current value of the attribute.

There are a lot of ways to fix the arguably broken rules in these games that don't affect much more than time. How many ways can you think of?

14 Jul 2015

He's not just a plutocrat, he's a Plutonian!

03 Jul 2015

My backed-up data is about to exceed 8TB.

That's over six billion printed pages of information – a stack more than 600 kilometers high (reaching into low earth orbit). If it fell over, it would almost stretch from here to Houston. If it was printed on continuous-feed paper, it would be able to loop around the Earth/Luna system twice with quite a bit left over.

It's the same as enough crappy facebook photos to cover Tinker AFB.

It's the equivalent of over a million copies of Stairway To Heaven, or an extra-long version that lasts 17 years.

It's almost 13,000 CD-ROMs – nearly twice my weight in AOL coasters. Enough to make a 550 square meter solar mirror which might produce as much as 50kW of electricity.

30 Jun 2015

This article made me double-take.

Television is winning? For whom? I haven't watched it in years, and don't miss it. As far as I know, Netflix is still the fastest growing media company in the world. LESS advertising? Every time I see a TV, it's got advertising on it, even in the programs themselves.

Oh, wait, somewhere in there, they admit that the title is BS and they only meant that the same rich TV producers now own some of the Net. And then they go back to the BS by saying that the new content is so much better than the old and everything you see on youtube is just crap because some no-name made it for pennies. After all, only Hollywood professionals have talent.

Then I read this and realized what was happening.

24 Jun 2015

I bought a copy of Huniepop, a jewels-like game with anime characters, that claims to be able to run on linux. At first, I suspected they were outright lying. The "developers" don't even attempt to provide any tech support, though they're happy to take your money.

However, after days of troubleshooting, including installing Ubuntu in a separate partition to see if the recommended Linux worked, I realized that it was the Nouveau video driver that the game didn't like. Once I installed the proprietary nvidia module, the game would at least start up.

Of course it would have helped if the game had thrown any kind of error more descriptive than "aborted." I guess I should just be thankful that anyone is willing to compile for free OSes.

24 May 2015

World governments give fossil fuel companies $10M every minute. I wonder how many folks would still be driving big cars and trucks if they had to pay the actual cost of fuel. (And don't even ask how much money fossil fuel pumps into our elections. The Koch brothers alone plan on spending $1000 every second until election day on getting their candidates in.)

17 May 2015

People like to turn everything into "us" and "them," because our ancestors spent most of their time in small bands competing with each other for the food they needed. The distinctions between people are mostly artificial – they may make you feel better but they don't really mean anything.

"The government" is mostly just a bunch of people like you, trying to earn a living and make things a little better. Same for "the corporations," and "the rich," and "the poor," and our friends and enemies across the seas.

The people in charge really were put there by you. You bought the things the corporations sold (and maybe even worked for them) or they wouldn't have had money to front the politicians. Maybe the people with money and power told you and your neighbors and the folks across town what you should buy, and who you should vote for, but with very few exceptions, nobody forced anyone.

And if you notice that no matter who's in charge, nothing really changes much; well that's because nobody really wants it to change much. On the other hand, the things you remember from your youth always seem much brighter than the world today, so it always seems like things are getting worse, when they generally aren't. Almost everyone fights to hold onto the past. That's human nature too.

However, the only guarantee in this universe is that things change. No amount of effort will keep time from moving forward, and your children and their children will just have to make the best of the future they get. Humans are surprisingly good at that.

27 Mar 2015

22 Mar 2015

If I had to choose only ten anime out of my huge collection (and I haven't actually got around to watching all of the series I've already bought, so this may change in the near future), I'd have to say that these are the best. I didn't include any movies, because you just can't match the depth of a series in only two hours.

Ah, My Goddess: This is the epitome of grade-school-level romances, a fact the show makes fun of more than once. Hapless college student, Keiichi's, incredibly good karma (due to his good nature always being taken advantage of) causes a beautiful, blond goddess to grant him one wish. Of course his wish is for her to stay with him on earth, but he doesn't consider all the trouble that will cause him.

My Bride Is A Mermaid: A junior high-school student ends up engaged to a beautiful young mermaid, who also happens to be the only child of the boss of the undersea yakuza. The only question is, will he survive once the hostile mer-mobsters take over his school in the guise of human teachers. This is the most laugh-out-loud funny anime I've ever seen.

Log Horizon: A bunch of World of Warcraft (or close enough) players get trapped in the game world and start to remake it in their own image. One thing I liked about this was the fact that the NPCs were all intelligent and had their own agendas, plus they outnumber the players enough to give their demands force.

The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya: A high-school student meets a strange classmate who disdains humans – she only wants to talk to aliens, psychics, or time travelers. Oddly enough, he discovers that all three are gathering around her, convinced that she has god-like powers and terrified at the consequences if she should discover them.

Demon King Daimao: A high-school student, planning to enter the priesthood, discovers that he's fated to become the demon king. Among those trying to either kill him or control his power are witches, werewolves, superheroes, demons, dragons, vampires, and pretty much everything else you can imagine. The series tries to pack too much story into twelve episodes, but it's still fun.

B Gata, H Kei: A high-school freshman decides to have sex with a hundred guys before she graduates, despite the fact that she's never even been out on a date. She picks one fairly innocuous classmate to start with. Needless to say, losing her virginity turns out to be more complicated than she expected.

Galaxy Angel: This is a long series of vignettes, set in the future, about the Galaxy Angel task force, a group of young women with unique training and expertise. It's pure zany comedy.

Genshiken: A slice of life series about otaku (geeks). It's nice to see people even geekier than me managing to make it through life.

Please Twins: An orphaned high-school student, barely managing to eke out a living on his own, is visited by two attractive young women who both believe themselves to be his sister. Only one can actually be related to him, a fact which becomes crucial when both fall in love with him.

Strike Witches: An alternate history WWII where aliens attack, drawing all the world powers away from war and into defending the Earth. The enemy is so powerful that only magic has any hope of defeating them – enter the Strike Witches, who fly around shooting the UFOs down with period weapons. Lots of fan service, but the story was excellent and the aliens were the most ALIEN of any fiction I've ever seen, to the point where you couldn't even predict what they'd shoot at in combat. (In the first naval battle, they spend much of their time shooting the ocean.)

03 Mar 2015

C Control is basically an arena combat anime, but it's an insidious sort of combat. The fights happen in a strange reflection of the city called the financial district, and the fighters can't be injured. When one of them gets hit, he literally bleeds money and the one who loses the most, when time runs out, loses the fight.

The twist is, the money you lose is loaned to you by the proprietor of the district, with your future as collateral. Lose the fight and you lose a piece of your future appropriate to the amount of money you lost. One guy goes bust and, when he gets home, finds that his three children never existed. Another loses a little and fails a test. Still another loses by just as narrow a margin and finds that his vaccine didn't save some people who should have lived... but it didn't affect his future much.

Of course, no one can force you to fight, but every fight you skip costs you half of your personal fortune, and the future that goes with it. All the while, black money, indistinguishable from the normal stuff except to the fighters, is pouring out of the financial district and into our economy, and every time a major fight occurs, changes happen in the real world, usually unnoticed by anyone except those involved.

26 Feb 2015

11 Feb 2015

01 Feb 2015

19 Jan 2015

05 Jan 2015

23 Dec 2014

12 Dec 2014

06 Dec 2014

04 Dec 2014

01 Dec 2014

10 Nov 2014

My entries for the "secular alternatives to the ten commandments":

See things as they are. Try to set aside bias, prejudice, and unnecessary assumptions. The universe is full of surprises—unless you've already decided that it isn't.

Know yourself. You are a remarkable creature. Never cease to be amazed by all the things you are and that you can do. On the other hand, remember that the rest of the universe is also amazing.

Explore. Every person, every creature, every place and time have a story to tell. Ask questions, look it up, or find the answers first-hand and tell others. Learning never gets old.

Don't cling to possessions. People are more important than things.

Be free of tradition. Listen to the advice and traditions you come across, but decide for yourself what makes sense. Never follow a belief or a person blindly.

Don't worry. Do what you can to overcome the challenges you face, but don't dwell on them or fret over things you can't change. Especially, don't worry about what people think of you. Do what's right and accept that some just won't understand.

Love everyone. Don't try to limit the best feeling of all. Love as much as you can stand to. Everyone is worthwhile.

Don't carry a weapon unless absolutely necessary. When you expect a fight, you're apt to find one. When you're unarmed, you're less likely to take foolish chances. Use your head, either way.