Slashdot allows users to set a 120-character signature displayed below all posts to other logged-in users. Here are some signature lines that I put into rotation from 2011 through early 2016. Some URLs are scheme-relative to save characters and thus may break due to Slashdot's switch from HTTP to HTTPS in mid-March 2016.
If I can boil a mini-rant down into a pithy sound bite that proves the point, often by way of example, I sometimes use this space to remind other Slashdot users about a common misconception.
"A Nokia phone running MeeGo (formerly Maemo) is an ideal smartphone." But they aren't subsidized by the U.S. carriers, and the only national carrier with plans designed for bringing your own phone has the worst coverage.
Nokia N900 has one weakness: <a href="//coverage.t-mobile.com/?MapType=Data">There's a map for that</a>
"HTML5 has everything to replace Adobe Flash." But it has no authoring tools to make the sort of vector animation that Flash was designed for before it became a rich-Internet-application platform. (More)
Want to replace Flash with HTML5? First convert <a href="//badgerbadgerbadger.com/">Badgers</a>. Videos like <a href="//homestarrunner.com/sbemail.html">these</a> would be ten times bigger in WebM or H.264. HTML5 won't replace Flash until HTML5 gets some real authoring tools for SVG or canvas animation.
"Switching from FM radio to Internet radio is affordable." But several common radio scenarios require an expensive mobile data plan.
I pay Virgin Mobile $5/month for phone service. Now how do I listen to Internet radio in the car/bus?
"I should store my vital information on a secure server in the cloud." But you can't get to the cloud while on the move unless you have a data plan, and those still run over $60 a month. That could add up to $3,000 over four years.
They call it 3G because that's how much a US mobile data plan costs over four years: 3 grand. I'll keep my USB key. Virgin Mobile USA smartphone: $35/mo. Dumbphone + PDA: $7/mo. Smartphones are the future, not the present.
"It is straightforward to determine who has the authority to grant a copyright license in a given work. In other words, orphan works do not exist." The references to this Wikipedia article disagree with you.
Who owns copyright in a work published by a dead company whose copyright registration is several years out of date? Toaplan is defunct, but Zero Wing is presumably still copyrighted. Now all your base are belong to whom?
"It is straightforward to switch from console gaming to PC gaming." Several video game genres are under-served on the PC.
Both console and PC gaming have drawbacks: PC lacks split-screen while console lacks mods. I play Smash Bros. but want to switch to PC gaming. What platform fighting game should I try? (SFIV != platform.) I hate game console DRM. Now how can my house guests play a video game with me?
"People should not restrict the distribution of computer programs. Instead, they should sell support services related to the software and use that to pay developers." But not all software needs the kind of support services that one might need for, say, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
"Give away software and sell support." This has exceptions, such as non-MMO computer games.
"XYZ can simulate a Turing machine. Therefore, it is a computer. Therefore, it can replace the computer you have." Some computers are better than others. For example, no computer can simulate a Turing machine because a Turing machine has infinite memory. Real computers simulate a linear bounded automaton, the special case of a Turing machine with finite memory. Besides, just because something can be computed doesn't mean it can be computed efficiently or that the computation process can interact usefully with a user.
Turing completeness is not enough. Also consider efficiency and I/O capability.
"Geeks who want control of their own phone should buy a Nokia N900." But where can I try one before buying it? On May 15, 2010, none of three stores had it.
Nokia N900 is more free than an iPhone, but that doesn't help if I can't try one anywhere.
"Brick-and-mortar electronics stores are obsolete. Mail ordering a product that you have never tried and returning it if you don't like it is standard practice." But mail order stores such as NewEgg routinely charge a 15 percent restocking fee on merchandise that is returned for being unusably unergonomic.
I am still waiting to try Archos 43 or Samsung Galaxy Player 50 in a store in my area. Doesn't "not sold in stores" mean "prepare to pay shipping + return shipping + 15% restocking fee"?
"Sites will shut down if they can't attract subscribers or advertisers. People who block ads want the site to shut down." Some people block ads because the site puts a 200 kilobyte Flash ad on a 20 kilobyte article, and they use an Internet connection that's billed by the bit. For example, U.S. mobile data plans are billed by the bit, and so are home data plans in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and parts of the rural U.S. But I don't block all ads; Google AdWords and other text-ad networks pass through my filter unscathed.
To advertisers: I block SWF ads. If you want to sell me something, buy a text ad and save us both some bandwidth.
"If you completely boycott The Walt Disney Company over the Sonny Bono Act, you'll miss out on a lot of nice films." I'll watch a movie if it's on. If I watch it on TV, or I watch a DVD that someone else has paid to buy or rent, then Disney doesn't get any money whether or not I watch. It's a lot like freeganism.
US copyrights will start expiring again in 2019. Until then, I'm a <a href="//tiny.cc/bvhvfree">Disney freegan</a>.
"C++ allows the programmer to be more productive than in C." But a programmer still needs to be careful; some C++ features can lead to slowdown, executable size bloat, RAM bloat, and unmaintainability.
Remember that C++ <a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=C%2B%2B_vs._C">also has its minuses.</a> Especially iostream.
"This is the year of the Linux desktop. There are Free substitutes for every proprietary application you can think of." I can think of a few without close substitutes.
The year of the Linux desktop is the year when <a href="/comments.pl?sid=1730676&cid=33017612">these get ported</a>.
"Android devices are close substitutes for iOS devices." Not if you don't want another cell phone line. (See Android pod touch for details.)
I want Android Market, but <a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=Android_pod_touch">not a phone</a>. Is that so much to ask?
"All web sites should go completely SSL; the cost is negligible now that StartSSL offers free SSL certificates." But for the next year, one still needs a dedicated IPv4 address for each SSL certificate, and those are scarce. (See Portfolio hosting.)
Why not use HTTPS when StartSSL is free?<br>Viewers w/o SNI still need your server to be on a dedicated IP address.
"Access sucks; PostgreSQL rules." They have different roles. The GUI form and report design tools in Microsoft Access are useful for prototyping an application before you make a production version in Python/PHP/Perl/Ruby/whatever.
Microsoft Access is a <a href="/comments.pl?sid=1912284&cid=34574212">prototyping tool</a>.
Sure, you can replace cable TV with Netflix, but the sports fan living with you will lose his out-of-market games. Replacing cable TV with Netflix is <a href="/comments.pl?sid=2115138&cid=35983912">not for everyone</a>. Thinking of cutting the cord? $900/yr for cable is still cheaper than season tickets to football and hockey.
"Everybody and his brother has a Facebook account." At first, signing up required a .edu address, and for people who had already graduated, a Facebook account wasn't worth going back for a master's degree. Even now I'd still need someone to talk me into it.
I'm not on Facebook. I finished college and lost my .edu before it even started.
"You repeat yourself too much." Maybe I do. Maybe it's because not everybody knows the facts yet.
I'm a broken record. <a href="/~tepples/journal/269558">Help unbreak me</a>
"Since Google+ opened to the public, it hasn't taken usage share away from Facebook as fast as I had expected. Therefore, it won't ever beat Facebook." It took time for Facebook to eclipse what had come before it.
Google+'s field trial just ended. Facebook didn't eclipse MySpace until Facebook's own 2.5 yr trial had ended.
"Why is Wikipedia losing contributors? We try to be friendly to newbies." But newbies are turned off by getting reverted by people who exert undue control over an article's text, and the process to make sure an edit takes hold is too much work for casual editors.
Wikipedia is dying because casual editors are unwilling to babysit their changes through the political BS of BRD.
"Telling SuperFetch to use every byte of RAM that apps aren't using is always a good idea because unused RAM is wasted RAM." Not if your battery-powered machine supports powering down half the RAM when load is low, and not if your machine is a virtual machine with oversubscribed RAM.
Big disk caches don't help in <a href="/comments.pl?sid=2367766&cid=37007934">a VM whose RAM is oversubscribed</a>.
"In the post-PC world, everything you do on a netbook can be done on a locked-down tablet. If you want to use an app the tablet maker doesn't like, run it on a server and SSH or VNC in." But as long as cellular data plans remain as expensive as they were in the early 2010s, that won't work for people like me who spend a lot of time away from open Wi-Fi, such as waiting for or riding public transit.
Replace laptop PCs with tablets and the cloud? Not at $60/mo for 5 GB/mo of data transfer.
"Everybody understands that the GPL doesn't 'infect' software distributed on the same medium." Well, not exactly everybody. Raenex thinks it does, whereas drinkypoo thinks Raenex's interpretation is "beyond retarded", and jbolden has described an argument for estoppel by acquiescence.
Raenex has figured out why <a href="/comments.pl?sid=2549462&cid=38215536">Ubuntu is illegal</a>
"Google is your friend. It's easy to learn to do research using only Google and not asking other people for help. You could try using Google to find relevant web sites and then use each site's own search. No, I'm not going to teach you how to figure out the correct keywords." But when I try a query that's too broad, I get irrelevant results, and when I narrow the query, I still get irrelevant results because I don't know what exactly what something is called. Words have synonyms, and Google doesn't always find documents that happen to use different words to express the same thing I'm searching for. Nor does Google assess whether a widely-cited resource has fallen out of date.
"Learn to research with Google." But which <a href="http://tinyurl.com/synonymproblem">synonym</a> for the subject?
"With smartphones there's no need for PS Vita and 3DS." Not all genres work well on a touch-screen device such as a smartphone or tablet, especially not platformers. The advantage of the dedicated handhelds is that developers can rely on having physical buttons that the player can locate by feel in order to provide precise relative movement for a game character. This has been known since 1983, when the flat keypad of the Intellivision II made games harder to play. A touch-based NES gamepad has been called one of the ten worst controllers ever in an IGN article. It affects in-car tablets as well. However, this argument may have been obsoleted by the suggestion in Android pod touch#Multitouch game control. But ultimately, it's the same problem as how touch typing doesn't really work on a touch screen.
Phone gaming? You can't locate onscreen buttons on a completely flat multitouch screen by feel. Why is it called a touch screen if you <a href="http://pineight.com/mw/?title=Touch_typing">can't touch type</a>?
"I don't like Unity because it has the menu bar at the top of the screen, even when an application isn't maximized." Global menu has been around since 1987, when Mac OS 5 introduced MultiFinder, and persists to this day in Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"). The real problem with the implementation of global menu in Unity is that the user can't see the menu to aim at it until the mouse pointer is already at the top. That's called mystery-meat navigation.
The real problem with Ubuntu's Unity: <a href="//tinyurl.com/c3jl5">mystery meat navigation</a>
"Microsoft Security Essentials comes from Microsoft, who knows Windows better than anyone else, so it has to be the best antivirus!" Avast ye. There arrr many reasons to choose something else, though Avast does nag the user to upgrade.
<a href="/comments.pl?sid=2537254&cid=38145662">Avast does what MSE don't</a>
"Correlation does not imply causation." But it does give a starting point from which to search for causation. Just because causation hasn't already been proven doesn't make further investigation of causation futile.
Found correlation? Consider all four possibilities: A causes B, B causes A, C causes A and B, or chance.
"It's 'too'! 'Too'! Not 'to'! You [expletive] idiot. $FORUM is an American site; learn to [expletive] speak American. If you're not a native speaker, get used to rude corrections like this." Just because you correct someone's grammar, usage, or mechanics doesn't mean you have to be rude about it.
Before you correct someone's grammar, <a href="/journal/353425">here's how to be nice about it</a>.
"Hosts files improve computer security." "No they don't." Either way, the way APK and his detractors are trying to get the word out about hosts files is way off-topic.
Love APK? Hate APK? <a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=Talk:Hosts">Tell me why you like or dislike hosts files</a>
"Windows 8 is fine if you take the time to get used to it." But it's at least as mystery-meat as Unity. "Hot corners" don't give any indication of what they do, and the control panel is hidden behind some sort of "charms bar". What do you think I am? Lucky the Leprechaun with a pet Lucario that knows Marshmallow Power? More than one critic has found Windows 8 unusable, and it's killing sales of new PCs.
Windows 8: <a href="//twitter.com/jenga_ship/status/307565832605671424">Magically delicious</a>
"Why should I game on a PC? It's just as bad as the Xbox One because games using Steam DRM phone home." True, like Xbox One used to, Steam has to connect to the platform's licensing server to update the cache of the digital proof of purchase. But Steam in offline mode connects far less often than was proposed for Xbox One and can survive multi-day outages of Internet service. (This signature was pulled after two days, when Microsoft announced that it would allow Xbox One consoles to work entirely offline.)
- Steam phones home once a month. Xbox One phones home once a day. There's a difference.
"An iPad is a personal computer too." There are big differences between personal computers and appliances. For one thing, a personal computer obeys the person who owns it. Even if a user doesn't immediately need the flexibility that a personal computer offers, a personal computer gives the owner room to grow.
A personal computer lets the <b>person</b> who owns it control what <b>computing</b> it does with no "mother may I".
"1998 called; they want their old joke back." "Did you warn them about all the earthquakes since then? If not, you're negligent. See you in court." Ha, ha, ha. Just because 1998 is calling through a past-portal ansible doesn't mean that one has a chance to reply.
Even if 1998 called, it's pretty hard to warn them about a future disaster if they left a voice mail.
"Video game consoles are stupid and restrictive. Heil the PC master race!" Some people prefer ease of use for reasons I have described.
<a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=User:Tepples/Why_consoles">Why some gamers prefer consoles over PCs</a>
"PCs are dying; let's all game on consoles and tablets." That's OK if all you ever play are major-label games.
PC gaming is dying? Let me know when the Humble Bundles reach the major game consoles.
"We all know Slashdot's beta UI sucks. Why aren't you joining in?" Now I am.
"It's not 4G Lite; it's 4G LTE. It stands for Long Term Evolution." Of course it's "lite", as LTE doesn't meet the IMT-Advanced requirements that originally defined the term 4G.
LTE is 4G Lite. You misread it right.
"No one wants free software because RMS can't explain it." Couldn't, past tense. It took 30 years, but GNU project founder Richard Stallman has finally given an accessible presentation of the benefits of free software that fits in a 14-minute time slot. In this vein, I've reduced it even further to a sound bite.
Free software gives you the flexibility to hire anyone to make a program do what <em>you</em> want.
"Bennett Haselton is abusing Slashdot by using it as his personal blog." I disagree. Opinion editorial pieces have a long history in journalism.
Bennett's columns are <a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Op-ed">op-ed</a>. Deal with it.
"Bitcoin sucks because it's not backed by anything. At least fiat money is backed by ability to pay income tax." Fiat money could be so much better if it were actually backed by ability to buy a Fiat.
Fiat money ought to be backed by something. Collect 20,000 FIAT Bucks and claim A NEW CAR!
Once I joined Twitter, most of my sound bite efforts were diverted there rather than Slashdot. But once Slashdot moved the view comments button out in June 2015, I came back.
"We all know Slashdot's share button sucks. Why aren't you joining in?" Now I am. In June 2015, Slashdot reorganized story display on the front page. The topic icon and comment count began to cover up part of the headline, and SlashdotMedia has been accused of putting "Share" where "Read More" used to be a dark pattern to encourage accidental clicks on social tracking crap, especially Facebook likes. Around July 1, the headline overlap was fixed.
Shuck the Fare button. Now that story titles are fixed, Slashdot needs to restore "Read More" to the left of "Share".
"Even if you have a witty reply to current Score:-1 copypastas involving Luddites and cows, don't feed trolls." So instead of replying, I'll just stick it in my sig:
App makers make apps using other apps like <a href="//android-ide.com">AIDE</a>. And our cows say "EAT MOR CHIKIN".
"Cancel your POTS phone and migrate the number to a cell phone." That's fine if you stay in one place all the time. But some people want an extension on every floor so that they can always hear it ring. And not all clothes have pockets.
Unlike a cell phone, a landline rings both upstairs and downstairs.
"Hosts files are an ineffective, and the only prominent proponent of them is a copypasta spammer." No, APK is not the only proponent of site blocking at the DNS level.
Hosts? <a href="/comments.pl?sid=8185377&cid=50749669">SuricouRaven also uses DNS blocking</a> <a href="/comments.pl?sid=8340575&cid=50948531">shellbeach also uses a hosts file</a>
"Hosts files are the best thing since sliced bread for blocking ads." Not once ad networks catch on, randomizing the hostname for each request.
Hosts file disadvantages: No wildcards, no NXDOMAIN, slow linear search, no per-user, no whole-LAN protection <a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=Talk:Hosts/Post_51107411">Let's discuss hosts in an orderly manner</a>
"Your comments make you sound like you have an axe to grind, and you appear to go out of your way to avoid new information." For one thing, many of my so-called "axes" are resolved. Would it help if I listed their solutions and laid the rest out in sound-bite length so that others can help me resolve them?
Yes, I have <a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=User:Tepples/axes_to_grind">an axe to grind</a>. Who doesn't?
The following were scheduled to get installed as signatures, but I decided in February 2016 to temporarily cut back my posting frequency.
"Hosts files block tracking." Not if the tracking operator exploits their lack of wildcards by changing the subdomain every day. I've warned APK several times that this was possible, but he brushed it off because he had never seen it used in the wild.
<a href="//bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1249712">Parsely defeats hosts file with daily subdomains</a>
"What's your favorite IQ test?" Do you mean the one I took or the one I've been reading about?
<a href="//pineight.com/mw/?title=Draw-A-Person_test">Fixing biases in the Draw-A-Person intelligence test</a>
"Consoles are better than PCs for gaming because they get disc games first because there's no culture of waiting for a Steam sale." True, but it's just replaced with a culture of waiting for a discounted copy at GameStop.
The developer gets more from a Steam sale than from a used console game.
"HTTP cookies are bad. There are other, less intrusive ways to log someone in." You mean like HTTP basic authentication as defined in RFC 7617? As LordKronos explained, browsers offer no way for a user to end a session without closing all his tabs.
As an alternative to cookies, HTTP basic auth is broken because logout in long-running browsers is broken.
"PCs are dying; let's all game on consoles and tablets." That's OK if all you ever play are major-label games.
"indie and amateur stuff that almost nobody wants" -- <a href="/comments.pl?sid=2634641&cid=38795153">jakrmaster</a> Some say people who develop video games but can't move to Seattle don't deserve an audience. Advantage of keyboard and mouse: You can play games made by people who don't live in Austin, Boston, or Seattle.
And I occasionally use this space to plug my latest project or someone else's.
Why use Xubuntu?
Because Windows XP's coffin has more nails than a hardware store. vi:<br>Because <a href="http://h-online.com/-1288623">Emacs is one big copyright infringement</a>. Clean, precise, pangolin-powered. <a href="http://xubuntu.org/">MyCleanPC</a>. APK Hosts File Engine: <a href="http://hosts-file.net/?s=Download">Recommended by MalwareBytes</a>
- If reviving this sig, such as on a microblog, use /story/11/07/29/1445252/ and the existence of