balooga's recent activity

  1. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

    balooga
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    Around 6 years ago I wrote a PHP app that fetches RSS feeds and stitches them together into a single feed. At the time I was using a podcast player that I liked, but it was the free version that...

    Around 6 years ago I wrote a PHP app that fetches RSS feeds and stitches them together into a single feed. At the time I was using a podcast player that I liked, but it was the free version that limits the number of feeds you can subscribe to. This was my cheapskate way to overcome the limitation without buying the app, but primarily it was just a good excuse to sharpen my skills.

    I eventually bought the app, and then switched to another app a few years later after the developer moved on to greener pastures. But all this time I've continued to use my aggregator app to manage my subscriptions. I'm not even sure why, tbh. Some part of me likes managing everything in a config.json file instead of my podcatcher's UI, even though it's more of a hassle to SSH into my server to do it. I think I just like the feeling of ownership.

    Anyway, fast-forward to this past week. A couple of the shows I listen to are coming through rewind.website (previously mentioned on Tildes), which is a great way to schedule out reruns of podcasts that have already aired. Unfortunately, I noticed that I hadn't heard any of those shows for a while, and discovered that rewind.website was down! Apparently it had been down for a couple weeks. (It has since come back online, but I had no guarantees that it would, and I was missing my shows.)

    Well, I haven't worked with PHP in years but over the weekend I rolled up my sleeves and implemented my own replay scheduler into the app so I don't have to rely on the third-party service. While I was at it, I added a filter feature so I can skip episodes that match regex. For example some of my shows occasionally run "ad" episodes to promote other podcasts or tease their premium content that's behind a paywall. And some shows like to rerun old episodes occasionally in the regular feed. Now all that stuff I don't want is automatically passed over.

    I was kind of surprised that a quick fix for some "broken" podcasts turned into a real value-add in this ancient project of mine. With the new scheduler and episode filters, I now actually have a reason for continuing to use my app. For the first time in 6 years it might actually be useful for other people besides myself.

    Too bad it's PHP.

    4 votes
  2. Comment on If you had to teach a class about information literacy, what would your key points be? in ~talk

    balooga
    Link Parent
    This is a great point. I appreciate my filter bubble if I'm looking up a local restaurant, or troubleshooting a bug in some code or something. Not so much for "controversial" topics where...

    This is a great point. I appreciate my filter bubble if I'm looking up a local restaurant, or troubleshooting a bug in some code or something. Not so much for "controversial" topics where misinformation abounds. I recommend escaping the bubble for those searches: Use incognito mode or an alternative search engine. A VPN could be useful too, if regionalized results are problematic.

    Although, even that will only get you so far. One thing I'm really frustrated about currently is how insanely muddied the waters are about covid vaccines. One of my family members may be experiencing an adverse reaction right now, but I'm simply unable to look up useful facts about the subject online without my search results being buried in fringe antivax fake news sites. This inability to find signal in the noise is becoming a larger, frustrating side effect of life in the information age.

    2 votes
  3. Comment on Fortnightly Programming Q&A Thread in ~comp

    balooga
    Link Parent
    I don't have much to contribute but I love the concept, a WASM solver is an awesome idea. I built a solver for AoC 2020 as well, mine was a CLI built in TypeScript. Never finished the solutions...

    I don't have much to contribute but I love the concept, a WASM solver is an awesome idea. I built a solver for AoC 2020 as well, mine was a CLI built in TypeScript. Never finished the solutions past day 12 though, one of these days I should circle back and finish! And maybe do some previous years as well if I get really bored and suddenly have tons of free time, haha.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on We infiltrated a counterfeit check ring! Now what? in ~finance

    balooga
    Link
    People in the article comments were saying not to deposit one of these fake checks if you get one. Seems like the only danger in that particular action is that your bank balance might be incorrect...

    People in the article comments were saying not to deposit one of these fake checks if you get one. Seems like the only danger in that particular action is that your bank balance might be incorrect until the check is canceled. But the actual loss occurs when you, believing the check has cleared, then go and transfer some amount to the crooks via wire or Venmo. Am I misunderstanding how this works? Why would people be warning about the first part, instead of the second?

    3 votes
  5. Comment on Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of July 12 in ~health.coronavirus

    balooga
    Link
    One thing that's been bothering me lately is the lack of a formal end condition for the pandemic in a given region. I am starting to hear phrases like "[some past event happened] during the...

    One thing that's been bothering me lately is the lack of a formal end condition for the pandemic in a given region. I am starting to hear phrases like "[some past event happened] during the pandemic" or "[now we are] post-pandemic." But as far as I can tell, there's no consensus about this. I'm thankful that cases are presently low where I live, but my kids still can't get vaccinated. Until they do, I can't act as if this thing is behind us. Sure, my vaccine restored a lot of my personal normalcy but our family lifestyle is still dominated by masking and social distancing, for the kids' sake. Even apart from that I'm constantly concerned about new variants and breakthrough infections for myself.

    Does anyone else have the creeping suspicion that these declarations of the pandemic's end are both premature, and based on little more than wishful thinking?

    I would feel a lot better if there was some objective, formalized criteria for marking the end. Currently there's just too much room for political biases muddying the waters, and on the flip side when things truly are "over" it would be comforting to acknowledge that officially so people don't continue to worry needlessly.

    12 votes
  6. Comment on The bullshit economy: Amazon Sidewalk in ~tech

    balooga
    Link Parent
    How exactly would a third party attribute Sidewalk traffic to the Sidewalk network? Is there something unique about those packets that differentiates them from non-sidewalk packets? They're all...

    How exactly would a third party attribute Sidewalk traffic to the Sidewalk network? Is there something unique about those packets that differentiates them from non-sidewalk packets? They're all coming from the same public IP address regardless.

    If there is some distinguishing characteristic, I'm sure lots of people would be interested in spoofing it to get some of that sweet, sweet plausible deniability.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on China's censorship is far reaching. Searching for "tank man" on some image search engines brings up zero results. in ~tech

    balooga
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    There's a better archive of the Imgur album up on archive.is. (NSFL content warning, same as above, for those skimming who might have missed it) Edit: I've been scrolling through, I haven't seen...

    There's a better archive of the Imgur album up on archive.is. (NSFL content warning, same as above, for those skimming who might have missed it)

    Edit: I've been scrolling through, I haven't seen the vast majority of these images before. Some are REALLY hard to stomach. But keeping record of this atrocity is absolutely vital. I can't vouch for the reach of Chinese censorship influencing western companies, but seeing these photos only strengthens my conviction that it must be resisted at all costs. Truth is at an all-time premium these days. Willful and pernicious lies are rampant. Now more than ever, as the CCP is actively committing and denying atrocities against the Uyghurs, and engaging in countless other geopolitical evils, we can't allow this to disappear into the memory hole.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on Last night my friend and I saw a UFO for the first time in ~talk

    balooga
    Link Parent
    I don't buy into paranormal / LGM explanations for these things but I've read enough accounts and seen enough videos of fast-moving aerial lights suddenly changing direction. Something's clearly...

    I don't buy into paranormal / LGM explanations for these things but I've read enough accounts and seen enough videos of fast-moving aerial lights suddenly changing direction. Something's clearly going on there. Unfortunately all the discussion around the subject I've seen tends to veer into kooky territory pretty quickly. I'd love to entertain some grounded explanations if anyone has any.

    On the conspiracy theory side, I guess I'm open to secret military test cover-ups or foreign surveillance ops... but not sci-fi neutrino-wave quantum levitation or far-out "alien" tech. Do we know of anything capable of this sort of flight today? I've seen astoundingly precise maneuvers, with rapid directional changes, performed by multi-rotor drones. Could that account for it?

    7 votes
  9. Comment on Stack Overflow has been acquired by Prosus for $1.8 billion in ~comp

    balooga
    Link
    StackOverflow is a tremendously useful resource, it's chock full of knowledge and wisdom. Like everybody else in tech I find myself scouring answers on there several times a day in the normal...

    StackOverflow is a tremendously useful resource, it's chock full of knowledge and wisdom. Like everybody else in tech I find myself scouring answers on there several times a day in the normal course of my work.

    But I don't think there's anything particularly unique to SO that can't be replicated in other places. If it gets rendered utterly useless by acquisitions, abuse, and bad leadership... well, I'm sure there are dozens of worthy successors to the throne just waiting for their moment.

    12 votes
  10. Comment on Amazon devices in the US will automatically join the Amazon Sidewalk mesh network and start sharing internet with neighbors on June 10th, unless opted out in ~tech

    balooga
    Link
    Looks like the writing's on the wall for our ability to prevent devices from accessing the internet, or control their access according to our own terms. Up until now, the on-ramps to the...

    Looks like the writing's on the wall for our ability to prevent devices from accessing the internet, or control their access according to our own terms.

    Up until now, the on-ramps to the proverbial information superhighway have been well marked. Clearly defined gates between the online and offline worlds. These interfaces have always been tightly coupled to a particular ISP customer account, through a governable access point—be it an ethernet connection, wifi, or cell tower + SIM card. Now we're seeing incursions into that model, toward an ephemeral, ubiquitous web that's always immediately available to your devices regardless of your consent, outside the bounds of your control.

    I think the ubiquitous internet is inevitable, we've been heading toward it since always-connected broadband replaced dialup in most homes. This is the next logical step. In some regards there are advantages to having a seamless blanket of access everywhere at all times (which this is not, though it's a significant movement in that direction). But as @Octofox pointed out, this is going to be used to facilitate an agenda of privacy-invading, vulnerability-introducing, ad-serving IoT device manufacturers. It empowers them to circumvent user control (and shifts that control into the tech companies' hands). It is fundamentally anti-consumer.

    16 votes
  11. Comment on Huge Eufy privacy breach shows live and recorded cam feeds to strangers in ~tech

    balooga
    Link
    I've generally been pleased with the Eufy product line specifically because they offer non-IoT versions of things. I bought one of their robot vacuum cleaners because (unlike the Roomba brand) I...

    I've generally been pleased with the Eufy product line specifically because they offer non-IoT versions of things. I bought one of their robot vacuum cleaners because (unlike the Roomba brand) I could get one that doesn't connect to the web. Likewise when my baby was born I was pleased to buy their high-quality video monitor which is fully offline and just transmits over good old-fashioned RF. It's got a nice big screen on the receiver, auto IR night vision mode, remote pan/tilt, two different lenses. I'm happy with the product.

    I chose to buy "dumb" because I didn't want to gamble against the likelihood of a breach/leak like this occurring. I guess I feel vindicated. I still feel bad for Eufy because I like their hardware design, but we've seen too many times that otherwise good designs don't guarantee good infosec. I just assume by default that all products are going to fall down in that department unless I have a very good reason to believe otherwise.

    7 votes
  12. Can anyone recommend a good collection of Greek mythology for children?

    When I was a kid I loved the stories of ancient Greek mythology and I think my daughter would enjoy them too. What are some good collections for a 7-year-old? Her name is Ariadne, so I’d be...

    When I was a kid I loved the stories of ancient Greek mythology and I think my daughter would enjoy them too. What are some good collections for a 7-year-old? Her name is Ariadne, so I’d be especially interested in ones that feature that character as more than a footnote (though preferably the less traumatizing versions of those particular stories).

    14 votes
  13. Comment on The making of Dishonored in ~games

    balooga
    Link
    Thanks for posting this, it was really fascinating and made me want to play through both of these titles again. The emergent gameplay and possible routes through a level are like nothing else I've...

    Thanks for posting this, it was really fascinating and made me want to play through both of these titles again. The emergent gameplay and possible routes through a level are like nothing else I've seen before. I also appreciated the tip that you can get through the whole clockwork mansion in D2 without flipping a single switch... definitely going to have to try that approach next time!

    2 votes
  14. Comment on Deepfake lips are coming to dubbed films in ~tech

    balooga
    Link
    The video began with a clip of a foreign-language movie dubbed to English, but never showed any deepfaked examples in the same direction (they were all films in English dubbed to other languages)....

    The video began with a clip of a foreign-language movie dubbed to English, but never showed any deepfaked examples in the same direction (they were all films in English dubbed to other languages). I’m not as familiar with reading lips in German or Japanese so it’s harder for me to vouch for their accuracy. I would’ve liked to see some demonstrations of the tech producing lipsyncs for my own language.

    There’s a good comment on Gizmodo pointing out that often the dubbed voice performance doesn’t even sync up well with the video in the first place. Maybe the translated line just takes longer (or is quicker) to deliver than the original, screwing up the timing. Or the voice actor used a tone that doesn’t align with the original actor’s body language. I feel like these things are easily dismissed when the movie is obviously dubbed, but when deepfaked may end up in a sort of uncanny valley that actually takes you more out of the scene.

    I’m also curious what legal issues might arise from actors challenging the sale of these manipulations of their prior performances.

    11 votes
  15. Comment on How China turned a prize-winning iPhone hack against the Uyghurs in ~tech

    balooga
    Link
    I get it, as a westerner I'm not supposed to weigh in. This is a "complex" matter with layers of geopolitical implications and value systems that don't translate neatly across cultures. But I'm...

    I get it, as a westerner I'm not supposed to weigh in. This is a "complex" matter with layers of geopolitical implications and value systems that don't translate neatly across cultures. But I'm sick of tacitly condoning this madness by beating around the bush.

    The CCP is willfully, unapologetically evil. Its defenders are complicit in its assault against human life and dignity.

    10 votes
  16. Comment on Pressing flesh against flesh 🤝: The multi-skin toned handshake emoji reveals that it is more than a routine gesture in ~tech

    balooga
    Link Parent
    Likewise. I want my thumbs-up to be JUST a thumbs-up. Not a thumbs-up that also contains metadata about my stated race, which has nothing to do with the thumbs-up. I don't understand why anyone...

    Likewise. I want my thumbs-up to be JUST a thumbs-up. Not a thumbs-up that also contains metadata about my stated race, which has nothing to do with the thumbs-up. I don't understand why anyone would go out of their way to imbue a neutral icon with extra unrelated content, especially content in a politically charged category in today's climate. It's adding an additional statement beyond the thumbs-up, where none is warranted. I'll stick with the default yellow.

    Slack recently changed how they display skin-modified emoji reactions. They used to show the icon by itself, and then if you hovered over it you could see any variants that people had used. Now they show all the variants side by side at the top level, in an awkward super-wide pill button that draws attention to the skin tones. You might have 30 thumbs-up reactions on a post, but Slack feels compelled to surface which shades of melanin did (and did not) comprise them. It's so unnecessary and weird.

    11 votes
  17. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    balooga
    Link Parent
    Nice to see another Skyrim addict. I can't tell you how many hours I've sunk into that beautiful game. I can't believe how much staying power it has is my personal library, even after so many...

    Nice to see another Skyrim addict. I can't tell you how many hours I've sunk into that beautiful game. I can't believe how much staying power it has is my personal library, even after so many years I still love it. It's not a perfect game, but it does so many important things right. I'm really really nervous about TESVI though...

    1 vote
  18. Comment on Let's talk about attention in ~talk

    balooga
    Link
    No. No, I'm not in control of it. Yes, I try to manage it. Yes, I had a great attention span 15+ years ago, but it's gone now. Since the internet became ubiquitous, it has monopolized my...
    • No.
    • No, I'm not in control of it. Yes, I try to manage it.
    • Yes, I had a great attention span 15+ years ago, but it's gone now.
    • Since the internet became ubiquitous, it has monopolized my attention, and I'm no longer able to retain focus on other things for very long before I get distracted by it again.
    4 votes
  19. Comment on Reaching ‘herd immunity’ is unlikely in the US, experts now believe in ~health.coronavirus

    balooga
    Link Parent
    Thanks much, I appreciate the targeted breakdown of that specific visualization.

    Thanks much, I appreciate the targeted breakdown of that specific visualization.

    1 vote
  20. Comment on Reaching ‘herd immunity’ is unlikely in the US, experts now believe in ~health.coronavirus

    balooga
    Link
    That vaccine willingness map in the article is interesting. It's more or less distributed how I'd expect, considering how tragically partisan the issue is. But what's up with Minnesota? Almost the...

    That vaccine willingness map in the article is interesting. It's more or less distributed how I'd expect, considering how tragically partisan the issue is. But what's up with Minnesota? Almost the whole state is solidly bright purple, surrounded by a sea of pale lavender-gray. What's different about the culture there?

    Minnesota is also the epicenter of a lot of racial justice news lately, starting with George Floyd. I'm starting to wonder if I've had some wrong ideas about the state. I've never been there but always assumed it was a pretty white-bread midwest place with Fargo accents and lots of fishing. Can anybody more familiar with it explain how it differs socially from the surrounding regions?

    6 votes