pallas's recent activity

  1. Comment on One month with Kagi search in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Yes, if you consider a physicist who does a fair amount of programming to be a programmer. I mostly use kagi: it has worked, in my view, at least as well as Google, and it has the additional...

    As a programmer, quality of search results matters a lot to me - the right link can save me hours of wasted effort. I'd be curious whether any programmers have tried using Kagi or Neeva.

    Yes, if you consider a physicist who does a fair amount of programming to be a programmer. I mostly use kagi: it has worked, in my view, at least as well as Google, and it has the additional advantage that you can deprioritize and block individual domains in the search engine itself (while client-side extensions exist to do this for Google, they simply can't work as well). Most programming SEO spam seems to be from a small number of domains, so this can be very helpful.

    DDG, on the other hand, seemed horrible for programming spam, and was one of the reasons I gave up on using it. There are ridiculous, basic cases where, for example, simply searching for a Python standard library module will return spam above the official documentation.

    4 votes
  2. Comment on One month with Kagi search in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    That's rather surprising to me as well. One of the bigger draws of kagi for me was that it seems better than Google (and especially DDG) at not having search results that are overrun by SEO-spam...

    The first paragraph kind of reads like word-salad to me, and it does sound like they're pulling from Google, which actually makes me like them a lot less?

    That's rather surprising to me as well. One of the bigger draws of kagi for me was that it seems better than Google (and especially DDG) at not having search results that are overrun by SEO-spam sites. I had assumed that this was because they were making their own index.

    It's not, I suppose, that surprising that they could do better here, even using the same indexes, through good processing and filtering. Many of the same spam sites show up again and again, often with the same domains: the paraphrase-real-sources sites like w3schools, the innumerable-bad-articles sites like geeksforgeeks or towardsdatascience that always seem a bit like they're computer-generated off a line or two of information fed to some algorithm, the scrape-and-republish sites trying to outrank Wikipedia and GitHub (eg, gitmemory, which was somehow successful in drowning out github in results), the obviously-computer-generated/assisted comparison and list sites that have no real original content. Filtering these out from results would not be that hard, and it is perhaps more surprising that Google and DDG fail so strikingly at doing so. Even where kagi fails by default, it allows you to deprioritize and block sites and types of sites, a feature that Google oddly lacks (and used to have, if I recall).

    Kagi's argument, I think, is that this type of customization, and removal of low-quality views-and-advertising-supported sites, is fundamentally incompatible with the advertising-based business models of Google and DDG. And in a way, that they seem to be reasonably successful at being better while not using their own index perhaps gives evidence against a particular worry, which is that they're actually just doing better because those sorts of sites are targeting Google and Bing (and thus DDG), and if Kagi were to become large enough, they would fall victim to the same attacks.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on UK in turmoil as government's gamble to solve economic woes fuels crisis, instead in ~finance

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    It's astounding. Everyone I've talked to has formed an opinion that Truss' government is terrible. It's surprisingly consistent. I've heard socialists on the continent joke about her. I've heard...
    • Exemplary

    It's astounding. Everyone I've talked to has formed an opinion that Truss' government is terrible. It's surprisingly consistent. I've heard socialists on the continent joke about her. I've heard appalled hard Tories, even those who usually find political conversation impolite, bring up what a disaster she is, unasked. No one even feels it necessary to convince anyone that the government is terrible: they just assume anyone paying any attention to politics agrees. And they do. It's amazingly unifying.

    It just seems like Truss' government is piecing together policy choices in a completely incoherent way, with no real attempt at ideological justification, unwilling to sacrifice anything except a connection to reality. Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of a government usually involves whether you agree with their project, their values, and the tradeoffs they make. Nationalize the corporations, seize the assets of the exploitative bourgeoisie, wave the red flag. Lower taxes on the rich, let the lazy poor exploiting social services choose to work harder or starve, create your free market utopia. Even choose to make sacrifices on trade and material comforts in order to preserve a sense of sovereignty and national identity in a world of hegemonic liberal multicultural internationalism. These involve tradeoffs that are not immediately ridiculous, and make some sense as a whole even if you think they are immoral, or won't actually work.

    But if you lower taxes on the rich and don't raise it on the poor or cut services, and if you want to simultaneously ensure affordable gas for everyone and enormous energy company profits for shareholders and a strong currency and low inflation... almost anyone, with any political views, can look at that collection of policies and agree that it's delusional.

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Requesting resources for de-googling in ~tech

    pallas
    Link
    For search: as someone who is using Kagi and paying for it, I've been quite impressed. Using DuckDuckGo, I feel like there's a definite sense that one is sacrificing search quality in exchange for...

    For search: as someone who is using Kagi and paying for it, I've been quite impressed. Using DuckDuckGo, I feel like there's a definite sense that one is sacrificing search quality in exchange for not supporting Google. Kagi feels like it actually offers a better search that Google, especially in the ability to tweak the algorithm and rankings.

    With that said, their costs seem quite surprising to me, and make me question how sustainable their service actually is: if I'm interpreting those numbers correctly, even at $10 a month, they would appear to be losing money, just in terms of pure computing cost, for a user making 1,000 searches a month, or around 40 searches a day.

    3 votes
  5. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Likely because, for batteries that people see, that is still the most common and distinctive battery shape. AA and AAA batteries are reasonably common, and even many modern devices use cylindrical...

    Why are they using a skeuomorphic cylindrical battery shape (that is >100 years old) to signify power? To match this I'd half expect semaphore flags as a skeuomorphic signifier for the data transfer logo.

    Likely because, for batteries that people see, that is still the most common and distinctive battery shape. AA and AAA batteries are reasonably common, and even many modern devices use cylindrical cells (eg, 18650 cells). The pouch batteries of modern devices that need flat batteries are usually not seen, and don't have a distinct shape. Cylindrical cells are really quite common, and tend to all look quite similar. Even 9V batteries, the other shape that might be familiar (because of smoke alarms...) sometimes just have cylindrical cells inside them.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    For the most part, what I've found is that I can roughly divide the USB C cables I have into thinner cables (slow data and charging) and thicker cables (fast data), where fast data is something...

    For the most part, what I've found is that I can roughly divide the USB C cables I have into thinner cables (slow data and charging) and thicker cables (fast data), where fast data is something only needed in limited circumstances. There are technical and practical considerations that divide cables in this way: it is more difficult and expensive to make longer, thinner, and lighter cables with higher data speeds, and it is often desirable to have longer, thinner, and lighter cables for charging. Beyond this distinction, and the problematic confusion with TB3 cables, everything mostly works, most of the time.

    And 'mostly working' is a considerable improvement on previous cables: one could argue that what USB C does is make usually possible what would previously have been impossible. I can take a cable I have lying around, and plug my phone into a monitor, and there's a good chance it will display something on the screen. I can plug my laptop into a phone charger and cable, and in my case, it will actually work somewhat, charging the battery slowly. I can be at a relative's house, notice my phone is low on battery, and plug my phone into their laptop charger. I can carry one good cable, and use it for everything. These things don't always work with USB C, but they would have either required specialized cables, or simply been impossible, before USB C.

    With that said, I'd argue that the primary frustration I have with USB C is that manufacturers seem not only indifferent, but often actively opposed, to being clear and honest about what they are selling, and no one seems motivated to improve the situation or impose some sort of standards of information. Consider, for example, Anker, often pointed to (problematically, in my opinion) as a reputable company. As far as I can tell, their website will not simply state what their cables are. It will vaguely describe features, but will never list a standard. At times, it will be actively misleading about data. Consider their most expensive cable. It states it has "Wide Compatibility: Designed to work with virtually any USB-C device, from laptops to earbuds" and "ultra-fast file transfer". In fact, it appears to be a USB 2.0 cable: in other words, the slowest data transfer you could reasonably expect from a cable, at a speed that was fast over two decades ago.

    There isn't even any reason, in my view, for Anker to present their cables in this way. Their cables are clearly meant as charging cables, with features (lightness, length, flexibility) designed for that use. Yet they won't simply state that they are USB 2 cables, and feel the need to misleadingly claim thay have ultra-fast data speeds. Claims like this by manufacturers make it difficult for consumers to even find USB 3/4 cables, because the market is so flooded with USB 2 cables that either completely omit, or hide in fine print that won't allow them to be filtered out, that they are USB 2 cables.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on The Biden-Harris administration's student debt relief plan in ~finance

    pallas
    Link Parent
    As someone who both is self-taught in programming and has some connections to computer science, I feel obligated to point out that computer programming/engineering and computer science are...

    As someone who both is self-taught in programming and has some connections to computer science, I feel obligated to point out that computer programming/engineering and computer science are different subjects, and I would argue that website misidentifies itself as being about computer science. This would perhaps be like civil engineering identifying itself as physics: they are both valuable, but they are not the same field.

    3 votes
  8. Comment on A dad took photos of his naked toddler for the doctor. Google flagged him as a criminal. in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    What's bizarre about this story is that it appears law enforcement cleared the customer, but Google appears to disagree with law enforcement. Somewhat similarly, it appears that the only comments...

    Still, this article is about situations where law enforcement cleared the customer. So it’s not law enforcement anymore, but they still don’t get their files back. I think in a similar situation, a bank account would be unfrozen?

    What's bizarre about this story is that it appears law enforcement cleared the customer, but Google appears to disagree with law enforcement.

    As for Mark, Ms. Lilley, at Google, said that reviewers had not detected a rash or redness in the photos he took and that the subsequent review of his account turned up a video from six months earlier that Google also considered problematic, of a young child lying in bed with an unclothed woman.

    A Google spokeswoman said the company stands by its decisions, even though law enforcement cleared the two men.

    Somewhat similarly, it appears that the only comments from the NCMEC on the topic is that detecting the images is "an example of the system working as it should.”

    On the one hand, from a data perspective, yes, it would seem that if the US had something like the GDPR, they would have access to the data. But on the other, it seems astonishing that Google is willing to all but state that they consider these men to be guilty of sharing child abuse images, despite the state disagreeing.

    4 votes
  9. Comment on A dad took photos of his naked toddler for the doctor. Google flagged him as a criminal. in ~tech

    pallas
    Link
    Arguably, this story has little to do with child abuse imagery at all. The more general type of story here, which seems increasingly common with Google, and the real damage being done, seems to...
    • Exemplary

    Arguably, this story has little to do with child abuse imagery at all. The more general type of story here, which seems increasingly common with Google, and the real damage being done, seems to come from the conflict between Google positioning itself as integral and indispensable to daily life and document storage that can and should be relied upon, and also having a policy of proactive and unilateral complete banning of individuals over often opaque reasons, often seeming to rate its judgement, and its sense of truth, over those of state bodies. These stories pop up from time to time, with various reasons for the bans: sometimes there isn't even any known reason.

    Google heavily pushes itself as a wide-ranging, indispensable, and reliable suite of services. It encourages users to keep huge amounts of priceless personal data only on Google servers, and makes regularly backing them up elsewhere difficult for average users. It encourages users to have a Google-controlled online identity, not just through email addresses that are ultimately Google-controlled, but through encouraging security practices like OAUTH that, whatever the ostensible intentions, in practice usually end up causing third-party, unrelated services to require using Google's services (eg, Tailscale's only recently corrected horrible use of it), and through MFA methods that end up relying on continued Google account access, like email-based MFA and MFA credentials backed up to Google servers. Through account-requiring sharing services, it encourages users to compel others to use Google services as well, with things like shared calendars, documents, files, and photographs. It ties basic features on phones, even through third parties, to its services: as far as I can tell, if you have an Android phone other than a Samsung, using it for contactless payments is only possible via Google, because of agreements between Google and banks, and through SafetyNet, accessing basic banking services requires using Google-blessed operating systems and allowing a certain level of access to Google. At a broad level, by encouraging use of Recaptcha, even accessing basic public services in many countries practically requires agreeing to Google's terms of use, especially as Covid seems to have provided an excuse for what appears to be becoming the often permanent suspension or limitation of many non-online and in-person access methods. As an example, in order to pay my California property taxes online, on a state website, I must agree to Google's terms of service, and Google is, in its sole discretion, able to decide whether I should be allowed to pay online or not.

    But then, at the same time, Google seems to assert their right to unilaterally and immediately stop doing all business with an individual, for any reason, and with no real recourse. This might make sense for a normal business, but it comes into conflict with an entire business model built around the suggestion that this isn't a possibility, and that using Google services is both safe and necessary for comfortable everyday life. Thanks to the poor individual protections and lopsided legal system in the US, it appears that they are able to position their largely algorithmically-based and business-protecting views of incidents as being above actual state views. Here, Google's comments to the NY Times appear to be saying that they believe these individuals are guilty of child sexual abuse, despite state investigations deciding otherwise. This would appear to be clearly defamatory, and yet there is no consequence. Similarly, they are able to have policies that essentially cut off all access to personal data, with no consequence. Legal protections in the EU would presumably prevent the latter through GDPR's right of access, and I think would also go a reasonable way in creating consequences for the former, both through defamation law, the GDPR, and right of human review, but in the US, it appears that Google is ultimately the arbiter of these matters. And Google, as with other large online services, seems to be able to label as human review workers paid simply to approve algorithmic decisions.

    Frustratingly, in these stories, all too often the user is vaguely blamed for having done something not quite right, or people are vaguely advised to avoid activities that might cause problems for Google's algorithmic judgements. Here, in order to avoid triggering Google's algorithms and NCMEC's participation, it appears that some organizations make statements advising parents not to follow advice of their pediatricians: even if the pediatricians' advice might be problematic, and it would be safer to build more secure, dedicated systems for these sorts of medical communications, it seems dangerous to suggest that users should prioritize Google's algorithmic review over their children's doctor, and it is advice that seems to ignore that fact that in-person access to medical services is being made increasingly difficult. And there seems to be no advice at all about recovering from the situation of having Google decide, contrary to the state decision, that you are a criminal, and be confident enough to stand behind this classification publicly in the New York Times.

    Alternatively, these stories are given as examples of why people should avoid using large internet services, but this often overlooks just how difficult and limiting that can be. The article seems to give examples of consequences that can largely be seen as having been preventable: had the user kept their data backed up elsewhere, for example, or had they not relied on Google's email being an important part of their identity. But not all consequences of being banned from Google services, or declining to use them, seem so avoidable. In academia, many universities throughout the world have Google or Microsoft services as integral to their IT systems, and I expect many business do as well. Many organizations also use Google services informally, for example, for collaborating on documents, or for scheduling through Google Calendars. Socially, many organizations exclusively rely on large internet company services to communicate, and many people only use walled-garden communication systems, effectively limiting the ability of people who don't use them to form connections except amongst certain tech-and-privacy-inclined cultures.

    So, if you're a business that uses Google Calendar to schedule shifts, and one of your employees is suddenly unable to use Google Calendar, isn't it easier to fire them? If you have an employee who is no longer allowed to have a Google account, or Microsoft account, is it worth changing your entire email, document storage, and meeting system, or build accommodations for them, just to keep them? If you're a company that contributes heavily to open source projects, and Microsoft's algorithms decide to ban one of your programmers from Github, how are they going to continue to be a productive employee for you? And if an employee won't use these services, why would you hire them? If you're a bank, why deal with customers who don't have Google-or-Apple approved smartphones, when you can rely on those companies for security at the cost of excluding some edge cases?

    It's a real concern, and likely does need some regulation: if your business model is built around trying to make use of your services practically necessary to be part of society, then you should not be able to turn around and arbitrarily ban people from using those services, regardless of whatever fine print you might write to absolve yourself of responsibility. And if you decide that you, not the state, should be able to pass judgement on people, then should you not also be subject to the sorts of regulations a state making such decisions would be?

    16 votes
  10. Comment on How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire in ~music

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Current was perhaps not the ideal word: I didn't necessarily mean to say that older technology couldn't, just that we can now. But CDs are not utterly beyond human perception. Arguably, a 44.1 kHz...

    Current was perhaps not the ideal word: I didn't necessarily mean to say that older technology couldn't, just that we can now.

    But CDs are not utterly beyond human perception. Arguably, a 44.1 kHz sample rate is not high enough for exceptional human hearing in ideal conditions (arguably 28 kHz, if loud enough). Bit depth is probably a larger limitation, in that, with excellent hearing, CD audio does not have enough bit depth to entirely cover the range of human perception of volume (though it does have enough to cover safe volumes, if the range is used well). The much, much larger problems of audio quality on CDs are almost always going to be related to bad use of the ranges and bad mastering. But while reasonable choices for sane listening, CDs do leave some room for someone to argue that they might be missing something perceptible, in some exceptional circumstances.

    But raise the sampling rate and bit depth, or otherwise go beyond CD audio, and you quickly get into areas where there's simply no rational way to argue that anyone, regardless of hearing, could possibly perceive a difference.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire in ~music

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I'm strongly opposed to pseudoscientific audiophilia. However, I do think that calling 4×DSD 256 times higher resolution than CD audio is somewhat problematic. It's a fundamentally different...

    I'm strongly opposed to pseudoscientific audiophilia. However, I do think that calling 4×DSD 256 times higher resolution than CD audio is somewhat problematic. It's a fundamentally different encoding: yes, the sample rate is 256 times higher, but it's a one bit sample (after all, having an 11 MHz sample rate would be utterly ridiculous for conventional encoding). DSD at CD audio's sample rate wouldn't work at all. It's right to call 4×DSD much, much better than CD audio, but I don't think that 4×DSD is necessarily better than conventional PCM encoding at comparable sample rates and bit depths. Of course, either way, it's right to say that, with current technology, it is possible to make a digital copy of a recording that is utterly beyond any possible human perception.

    I also think that perhaps, as the article suggests, MoFi might be rightly blamed here for not being more open about the digital recording here not because is was a bad thing, but because it was a good thing, and that by hiding it, they promoted the idea that digital audio is somehow intrinsically inferior, or that analog audio has some sort of magical property. In fact, not having heard about MoFi before, but reading this article, it sounds like what MoFi was actually doing was trying to avoid problems caused by repeated analog steps, which is, ultimately, something are much harder to avoid, and were largely able to do that at scale because of the digital encoding. But on the other hand, as you suggest, perhaps the releases with digital encoding would never have been accepted otherwise, the reviewers would not have held them in such high esteem, and the impact of this revelation would have been far less.

    But then perhaps the true magical property of analog audio is not the quality, but the exclusivity. The degradation, generational loss, and difficulty in copying at scale limits the number of copies that can be made and sold, and those copies are inherently physical objects. They also mean that ‘better’ copies, closer to the original masters, must be more limited, and something that can't be generally available. Here, ultimately, perhaps the true scandal, the true betrayal by MoFi, is that many people who bought these might have been buying them not because they were better, but because they were something that not just anyone could have: they were truly limited objects, not just by trust, but by technological limitation. Now, the vinyl they have is no more exclusive than the digital file. MoFi could make as many copies as they want. They could release the digital file, and everyone in the world could have a copy that would be better than the vinyl. The releases are no longer something exclusive. And maybe that's what many people ultimately cared about.

    4 votes
  12. Comment on Xfce's Xfwm4 sees Wayland port with Wlroots in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Zoom has, as of a little over a month ago, and it seems to work quite nicely.

    Zoom has, as of a little over a month ago, and it seems to work quite nicely.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Reading The Wheel of Time in ~books

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Perhaps this comes from being surrounded by too many academics*, but I personally had the distinct feeling that the weirdness was not limited to specific portions, but rather, the entirety of...

    ... at times it can seem dated or a little cringy. In the end, Jordan was a white, military man from the South. I think he did his best but there are times where things get a little weird.

    Perhaps this comes from being surrounded by too many academics*, but I personally had the distinct feeling that the weirdness was not limited to specific portions, but rather, the entirety of magic in The Wheel of Time was implicitly built around a conservative perspective on heterosexual sex. While it isn't necessarily bad, the feeling did make the descriptions at times seem a bit ridiculous, and I've always been a bit confused that this doesn't seem to be brought up more often.

    The descriptions of the different experiences of saidin and saidar, for example, sound quite a bit like a conservative man trying to describe both sides of penetrative, vaginal intercourse. Women open themselves and "surrender" to saidar, they let it "fill them", "gently guiding" it; metaphors of budding flowers are used. Men "reach out" and "seize" saidin, feeding emotion into it, and while holding it must avoid being swept away. These are experiences that come as a coming of age, and are dangerous and traumatic if uneducated in the risks. While I can't find quick references on other descriptions of the accessing the One Power, I can recall there being some sense of almost unbearable ecstasy, and some sense of buildup, climax, and withdrawal. People can be severed from it, in which case they usually lose all meaning in their lives and are generally meek and depressed.

    And, of course, the Dragonmount as the symbol of saidin is a giant phallic object, while maps of Tar Valon look oddly like a vulva.

    (*)

    I can remember once hearing about an argument that an author was enormously misogynist because he preferred hearths to stoves, and this was clearly because he preferred the phallic signification of chimneys as an expression of male power. That stoves of the time also had chimneys was apparently lost on the scholar, and the author had certainly never made any hint of seeing chimneys in that way.
    2 votes
  14. Comment on Carbon hacking: Least carbon-intensive traveling between US and Europe in ~enviro

    pallas
    Link Parent
    That seems to be a bit misleading, actually. The 140€ per day is for trips that are longer than 13 days. Also, the specific 8 day trip from Le Havre to New York is more expensive, at a minimum of...

    That seems to be a bit misleading, actually. The 140€ per day is for trips that are longer than 13 days. Also, the specific 8 day trip from Le Havre to New York is more expensive, at a minimum of 210€ per day. If you aren't a US citizen, it apparently also requires an explicit visa, not just an ESTA. If you actually need to go to the West coast of the US, you'd then be looking at another 3-4 days on a train, and unless you wanted to spend those three days in a seat somewhat larger than an airline seat (~$500), a room would cost around $1000 one way. So overall, to the west coast, you'd be paying around 2600€ one way, or, it seems, around 5000€ round trip. That's comparable with a good business class seat round trip on a good airline.

    As someone else who lives a life split between Europe and the US, there's no good alternative transport to flying, unfortunately.

    1 vote
  15. Comment on Texas school shooting kills nineteen children, two adults in ~news

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I wouldn't necessarily characterize the move as being a 'hard right turn'. While gun fanaticism is a current tenet of the American far right, I think it's mostly peculiar to the current American...

    I wouldn't necessarily characterize the move as being a 'hard right turn'. While gun fanaticism is a current tenet of the American far right, I think it's mostly peculiar to the current American far right: it is not intrinsic to conservatism. The pre-1977 NRA was also conservative, but in a different way, and gun control itself can be a conservative cause, in the interest of keeping guns away from the 'wrong' sorts of people*, while keeping them available to others. It was, however, a turn to a very different sort of conservatism.

    More likely to have been a major influence was that the NRA supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, and declined to campaign against politicians supporting gun control. But while I had initially been a bit skeptical of the in considering this, I then realized that this in itself is related to the CRA in that, while the GCA was prompted by JFK's assassination, it languished for years until MLK's assassination provided the support needed to pass it, which is why it was passed around the same time as the CRA.

    (* Consider, in the Gun Control Act of 1968, that amongst the prohibitions for the people you'd expect, like a 'fugitive from justice', or someone 'committed to a mental institution', is anyone 'who is an unlawful user of or addicted to marihuana...'.)

    5 votes
  16. Comment on Texas school shooting kills nineteen children, two adults in ~news

    pallas
    Link Parent
    This type of takeover actually did happen at the NRA, just in the opposite direction, in the 1970s, with the Revolt at Cincinnati. Prior to 1977, the NRA was primarily an organization focused on...

    This type of takeover actually did happen at the NRA, just in the opposite direction, in the 1970s, with the Revolt at Cincinnati. Prior to 1977, the NRA was primarily an organization focused on marksmanship, sport and recreation, and hunting (and as a result, also traditional, hunting-perspective environmental conservation, because you can't enjoyably hunt if there's no natural habitat left). It generally supported controls of firearms from an establishment perspective, especially types less suited to hunting and shooting sports, and didn't necessarily support carrying them for self-defence (in the 1930s, in support of the National Firearms Act, Wikipedia quotes the NRA President as saying 'I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.').

    In 1977, NRA leadership planned to move their headquarters from D.C. to a large outdoor centre built for recreational shooting and hunting that they wanted to construct in Colorado, which would of course also symbolically move them away from politics further than they already were. Harlon Carter led a large group of members to oust the leadership, stop the move, and refocus the organization away from marksmanship and toward a strident arms-bearing and anti-gun-control advocacy organization.

    I can remember even into the 1990s, there seemed to be some vestiges of the old NRA in some places, especially around scouting: the old mid-century shooting ranges with only bolt action rifles, the old literature focused on careful, slow marksmanship, and safety. In that NRA, the idea of wanting many of the sorts of weapons they idolize today, and certainly carrying them around for self-defence, would seem sinister. That was the sort of thing you'd do if you were a criminal, or a revolutionary; surely if you were an upstanding member of society (ie, white and not a Marxist) you'd have the police to protect you? It was certainly a conservative, normative perspective, but I feel like it was at least better than the violent anarchy promoted by the NRA now.

    Unfortunately, from a democratic perspective, Carter's guns-guns-guns direction for the organization seems to have been the much more popular one, with the membership tripling after the change. I also would suspect, since they gained power themselves through a democratic overthrow of leadership, that they took steps to defend against someone else doing that in the future.

    17 votes
  17. Comment on Daylight Saving Time Gripe Assistant Tool in ~life

    pallas
    Link
    This does not include my primary gripe with DST, which is that European and American DSTs start and end at different dates, for no good reason, but apparently to appease American candy lobbyists....

    This does not include my primary gripe with DST, which is that European and American DSTs start and end at different dates, for no good reason, but apparently to appease American candy lobbyists. As a result, I have four time changes to deal with per year, which require consideration of multiple time zones that have different offsets at different times during the year.

    I would look forward to the US planning to end DST changes, and the EU planning to end DST changes, as meaning that this frustration will eventually end, but I would not be surprised if the next swing of American political power will reverse the plans before they take place, and the Irish will likely sink the EU's plans, as it may be a frustration for many of us, but probably isn't worth violence at a border.

    4 votes
  18. Comment on Why a tire company is the judge of fine dining in ~food

    pallas
    Link Parent
    It is perhaps surprising because it isn't true. There are restaurants with Michelin stars in Los Angeles, and in San Diego. The Michelin Guide is more properly a series of guides, with different...

    I am surprised to learn that the only Michelin restaurants in the US are in NYC, Chicago, D.C. and San Francisco.

    It is perhaps surprising because it isn't true. There are restaurants with Michelin stars in Los Angeles, and in San Diego.

    The Michelin Guide is more properly a series of guides, with different scopes, perhaps better understood as the physical paper guidebooks that are still released. Within Europe, there are guides at a country level, and more detailed guides for some cities; outside Europe, guides are mostly only for specific cities, with the recent and unusual exception of California, starting in 2019. There are no stars given outside those areas (though I'm aware of some that only very loosely could be considered to be in the cities they were listed in), not because there are not good restaurants, but because there isn't a guide covering them, and inspectors aren't sent. There have been suggestions that different guides can also have different standards, preferences, and styles: I remember accusations that the Tokyo standards were too lenient, and that the New York prose was too purple.

    If the video said otherwise---I strongly dislike the current popularity of using video as a medium needlessly, and so haven't watched it---then it may be outdated, as there was a gap until recently when Los Angeles had no guide. But if so, it also omits the rather interesting story of why Michelin left LA, at some point in the early 2000s, it I recall correctly. Michelin was elitist; LA's culinary culture was elitist; but these were distinct elitisms. So far from being a prestigious distinction locally, LA's food critics and foodies sneered at Michelin as an outdated and undiscerning supporter of ostentatious mediocrity and the passé. It was eventually driven out of the city, with its remains being a few restaurants that continued to note their stars that had never actually been taken away, until at some point many of those restaurants had closed, or changed entirely.

    When Michelin recently returned, it was as an all-California guide, perhaps as a way of trying to avoid a repeat of this experience.

    7 votes
  19. Comment on Has anyone else noticed an inceased number of sites and apps that won't work over a VPN? in ~comp

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link
    I use a wireguard tunnel to an own-ASN IP block essentially all the time on all my devices, which is about the least anonymous configuration possible, and Mullvad through this at times. Mullvad...

    I use a wireguard tunnel to an own-ASN IP block essentially all the time on all my devices, which is about the least anonymous configuration possible, and Mullvad through this at times.

    Mullvad does have problems at times, like most semi-anonymous VPNs, but I haven't noticed it being better or worse. On my own IP blocks, I mostly don't have any problems, with some occasional and frustrating exceptions.

    What's particularly frustrating for me, however, is that it does seem like sites are becoming less honest about their handling of IP-based mechanisms, and that the mechanisms in many cases are not direct and acknowledged blocks, but more the frustrating impediments that one sees in China: ever-changing impediments to using the service behind a VPN, taking a number of forms, which may let you use the service at times, but will make the process frustrating and unreliable. The direct clarity of Wikipedia is rare: it has a prominent notice that editing with a semi-anonymous VPN isn't normally allowed, clear contact processes if you think you've been miscategorized, an explanation of their policies and motivations, and a process for asking for permission to edit with a VPN.

    Many sites will simply say that there's been an unknown error, or will have insecure email/SMS 2FA that won't work (eg, they won't actually send the codes). Others will allow logins, but repeatedly have CAPTCHAs, even when they know it's an authorized browser session (eg, Namecheap, which I'm moving my domains away from as a result). Etsy will apparently allow you to log in some number of times, then completely ban your account.

    The worst case, for me, was trying to log in to eBay after some time, on my IPs, not Mullvad. These were clean IPs, so non-anonymous that a whois lookup will link them directly to my name and a valid full address.

    1. The login page would accept my username and password, then send a 2FA code to my email. Entering that code would result in an "unknown error", and ask me to contact support, who I'm sure would insist they had no idea what was happening.
    2. Turning off the tunnel for a moment, the same code would be accepted. I'd then be fine, except...
    3. When logged in, through the tunnel, trying to change any user setting would result in an unknown error.
    4. In all of this, essentially any action while logged in on the tunnel would result in eBay repeatedly resetting the account's password, and emailing me saying that I'd need to change the password because the account had been compromised.
    5. Oddly, installing their app on my phone and logging in there, despite being on the same IPs and having all location permissions blocked, both works and stopped all of the above from happening on my browser.
    14 votes
  20. Comment on Can someone explain the systemd controversy to a nontechnical user? in ~tech

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    That depends. Some parts of systemd appear to be developed with that in mind, especially the core, and after growing accustomed to systemd units and journalctl, I became frustrated enough trying...

    SystemD really was developed with sysadmins in mind. Ignoring the fact that you no longer need tons of boilerplate to make service management bearable, it makes securing processes much easier.

    That depends. Some parts of systemd appear to be developed with that in mind, especially the core, and after growing accustomed to systemd units and journalctl, I became frustrated enough trying out a server running alpine (non-systemd) that I replaced it with something running systemd. Others appear focused on home systems, with odd and arbitrary design choices that make them difficult or impossible to use for sysadmins on servers. I was certainly surprised, for example, when trying out systemd-homed, I tried to add a user to a group, as root, and... was asked for the user's password, and while it is now fixed, for some time, systemd-homed apparently broke SSH. I use systemd-networkd on a number of systems, both servers and laptops, because it is in principle very nice for the occasionally complex systems I have, and declarative configuration is far better than the maze of NetworkManager or the sequence of commands of ifupdown, but for systems that need to stay up, it's odd that, for some arbitrary design reason, it's essentially impossible to have systemd-networkd reconfigure a network interface (netdev), even when they are interfaces designed to be reconfigured online (eg, wireguard): the apparently official solution is to restart the daemon, which results in a service interruption.

    And like most things involving a certain subset of Linux development, asking for help or clarification about any of these issues, or opening bugs, or making suggestions, can feel like asking for a barrage of toxicity.

    1 vote