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    1. It's obviously bad when "real" data like full names and credit card info leaks, but most data companies collect is probably email address and some anonymous things like which buttons and when the...

      It's obviously bad when "real" data like full names and credit card info leaks, but most data companies collect is probably email address and some anonymous things like which buttons and when the user clicked.

      Nevertheless, such data collection, tracking and telemetry is considered quite bad among power users. I don't support those practices either. But I'm struggling to consolidate my arguments agaist data collection. The one I'm confident about is effects on performance and battery life on mobile devices, but why else it's bad I'm not sure.

      What are your arguments? Why is it bad when a company X knows what anonymous user Y did and made money on that info? What's the good response to anyone who asks why I'm doing the "privacy things"?

      21 votes
    2. I first read Endgame in 2008 right when a huge green-washing wave of media began to pick up speed. When I tried to talk about this with most of the mainstream environmentalists, they would either...

      I first read Endgame in 2008 right when a huge green-washing wave of media began to pick up speed. When I tried to talk about this with most of the mainstream environmentalists, they would either quickly hand wave it off or rudely dismiss me. Some even thought I was crazy for even entertaining Jensen's premises.

      It's been eleven years since I first read the twenty premises and I, more or less, hadn't thought about them much in the past six years or so.

      I wanted to see what people here thought and felt about them.

      Let's just start with the first five:

      • Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.
      • Premise Two: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.
      • Premise Three: Our way of living—industrial civilization—is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.
      • Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.
      • Premise Five: [From the perspective of those in power, t]he property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.
      7 votes
    3. Businesses, especially in tech industry, sometimes have some okay support for clients, but in general the crucial things are walled off. A simple example: someone in a company decides to place an...

      Businesses, especially in tech industry, sometimes have some okay support for clients, but in general the crucial things are walled off.

      A simple example: someone in a company decides to place an ad and does that, people see that ad on YouTube, find it obnoxious, but cannot confront the original decision maker directly - they are unknown, unreachable.

      Another example: many people used Google Inbox app and then Google discontinued it. Users are unsatisfied. Someone in Google, a person, made the decision. But they are unknown. A user cannot come up and ask them, "Hey you, why did you do that?" and at least get a clear honest answer. There are sugary press releases and damage control in such cases.

      I understand that if many of us started a business we would want to wall our decisions off the external environment (users) too. It's a dilemma. But still, what do you think about that? How would you deal with this problem in a different way?

      12 votes
    4. Everyone hates ads. Frankly, no one wants to pay for anything online. And places like CoinHive offer a service that doesn't clutter the screen and pays people. Too good to be true right? Well the...

      Everyone hates ads. Frankly, no one wants to pay for anything online. And places like CoinHive offer a service that doesn't clutter the screen and pays people. Too good to be true right? Well the first group of people to latch on the service ramped up the mines to 8 threads at 100% because they were hackers and didn't care if they slowed your computer or drained your battery. They just wanted their almost untraceable money.

      What I'm proposing is that if sites were to use miners that instead use 2/4 threads at 10% thereby using far less resources, across enough users provided your traffic is ok, could the results be tangible if we gave it a chance?

      edit: I hate cryptocurrency but I was more trying to discuss the idea of getting paid for passive CPU usage more described in this comment by @spctrvl

      23 votes
    5. the 10 pills

      hey everyone! found this interesting post on /r/6perks, and i wanted to share it here and see what ideas get shared. You wake up in a chemist's lab. In front of you is a table with 10...

      hey everyone! found this interesting post on /r/6perks, and i wanted to share it here and see what ideas get shared.


      You wake up in a chemist's lab. In front of you is a table with 10 different-coloured pills. You may only choose 3. A warning label notifies you that taking more than 3 will cause instant combustion.

      Which do you choose, and why?


      🔵 Future Pill 🔵

      You can see 10 years into the future or any time sooner, whenever you want. You can see any part of the world.


      🔴 Xray Pill 🔴

      You gain the ability to see through anything as far as you can normally see. Works at any layer.


      🔸 Fly Pill 🔸

      You can fly. You start at a slow speed and require time to speed up to a maximum of 100mph (161kph). You are not immune to low oxygen or harsh temperatures.


      🌿 Drug Pill 🌿

      You gain the ability to automatically be affected by any drug that exists as much as you want, no bad side effects.


      ❤ Sex Appeal Pill ❤

      Anyone you want is instantly attracted to you, you are cured of and immune to STD's. Anyone who you "do" also becomes immune, and son on. Cure the world?


      💠 Disease Immune Pill 💠

      Gives you the ability to become immune to all harmful diseases.


      💰 Money Pill 💰

      You don't become rich, nor have infinite money, but it's like you do. Every time you want to do or have something, your bank account/wallet has exactly as much money as you need.


      💮 Wish Pill 💮

      Gives you the ability to wish for one of two things: any existing object to be teleported in front of you, or for you to be teleported wherever you want. Can only be used once a week. You get a free return ticket if you teleported somewhere. You cannot wish for other pills.


      ♠️ Death Pill ♠️

      Gives you the ability to have any person of your choice killed, with no risk of consequence. Can only be used once every 5 weeks.


      🌟 Painproof Pill 🌟

      You are tougher than Wolverine after drinking green tea or eating spinach. You can still get hurt but you have Olympian-like physique, the skills of the greatest martial artists in the world, you are twice as fast, and your wounds regenerate very quickly.

      17 votes
    6. Preface One of the most common questions I see from prospective programmers and computer scientists is "where should I start?". My answer to that is a pretty consistent one: learn how to solve...

      Preface

      One of the most common questions I see from prospective programmers and computer scientists is "where should I start?". My answer to that is a pretty consistent one: learn how to solve problems effectively. But that's vague and not really all that helpful, so I figured that I should actually tackle this in a little more depth by touching on something more specific.

      Specifically, I want to touch on the subject of how to think about complex problems.


      The Rationale Behind Learning

      Before we can better understand how to effectively solve problems, it's important to consider how it is that we learn. With any subject, the standard approach is to begin with the bare basics. For programming, that's writing a Hello, World! program in the new language you're working with. For foreign languages, you learn basic common words and sentence structure. For math, you learn your basic arithmetic operations like addition and multiplication.

      From there, we add on more additional complexity and string together everything we've learned. For a foreign language, this looks like learning about new words, stringing them together in your own sentences, then learning about verb tenses and throwing them into the mix as well. With math, you take your normal number crunching and suddenly throw the concept of order of operations into the mix, then variables and how to solve for them.

      As a general rule, we first get comfortable with solving a simple problem and gradually build up toward solving increasingly more difficult ones.


      The Missing Piece

      Odds are that we've all sat in a math class at one point, and when the teacher asked a student how to solve a problem, they received an immediate "I don't know". You may or may not have been that kid yourself. I have no intention of shaming the kids who struggled (or those who still struggle) with math. Rather, I want to point to what I believe is the fundamental cause of that mental barrier that has frustrated students for generations.

      Learning is not simply a matter of adding more complexity to problems. A key part of learning, and one that I don't recall ever having emphasized during my grade school studies, is your ability to break problems down into the steps that you know how to complete and combine the different, simpler skills you've already learned to arrive at a solution. Instead, you were expected to solve many of those complex problems and learn through practice, or through pure rote memorization.

      What determined whether or not you could solve those problems was then a question of whether or not you could intuit or memorize how to solve those specific problems, and brand new problems that still made use of the same skill sets but had completely different forms would throw a wrench in that. Those who could solve any of those problems--those who, I would argue, were often mistakenly referred to as "geniuses" or "talented"--were really just those who knew how to break a problem down into simpler pieces.

      This isn't a failing on the students, but on the way they've been taught to think about problems.


      Reducing Problems

      What does it mean to "break down" a problem, though? The few times I recall a teacher ever touching on the subject, "break down the problem" and "use the skills you've already learned" were the kinds of pieces of advice passed around, completely vague and devoid of meaning for anyone who didn't already understand. How can we better grasp this important step?

      There's a term in complexity theory known as "reduction". The general idea is that if you have problems A and B, where you already know how to solve B, then if you can transform problem A so that it looks like problem B, then you can use your solution for B to solve at least part of A.

      In other words, finding the solution to a more complex problem is just a matter of finding a way to make it look like a problem you already know how to solve.

      The advice to "break down" a problem really means to perform this process of "reduction", of transforming your more complicated problem A into your simpler, known problem B.


      In Practice

      We're still discussing a vague concept, but now that we have more specific language to work with, we can more easily see how it works in practice (a reduction of its own!).

      Let's consider a conceptually simple problem: grabbing the kth largest (or smallest) item from a list. How do we solve this problem? Probably the most obvious and straightforward answer is to sort the list then grab the kth item, right?

      Notice that we gave two high-level descriptions of the steps we need to solve this problem: sorting, then grabbing the appropriate item. We can therefore then state that the problem of "grab the kth largest/smallest item from a list" can be reduced to the two problems "sort a list" and "grab the kth item from a list".

      Now, let's say we're given the problem "take this list of competitor times from the race and tell me what the top 10 race times were". What do we know about this problem? We know that we're being given a list, and we know that we need the 10 smallest items from that list. We also know that "10 smallest items" is just shorthand for "the 1st smallest item, the 2nd smallest item, ..., and the 10th smallest item". We can therefore reduce this problem to the previous one we solved by transforming it into "grab the kth smallest item from a list" and "repeat for values 1-10 for k".


      Practical Advice

      In the end, my explanation may not have helped much at all in actually grasping the concept of reduction. My intent isn't necessarily to help you understand it immediately, but to provide you a framework for a way of thinking. Even if you do grasp the general concept, you may even wonder how you're supposed to recognize these kinds of reductions out in the wild in non-academic environments. The answer, perhaps annoying, is practice. Much like an appraiser can only become good at discerning details through experience, a programmer or computer scientist can only recognize these patterns through repeated exposure.

      In general, if I had to narrow it down to a small list of tips for improving your problem solving skills, this would be it:

      • Work on grasping the concept of reduction itself.
      • Expose yourself to lots of new problems.
      • Don't shy away from difficult problems. Reduce them as much as you can and solve the pieces you're able to. Try to research the pieces you're struggling with. Return to the problem later when you have more experience if you have to, but take a crack at it first.
      • Don't accept "I don't know" as an answer in itself. Ask yourself why you don't how to solve a problem. Narrow down which pieces you're able to solve and which pieces you're not.
      • Just solve problems. Any problems. Easy ones, hard ones, and anything in between. Solving problems is a skill, and practicing it will make you better at solving problems in general, and better at recognizing the simpler problems inside of more complicated ones.
      • Don't just come up with a solution to a problem. Ensure that you understand how each piece of it works and why it works. Copy-pasting from StackOverflow can be a valid tool at your disposal, but doing so mindlessly isn't nearly as valuable as reviewing the solution, being able to determine whether or not it works before ever executing the code, and being able to discard anything unnecessary from it.

      Final Thoughts

      I'm not an authoritative voice on this subject. I'm not an educator. More than anything, I'm a life-long student and an enthusiast. There's seldom a day when I don't have to research something new in order to solve a problem I'm not familiar with, or remind myself the syntax for a function I've used several times in the past. I don't know anything about teaching others, but I do know plenty about learning, and if there's anything that has stood out to me over the years, it's the fact that I find it easier to learn about something or to solve a problem if I can transform the concept into something that's easier for me to grasp.

      Moreover, I'm human and thus prone to mistakes. Call me out on them if you notice them. I'll take any of my mistakes as learning opportunities :)

      11 votes
    7. Preface Over the last couple of years, I've had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of my predecessors and put those lessons into practice. Among those lessons, three have stood out to me...

      Preface

      Over the last couple of years, I've had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of my predecessors and put those lessons into practice. Among those lessons, three have stood out to me in particular:

      1. Consistency is king.
      2. Try not to be too clever for your own good.
      3. Good code takes time.

      I know that there are a lot of new and aspiring programmers here (and I'm admittedly far from being a guru myself), so I thought it would be good to touch on these three lessons, what they mean, and why they're so important.


      Consistency is King

      This is something that I had drilled into my head over nearly two years working on the code base at my previous job. Not by my fellow programmers (who did not exist), nor by my boss, but by the code itself.

      Consistency can mean a number of things, but there are two primary points that matter:

      1. Syntactic consistency.
      2. Architectural consistency.

      Syntactic consistency concerns standards in what your code looks like. For example, the choice between snake_case or camelCase or PascalCase for naming; function parameter order; or even something as benign as what kind of indentation and how much of it you use.

      Architectural consistency concerns standards in how you structure your code. Making sure that you either use public class properties or getter and setter methods; using multiple booleans or using bitmasks; using or not using objects for encapsulating data to be passed around; validating data within the primary object or relegating that responsibility to a validator class; and other seemingly minor decisions about how you handle certain behavior make a big difference.

      The code base I maintained had no such consistency. You could never remember whether the method you needed to call was named using snake_case or camelCase and had to perform several searches just to find it. Worse still, some methods defined to handle Ajax calls were prefixed with ajax while many weren't. Argument ordering seemed to be determined by a coin flip, and indentation seemed to vary between 2-space, 3-space, 4-space, and even 5-space indentation depending on what mood my predecessor was in at the time. You often could not tell where a function's body began and where it ended. Writing code was an exercise both in problem solving and in deciphering ancient religious texts.

      Architecturally it was no better. There was no standardization in how data was validated or sanitized, how class members were accessed or modified, how functionality was inherited, whether the functionality was encapsulated in an object method or in a function, or which objects were responsible for which behavior.

      That lack of consistency makes introducing or modifying a small feature, a task which should ordinarily be a breeze, an engineering feat of its own. Often you end up implementing that feature, after dancing around the tangled mess of spaghetti, only to find that the functionality that you implemented already existed somewhere else in the code base but was hiding out in a deep, dark corner that you never even knew was there until you had to fix some other broken feature months later and happened to stumble across it.

      Consistency means predictability, and predictability means discoverability and, more importantly, easier changes and higher confidence in those changes.


      Cleverness is a Fallacy

      In any given project, it can be tempting to do something that saves you extra lines of code, or saves on CPU cycles, or just looks awesome and does something nobody would have thought of before. As human beings and especially as craftsmen, we like to leave our mark and take pride in breaking the status quo by taking a novel and interesting approach to a problem. It can make us feel fulfilled in our work, that we've done something unique, a trademark of sorts.

      The problem with that is that it directly conflicts with the aforementioned consistency and predictability. What ends up being an engineering wonder to you ends up being an engineering nightmare to someone else. While you're enjoying the houses you build with wall studs arranged in the shape of a spider's web, the home remodelers who come along later aren't even sure if they can change part of the structure without causing the entire wall to collapse, and they're not even sure which walls are load-bearing and which aren't, so they're basically playing Jenga while blindfolded.

      The code base I maintained had a few such gems, with what looked like load-bearing walls but were actually made of papier-mâché and were only decorative in nature, and the occasional spider's web wall studs. One spider's web comes to mind in particular. It's been a while since I've worked on that piece of code, so I can't recall what exactly it did, but two query-constructing pieces of logic had overlapping query structure with the difference being the operators and data. Rather than being smart and allowing those two constructs to be different, however, my predecessor decided to be clever and the query construction was abstracted into a separate method so that the same general query structure could be used in other places (note: it never was, and was only ever used in those two instances). It was abstracted so that all original context was lost and no comments existed to explain any of it. On top of that, the method was being called from the most critical piece of the system which, unfortunately, was already a convoluted mess and desperately required a rewrite and thus required me to understand what the hell that method was even doing (incidentally, I fell in love with whiteboards as a result).

      When you feel like you're being clever, you should always stop what you're doing and make sure that what you're doing isn't actually a really terrible idea. Cleverness doesn't exist. Knowledge and intelligence do. Write intelligent code, not clever code.


      Good Code Takes Time

      Bad code more often than not is the result of impatience. We don't like to plan out the solution before we get to writing code. We like to use variables like x and temp in order to quickly achieve functional correctness of our code because stopping to think about how to name them is just additional overhead getting in the way. We don't like to scrap our bad work if we can salvage it in some way instead, because then we have to start from scratch and that's daunting. We continually work against ourselves and gradually increase our mental overhead because we try to decrease our mental overhead. As a result we find ourselves too exhausted by the end of our initial implementations to concern ourselves with fixing obvious problems. Obviously bad but functional code is preferable because we just want the task to be done and over with.

      The more you get exposed to bad code and the more you try to avoid pushing that hell onto yourself and your successors, the more you realize that you need to spend less time coding and more time researching and planning. Whereas you may have been spending upwards of 50% of your time coding previously, suddenly you find yourself spending as little as 10% of your time writing any code at all.

      Professionals from just about any field can tell you that you can either do something right or you can do it twice. You might recognize this most easily in the age-old piece of woodworking wisdom, "measure twice, cut once". The same is true of code, and doing something right means planning how to do it right in the first place before you've even started on the job.


      Putting into Practice

      I've been fortunate over the last couple of months to be able to start on a brand new project and architect it in a way that I see fit. Changes which would ordinarily take days or weeks in the old code base now take me half a day at most, and a matter of minutes at best. I remember where to find a piece of code that I need because I'm consistent and predictable about where I place things; I don't struggle to tell where something begins and where it ends because I'm consistent about structure; I don't continually hate myself when I need to make changes to my code because I don't do anything wildly out of the ordinary; and most importantly, I take my time to figure out what it is that I need to do and how I want to do it before I've written a single line of code.

      When I needed to add a web portal interface for uploading a media asset to associate with a database object, the initial implementation took me a week, due to the need for planning, adding the interface, and supporting and debugging the asset management. When I needed to extended that interface to allow for uploading the same kinds of assets for a completely different object type, it took me only half an hour, with most of that time being dedicated toward updating a Vue.js component to accept configuration via props rather than working for only the single hard-coded object type. If I need to add a case for any additional object type, it will take me only five minutes.

      That initial week of work for the web interface provided me with cost savings that would not have been feasible otherwise, and that initial week of work would have taken as many as three weeks had I not structured the API to be as consistent as it is now. Every initial lag in implementation is offset heavily by the long-term cost savings of writing good code.


      Technical Debt

      Technical debt is the cost of your code over time. The messier and worse your code gets, the more it costs you to try to change, and those costs only build up. Even good code can accumulate technical debt if the needs for your software have changed and its current architecture isn't compatible with those changes.

      No project is without technical debt. Even my own code, that I've been painstakingly working on for the last couple of months, has technical debt. Odds are a programmer far more experienced than I am will come along and want to scrap everything I've done, and will do a far better job rewriting it.

      That's okay, though. In fact, a certain amount of technical debt is good. If we try to never write any bad code whatsoever, then we could never possibly get to writing any code at all, because there are far too many unknowns for a new project.

      What's important is knowing when to pay down on that technical debt, which could mean anything from paying it up front (i.e. through planning ahead of time) to paying it down when it starts to get too expensive (e.g. refactoring a complicated section of code when changes become sufficiently difficult). That's not something you can learn through a StackOverflow post or a college lecture, and certainly not from some unknown stranger on some relatively unknown website in a long, informal blog-like post.


      Final Thoughts

      I'm far from being a great programmer. There's a lot that I don't know and I still have quite a bit to learn. I love programming, though, and more than that I enjoy sharing the lessons I've learned with others. Especially the ones that I wish I'd learned back in college.

      Please feel free to share your own experiences, learned lessons, and (if you have it) feedback here. I'd love to read up on some other thoughts on this subject!

      22 votes
    8. Almost every content provider online tries to access some of your personal info, whether it's to keep itself afloat, improve functionality, or create profits. In 2014, Google made [89.4%]...

      Almost every content provider online tries to access some of your personal info, whether it's to keep itself afloat, improve functionality, or create profits. In 2014, Google made [89.4%] (https://revenuesandprofits.com/how-google-makes-money/) of its profits from advertising, all of which attempts to target users with their interests (though Google does allow this to be disabled).

      What do you do to try and protect yourself from data collection? What software, programs, or browser extensions do you trust to protect you, and not just also monitor your activities?

      If you don't do any of this, why not? To what extent do you think companies should be allowed to use your data?

      30 votes
    9. Ursula K. Le Guin was my favourite SciFi & Fantasy writer. Her passing earlier in the year was a great loss. I'm reading her scifi-fantasy book Always Coming Home (1985), a compilation of...

      Ursula K. Le Guin was my favourite SciFi & Fantasy writer. Her passing earlier in the year was a great loss.

      I'm reading her scifi-fantasy book Always Coming Home (1985), a compilation of "in-universe" codices and oral traditions as seen by an anthropologist. Her works were usually put in the "soft scifi" bin, as opposed to the "harder" genre. What caught my attention was a passage from the book, as appeared in an oral narrative (p. 161):

      There are records of the red brick people in the Memory of the Exchange, of course, but I don't think many people have ever looked at them. They would be hard to make sense of. The City mind [a vast autonomous network of computers] thinks that sense has been made if a writing is read, if a message is transmitted, but we don't think that way.

      Here we're called to notice the information vs. meaning distinction, for which a lot has been said and will be said. It was striking to me how the definition of "sense" according to the "City mind" closely paralleled the concept of information in Claude E. Shannon's seminal paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication (PDF link). There, "information" simply meant what was transmitted between a sender and a receiver. It gave rise to a consistent definition of the amount of information based on the Shannon entropy.

      However, we implicitly feel that this concept of information isn't encompassing enough to include meaning -- a vague term, but one we feel to be important. It seems that meaning enters information only as we (or someone) interpret it. In the words of computer scientist Melanie A. Mitchell, "meaning" seems to have an evolutionary value (Complexity: a Guided Tour, 2009). I feel that we could as well say, meaning may be bonded to the bodily and messy reality where flesh and blood living is at stake.

      Returning to the passage in the novel, for me it was read as a rare spark of "hard" science in Le Guin's scifi works. Was it possible that she actually read into the information theory for inspiration? I don't know. But it appears to have captured the tension in the "ever-thorny issue" of meaning vs. information. For the computers, "sense" follows the information-theory concept of information; but for the human people in the story, it "would be hard to make sense of" the information in that way.

      Do you have similar "aha" moments, where you find a insightful moment of grasping an important "hard-science" idea while immersed in a "soft" scifi/fantasy work?

      Or, we can talk about anything vaguely connected to this post :) Let me know.

      10 votes
    10. There's been a bit of drama regarding the direction of the general story, but I reckon they know what they're doing - I'm mostly excited for the new zones anyway. And quests, storylines in new...

      There's been a bit of drama regarding the direction of the general story, but I reckon they know what they're doing - I'm mostly excited for the new zones anyway. And quests, storylines in new zones, etc.

      WoW has been on a slow and steady downward trend in terms of popularity, and it's not very talked about in gaming communities - but hey, it's now 14 years later and it's still going strong with millions of subscribers! Although mildly annoying that we can no longer see exactly how many there are, it's understandable - if nothing else for the beauty of an updated version of this graph!

      So who's excited for BfA?

      16 votes
    11. New release today, Erra's Neon. Apple Music Spotify YouTube Currently the number one metal album on iTunes' chart, Erra's Neon is the latest release from the underground metalcore act. While...

      New release today, Erra's Neon.

      Apple Music
      Spotify
      YouTube

      Currently the number one metal album on iTunes' chart, Erra's Neon is the latest release from the underground metalcore act. While they've attracted a cult following, Erra rarely gets headlining tours. Neon is their newest attempt at reaching the next step.

      My personal opinion is that this is the perfection of the sound the band switched to with their last release, Drift. Just as atmospheric, with little less of the chug-chug-chug of most metalcore outfits, Erra may have finally found out how to make what some call "progressive metalcore" a bit more accessible. I personally enjoy how present the bass is in the mix. Metal and hardcore both seem to forget about the instrument and put it low in the mix as an after thought. The clean vocals have always been reminiscent of post-hardcore's darling Anthony Green, and Neon is no different.

      It's a little bit of a shame that we have to wait until track three to really hear some of the noodling guitar solos they are known for. In a genre more punctuated by breakdowns, Erra is a breath of fresh air when it comes to lead guitar work. But when it does happen, it is up to the standard they've put out for themselves. They seemed to have moved even further away from the djent sound of their earlier work here. I don't mind that, even if I do like djenty sounds, as I think this crisper sound is better overall for Erra. While the uncleans do hit like a truck on first listen, they stay in a mid-range throughout most of the album and it would have been nice to see them go low, as JT has been known to do live.

      Overall, I gotta say this is one my favorite albums of the year so far. Every song slaps a bit, gets the head bopping along at the very least.

      3 votes
    12. This thread talks about Discord is trying to become Steam just as Steam is trying to become Discord. Deimos and others said This feels like the beginning of Discord flailing around in search of a...

      This thread talks about Discord is trying to become Steam just as Steam is trying to become Discord.

      Deimos and others said

      This feels like the beginning of Discord flailing around in search of a business model.

      But I really like this comment from Krael,

      It's a Slack/Ventrilo hybrid that requires almost zero technical knowledge to set up or join. It's nothing groundbreaking by ANY stretch of the imagination, but there's a reason it took off the way it did.

      Discord is at its heart is the same as Skype/Slack/Teamspeak/IRC but the UI/UX is leagues above everything else. Using Discord is so much easier than most alternatives and with just enough integrations that if they coughed off the "gaming" mantra they would be able to attract so many more users. Perhaps enough to get the amount of Nitro subs to stay afloat.

      14 votes
    13. So, I've been playing this campaign with some friends for a while where I am a crocodile-themed lizardfolk hick with a thunder cannon named Cletus Cornelius Crocodilius the 3rd. Much fun has been...

      So, I've been playing this campaign with some friends for a while where I am a crocodile-themed lizardfolk hick with a thunder cannon named Cletus Cornelius Crocodilius the 3rd. Much fun has been had so far, but today something extra special fun happened.

      So a while back our party found a stone that basically makes whatever it's being wielded by as light as a feather. So naturally our undead pirate monk has been using it to fuck with Cletus by shoving it into his mouth and then pushing him great distances. I thought it was funny, the DM thought it was funny, and it'd give us all a great laugh. But, it did give me an idea.

      See, we were all hunting down this nasty chimera, and after some scouting we knew it could fly. That was no bueno for us and we needed something to clip its wings. Suddenly, I remember that we have a stone that made me weigh about as much as a toddler. I also had several bear traps. And since I was a crocodile, I could grapple things with my mouth, leaving my hands, and my thunder cannon, free to attack.

      So, we lure the flying chimera out with out bird-person bard, who lures it into range. We take all our ropes and strap the bear traps to Cletus and then an anchor line around his waist. We then have the sorcerer gnome cast enlarge upon himself, making him the massive size of a slightly larger than average human. He and the monk then chuck me as hard as they can at the chimera, which I proceed to stick to like a giant reptilian tick. I then spat the stone out onto the ground, and suddenly this tick weighed 800lb again.

      I proceed to spend the entire combat session locked to this thing, blowing chunks off of it with my thunder cannon until it is grounded and no longer able to fly. It was still a tough fight, but we managed to prevail in the end.

      It then became a desperate struggle to cut Cletus out of the bear traps before the dead Chimera fell off the bridge we were fighting it on. Thanks to a few lucky dex saves from myself and the bird person, Cletus managed to leap off the plummeting chimera at the last second.

      I love this game.

      10 votes
    14. I loved how surreal this movie was. It reminded me a lot of some of my favorite movies like Brazil, with these characters that live in an absurd world getting caught up in something crazy. I liked...

      I loved how surreal this movie was. It reminded me a lot of some of my favorite movies like Brazil, with these characters that live in an absurd world getting caught up in something crazy.

      I liked all the repeated gags related to the earrings and the photo.

      The themes on anti-capitalism, issues of fame, selling out, were all captured really well.

      And the sound track was awesome.

      What did you all think?

      6 votes
    15. (Obligatory disclaimer: Yes, I know the difference between a "theory" and a "hypothesis". I'm using the colloquial usage of the term. I'm not submitting a formal paper here.) I figured a post like...

      (Obligatory disclaimer: Yes, I know the difference between a "theory" and a "hypothesis". I'm using the colloquial usage of the term. I'm not submitting a formal paper here.)

      I figured a post like this now and then might be a little fun. I wanted to discuss a little theory of mine about the Mario universe. As the title suggests, the short version is that Mario is a dictator.

      This theory hinges on one important point: There are inconsistencies within the stories that are told about Mario's adventures that suggest that his exploits are fabricated.

      Let's begin with the most central theme in Mario's adventures: The repeated kidnappings of Peach. Consider for a moment that in every kidnapping event, Peach has had less-than-stellar security detail--typically none at all--despite the number of kidnapping events that have occurred over the years. If arguably the most high-profile member of a kingdom is being kidnapped on a regular basis, you would expect their security detail to be significantly greater than it's consistently shown to be, so why is it always so lax? The three most logical explanations are either a) the security detail is actually much tighter than is shown and Bowser is just that much stronger, b) the security detail is thinned out before every kidnapping event due to a coordination between Bowser and an insider in the mushroom kingdom, or c) there are no kidnappings at all and they're merely being portrayed as such.

      We can eliminate option (a) fairly easily: Are we really expected to believe that an ordinary plumber can single-handedly take out an entire kingdom that an entire other kingdom was unable to stand against while their princess was captured? This plumber has no military training whatsoever, and we're expected to believe that he can stand against an entire army by himself? Unlikely.

      That leaves us with two logical explanations: Either the kidnappings are coordinated on the inside, or the kidnappings are completely fabricated. Deciding which of the two is the most likely requires further considerations.

      With that in mind, you may be wondering if there's any support for either of those accusations, so let's first discuss Bowser himself. Specifically, let's discuss his physical traits. He's a scary-looking dude, no doubt. But Bowser is clearly not a creature that evolved for aggressive behavior. If we examine his build from an evolutionary perspective, we can see that he has a large and bulky shell; his claw strikes are powerful, but slow; his fire generally lacks range or (in the case of earlier Mario games where range was better) sustained use, and its speed is generally terrible; and he can't move quickly at all, except in short bursts. All of these traits suggest a creature that isn't built for aggressive, offensive action, but for self-defense. A creature like Bowser is unlikely to attack another kingdom at all, unless he's acting in self-defense or given some other form of incentive.

      Now, between the remaining two options, we again have either an inside job or a fabrication. Without deciding yet which it is, let's at least consider this: If it really is an inside job, there are only two ways in which someone could stand to benefit:

      1. Mario would stand to benefit due to receiving and perpetuating his status as a hero, so he would have to have some kind of way to incentivize Bowser to coordinate with him, otherwise Bowser wouldn't have any need to work with him. If Mario really is a plumber, however, then there is absolutely no way he would have the wealth or political leverage for Bowser to benefit in that relationship. It's possible that he was a plumber at first, but ended up becoming a puppet to Bowser, but in no situation does Mario remain a plumber if we're to assume that he's continually coordinating with Bowser, otherwise he would have no way to deal with the increased security detail.
      2. Peach isn't actually being kidnapped, but is attempting to escape the kingdom with Bowser's help. If Mario is actually an independent dictator rather than a puppet, then it would stand to reason that prior royalty would want to escape in order to avoid harm. In this case, it's easy for a coordinated escape with another kingdom to be portrayed as a kidnapping.

      So, to quickly recap, we have inconsistencies in the security detail, in the antagonist, and in the protagonist. These already suggest that the stories of Mario's exploits may not be at all what they're portrayed as.

      With the above in mind, let's take a look at one more damning detail about Mario himself: The mushroom peoples are said to have transformed into bricks, yet Mario has no qualms with destroying them throughout his adventures.

      With everything above in mind, we can see the following narrative fall into place:

      1. The mushroom people were never turned into bricks. It's a false story used as a dehumanization tactic in order to justify Mario's murder of innocent people. It's pretty easy to justify killing your own people, after all, if you convince people that a brick wall was erected and had to be destroyed so you could save the princess, so the loss of those transformed people was necessary.
      2. Mario isn't really a plumber. It's possible that he was at one point, but he definitely can't be anymore.
      3. Mario's exploits are either staged, or he's continually re-kidnapping a fleeing princess seeking refuge in another kingdom and the kidnapping is being portrayed as a rescue.

      Now, a final important point: Over time, we've seen the narrative shift in Bowser's reasons for kidnapping Peach. The most recent case was an attempted marriage in Odyssey. It stands to reason that, as a dictator, Mario has to continue controlling the narrative as news leaks out regarding foreign events, e.g. a marriage between a "kidnapped" princess and a foreign ruler. The continuous stream of foreign news and gossip could install doubt about your prior narratives--"Why is our princess marrying someone from another kingdom? Was she even really kidnapped or did she run away?"--and force you to adopt a new one--"The princess is being forced into an unwanted marriage by her kidnapper!". This is a far different narrative than those cases where Bowser was said to want to destroy the mushroom kingdom.

      We can therefore establish that Mario's image is absolutely essential. Any crack in his portrayal as a hero could cause the mushroom people to revolt, so he needs to assert control in any way possible. Thus, he will create any narrative necessary to paint himself as a hero and to make himself more relatable, and to make his adversaries as monstrous as possible. It's also particularly unlikely that he's Bowser's puppet, otherwise we wouldn't expect Bowser to allow himself to be thwarted so frequently, something that would make him appear weak to his own people and threaten his place. It's far more likely that Mario is acting independently and losing his grip on his narrative.

      So the story that seems to have the least inconsistent narrative is as follows:
      Mario is a dictator who wants to appeal to the working class by being viewed as a plumber, so the citizens of the Mushroom kingdom will think "he's a true blue collar worker, he's one of us!". Peach isn't actually being kidnapped, but is attempting to flee from Mario's dictatorship and seek refuge in the Koopa Kingdom. Mario continually assaults the Koopa Kingdom in order to re-kidnap Peach. In the process, he ends up murdering countless sympathizers who try to aid in her escape, or even uses the opportunity to destroy his opposition in a way that's easy to brush off. During all of this, he continually pumps out propaganda about Peach being kidnapped when she's really seeking asylum and about his heroic rescues when he's really taking his own army with him, paints Bowser as a villain, and dehumanizes his victims and normalizes their murder. In addition, because of his clear readiness to dehumanize his own people, it's likely that Bowser and the rest of the Koopa Kingdom are also being dehumanized and portrayed as monsters in order to justify the slaughtering of countless foreign people and to help instill fear and anger among the mushroom people. Peach and Bowser have also likely fallen in love and attempted to marry, but Mario continues to lay siege on Koopa Kingdom in order to kidnap Peach, and Mario's propaganda network paints this marriage as a forced one between an unwilling Mushroom Kingdom princess and a terrifying and ruthless Bowser.

      In short: Mario is dictator using a propaganda network in order to paint himself favorably while painting his adversaries as monsters or objects in order to justify mass murder and prevent a fleeing princess from seeking asylum in a foreign kingdom.

      What are your thoughts? Have I made any critical errors? Is there more evidence that I missed that supports this theory? Do you have an alternative theory you'd like to share?

      (If you notice any typos or repeated sections, please let me know. This took a while to write up, so it's possible that I missed something.)

      11 votes
    16. Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      This movie absolutely destroyed me.

      To be fair, I am very affected by the sadness and trauma of others, so it's not surprising that this movie almost killed me. To borrow from a comment I made on another user's post "This movie was a 2 hour long gut punch, and the end was a fever dream." It was so very traumatic, exhausting, uncomfortable, and TERRIFYING. And traditional horror movies do not ever scare me.

      My overwhelming feeling for most of the movie was profound sadness. This family torn apart, the horrible things they say and think... the panic attack that Peter has and when he asks his friend to hold his hand? That was one of the times I actually cried. His numb stupor after his sisters head gets knocked off by a telephone pole(!!!!!). His mother's screams when she finds her headless daughter in the back of the car. The desperation when Steve splashes Annie in the face with water. The two times (one reality, one dream) Annie says just awful things to Peter. Peter smashing his face into the desk. Peter screaming/pleading "Mommy!" as Annie tries to get into the attic after him. These are all times I felt overwhelming sadness. Tons of other feelings: anger, disgust, terror, etc. But huge amounts of sadness that I've never felt during other horror movies.

      Let me preface this by saying I know what the director has said about his vision and "what the movie really means." But I've never cared about a movie enough to actually fundamentally disagree with the person who created it before. self-deprecating eyeroll

      This movie as a straightforward demon-possession/ occult movie does nothing for me. The whole time I had no doubt that it was a family torn apart by mental illness and that devastated and terrified me.

      I'm going to post my inexpert interpretation as a comment. It won't be a synopsis, but there will be oodles of spoilers.

      *Edit: I thought the movie was great. I don't know if I'll ever see it again.

      5 votes
    17. Tildes E3 Bingo?

      So, it seems bingo cards of hype or disappointment have become all the rage nowadays, and with E3 coming up in a few days I was wondering is Tildes wanted to make their own hype/disappointment...

      So, it seems bingo cards of hype or disappointment have become all the rage nowadays, and with E3 coming up in a few days I was wondering is Tildes wanted to make their own hype/disappointment bingo card. Feel free to chime in with suggestions.

      Here's a few:

      "Microsoft does something actually cool." - wishful thinking, but I love my xbox and just want to see it flourish.

      "Video Game movie announcement that doesn't look like shit" - how hard can this be?

      "Sony gets exclusive content" - this is just me being bitter about the exclusive dlc in PS4 Destiny.

      "God of War sequel" - I know it's guaranteed to happen at some point, but it would be hype if they dropped some sort of teaser or something even though it's incredibly early.

      "0 charisma presenters" - why can't these studios just hire someone to hype them up?

      "Awful fucking 'gamer' dialogue" - you know what I'm talking about. Just look up E3 last year with Anthem.

      "Over-focusing on a lack of microtransactions" - this point is gonna be over sold so hard because of Battlefront.

      13 votes
    18. For the last couple of days I've been visiting the site several times a day and leaving after 10 minutes or so. It's not that the site is bad or the discussion isn't good, but there's been a big...

      For the last couple of days I've been visiting the site several times a day and leaving after 10 minutes or so.

      It's not that the site is bad or the discussion isn't good, but there's been a big lack of discussion I'm interested in. I don't like to take place in discussion of politics, or religion, or LGBT, or whatever. For me, the forums always were a place to meet new people to talk to, without it being a date or making friends or anything, just a friendly talk. Not that there shouldn't be a place for talking about world problems, but I get much more enjoyment from small issues or just getting to know other people.

      Which is why I haven't been very active here for the last couple of days. There is all this LGBT talk and Trump and catastrophes. Even in the ~talk, there are 'Homosexual marriage legal or illegal?', 'Do you think school uniforms should be in all American/Canadian schools?', 'It's a Piece of Cake to Bake a Pretty Cake: LGBT+ Discrimination'. There is a fair share of smaller conversations, but they are mostly things I'm not interested in: 'What's your favorite documentary?, 'Advice- Best Tablets for Interactive Training' ― or things I don't know enough about to discuss, like 'How to gauge the degree of someone's self-awareness?'. This leaves very few posts I'm interested in, and I can hardly engage there because everything I could've said has already been said before I saw it.

      Everything above is why I was mostly active in my own posts when I first joined as well. And I wanted to create this post to express this frustration(?) with lack of content, and I'm sure a lot of other lurkers will agree with me on that (whether or not they have different interests) ― I'm writing this post for them, too. I have no idea how you'd fix this problem or if it's even fixable, but I think it's important to state it so more active people can notice and so I have someplace to be active on ~.

      25 votes
    19. Coincidentally checked right after this went up, hi gay friends! As someone living in the South, Pride is actually a fall/spring thing, so I don’t have much to look forward to offline with Pride...

      Coincidentally checked right after this went up, hi gay friends!
      As someone living in the South, Pride is actually a fall/spring thing, so I don’t have much to look forward to offline with Pride this month.
      What stories and events do y’all have?

      12 votes