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03 Sep 09:55

Death Valley’s famous moving stones, caught in the act

by Scott K. Johnson

Mario is just a video game, and rocks don’t have legs. Both of these things are true. Yet, like the Mario ghosts that advance only when your back is turned, there are rocks that we know have been moving—even though no one has ever seen them do it.

The rocks in question occupy a spot called Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. Playas are desert mudflats that sometimes host shallow lakes when enough water is around. Racetrack Playa gets its name from long furrows extending from large rocks sitting on the playa bed—tracks that make it look as if the rocks had been dragged through the mud. The tracks of the various rocks run parallel to each other, sometimes suggesting that the rocks had made sharp turns in unison, like dehydrated synchronize swimmers.

Many potential explanations have been offered up (some going back to the 1940s) for this bizarre situation, as the rocks seem to only move occasionally and had never been caught in the act. One thing everyone could agree on was that it must occur when the playa is wet and the muddy bottom is slick. At first, suggestions revolved around especially strong winds. One geologist went as far as to bring out a propeller airplane to see how much wind it would take.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

16 Jul 12:53

bye losers!

bye losers!

04 Jun 02:32

Still here.

by Patrick Allan


Still here.

Will you love me?

18 Apr 11:17

Free Speech

I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.
11 Apr 19:32

G-G the book - G-G on Facebook - G-G on Twitter

11 Apr 19:27

Classic: But Who Lifts the Lifters?

Classic: But Who Lifts the Lifters?

Submitted by: (via Bits and Pieces)

Tagged: cars , irony , fail nation , g rated
15 Mar 16:00

riebeckite: veronicaslides: gray-firearms: Train don’t give a...

by thehilariousblog




Train don’t give a fuck


~Dashing though the snow~


15 Mar 15:55

I think my local Target is trying to tell me something. [x]

I think my local Target is trying to tell me something. [x]

15 Mar 15:54

Frozach Submitted

13 Feb 18:54

Why the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Is Even Worse Than You Think

by Brian Barrett on Gizmodo, shared by Whitson Gordon to Lifehacker

Why the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Is Even Worse Than You Think

The mere mention of Comcast and Time Warner cuddling up to form one crummy super-conglomerate is enough to send you running for the pitchforks. But this unholy union—if it passes regulatory muster—goes deeper than MONOPOLY BAD.

To understand just how problematic the tie-up is, it's important to look at both why it's happening and, more importantly, what it will mean for you.

Why Is This Happening?

The short answer: money! But that's the short answer for most things. Let's look at a slightly longer answer.

Since cable companies are largely regional operators, it's sometimes hard to get perspective on just how big they are relative to one another. Comcast is gigantic; it leads the U.S. with nearly 22 million cable subscribers and over 20 million broadband subscribers. Time Warner Cable is the second-biggest cable co., though its rough 11 million cable and broadband subscribers are obviously dwarfed by Comcast's Death Star proportions. Combined, they would represent roughly half of all paying cable-TV-phone customers in the United States.

It's not quite Coke buying Pepsi, but it's close enough to raise alarms. But it's also easier to see why both companies might feel the need to be even bigger. They're threatened from every conceivable angle.

The Threat of Blackout

As the the New Yorker points out, the cost of being a cable company is going up, and you don't need to look very far back in time for an example of the fallout. Last summer, TWC and CBS couldn't reach an agreement on the latter's "retransmission consent" fee. These kinds of disagreements happen all the time, and lead to posturing you might be familiar with. Call your cable company now if you want to continue enjoying these programs.

This time, though, what had been a familiar game of posturing ended with CBS blacked out for millions of Time Warner Cable customers. For an entire month. The only thing that repaired the relationship was the onset of the NFL season.

A stalemate that long, though, proved to cable providers that they no longer have the leverage they once thought. And the quickest way to gain leverage is size.

The Threat of Cord Cutting

This is a point that's been repeated often enough, for long enough, that you don't need much background. Suffice it to say, though, that thanks to cable alternatives like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Aereo, the TV industry is coming off its worst year ever. Companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable are losing customers by the hundreds of thousands every quarter. It is not sustainable.

Again, size matters. By combining forces, Comcast and TWC will be able to capture whatever cable TV market is left, even as it dwindles. And because they barely overlap in coverage areas, it's almost pure addition. There's not a lot of redundancy here:

Why the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Is Even Worse Than You Think

The Broadband Future

The more important—though less visible—reason for the team-up? Broadband. These companies don't just control what happens on your teevee box. They control the pipes that get the internet to your house. In five years, which do you think will be more important? How about in 20?

As GigaOm notes, broadband is already the most profitable segment of both Time Warner Cable and Comcast's businesses. Even if everyone abandons their 400-channel subscriptions for their Roku HD, they'll still be paying for that streaming video goodness. And that's a much harder business to disrupt than television is; there's no reliable DirecTV for internet.

So the reasons for the merger go a little deeper than you might have suspected. But so would the fallout.

What Will It Mean For You?

As mentioned before, the two companies have virtually zero overlap in footprint, which means that many people will have exactly as much choice as they did before the merger. That doesn't mean that it's without serious consequences.

Public interest group Free Press addressed the issues in broad strokes, but the money quote is here:

No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they could watch or download.

Which is true! No one did. But why not?

Being as large a company as TWComcast has many advantages, but the most dangerous and damning of them is that it makes things easy. Easy to bully content providers into favorable deals (remember, Comcast also owns NBC). Easy to raise prices in areas where there's effectively no competition. Easy to implement a broadband data cap—sorry Time Warner Cable customers, but Comcast has one—and to throttle speeds and charge exorbitant rates for anyone who goes above it. Easy to dismantle net neutrality single-handedly.

Most of all, though, it's easy to do nothing. Improving things is both hard and expensive. That's why Intel abandoned ship on its TV of the future. And it's why TWC and Comcast won't make much of an effort to build one. By owning both cable and internet connections for the near-majority of American households, TWComcast would give customers nowhere to run. It's hard to escape a sinking ship if the same company also owns the ocean.

Also, prices will go up. They were going to anyway, obviously. But now there's no real way to stop them.

Will It Go Through?

A Comcast-TWC tie-up seems so aggressive, so distasteful, so monopolistic that there surely must be someone who can stop it. And there is! That someone is the FCC, which needs to approve the deal before it goes through. Unfortunately, it probably won't.

Remember, Comcast and TWC are not in direct competition in most markets, which makes it an easier sell. Or rather, it gives the FCC a ready excuse, if it's looking for one. Which it almost certainly will be; one of the cable industry's top lobbyists used to be an FCC chairman.

So get ready for TWComcast, everyone. A slow, lazy, expensive behemoth, two wrongs made wronger, with all of us footing the bill.

26 Dec 05:31


by joberholtzer

09 Dec 13:28

CodeSOD: The Uninstalling Installer

by Remy Porter

From a technical standpoint, Digital Rights Management is a WTF- it’s a crypto system which requires the user to have access to the key, and simply hopes to make getting the key out of the device too cumbersome to be worth a pirate’s time. The shoddy technical reasoning behind it sometimes leads to shoddy technical implementations.

Benjamin tried to help a friend install a DRM client on their machine. The installer continuously failed, and perhaps foolishly, Benjamin decided to run it with elevated permissions. After restoring from backup, Benjamin cracked open the installer and looked at some of the shell scripts that it ran.

#! /bin/sh

rm -rf "$3/$2"
rm -rf "$4/$2"
tar -C "$3" -xjf "$1"
if [ -e "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor" ]; then
   chmod 755 "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor"
   chmod u+s "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor"
   chown root:wheel "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor"
if [ -e "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor32" ]; then
   chmod 755 "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor32"
   chmod u+s "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor32"
   chown root:wheel "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor32"
if [ -e "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor64" ]; then
   chmod 755 "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor64"
   chmod u+s "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor64"
   chown root:wheel "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitor64"
if [ -e "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitorKill" ]; then
   chmod 755 "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitorKill"
   chmod u+s "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitorKill"
   chown root:wheel "$3/$2/Contents/MacOS/DcpMonitorKill"
echo "DONE"

A few logging messages made it clear exactly what had gone wrong- the binary which was supposed to trigger the shell script had forgotten to pass any parameters. rm -rf "$3/$2", after variable substitution, executed rm -rf "/", which is a wonderfully concise way to ruin someone’s day.

[Advertisement] Make your team a DevOps team with BuildMaster. Pairing an easy-to-use web UI with a free base platform, BuildMaster gets you started in minutes. See how and others use BuildMaster to automate their software delivery.
21 Nov 18:24

New App Lets People in Abusive Relationships Seek Help Quickly

by Laura Beck on Jezebel, shared by Whitson Gordon to Lifehacker

New App Lets People in Abusive Relationships Seek Help Quickly

Aspire News is a new app out for iPhone and Android that's made for people in abusive relationships. It's an interesting idea, and one that might actually help a lot of people.

From Look Into the Mind:

[I]t's disguised as a regular news app, but when you go to the "Help" section of the app, it leads you to domestic violence resources and also has a "Go Button" that when you press it, if you're in a compromising situation, alerts local authorities as well as local shelters and starts recording everything that is going on.

Now, if you're looking up resources on the app and your abuser is near, simply press the X button and it brings you to a random news page.

I think this is a brilliant idea because it puts information right at the fingertips of the people who need it most. Its creators — one of whom is Robin McGraw, Dr. Phil's wife — took snooping into account by disguising it as a news service which will misdirect an abusive partner, or a friend who is just flicking through the phone. The recording feature, if working, is especially important, because often times there is no evidence against the abuser.

If you need this app, I'd recommend practicing with it in a safe space so that you fully know how to use it. During times of stress, our bodies can't remember to do the most simple of tasks — so that's not the time to figure it out. There's a reason 911 is only three numbers, and even then, people in emergency situations can forget it. Practicing using the app (and keeping it well hidden) will probably be the things that really help in a time of need.

It sucks that such a thing is necessary, but in an awful situation, this could save a life.

[The Aspire App, Look Into the Mind]

18 Sep 04:54

All the Financial Advice You'll Ever Need on a 4x6 Index Card

by Thorin Klosowski

All the Financial Advice You'll Ever Need on a 4x6 Index Card

We often like to think that taking care of our finances is an incredibly complicated affair. However, when it boils down to it, it's supposed to be simple. In fact, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack managed to stuff all the important financial advice he knew onto an index card.

The advice is pretty simple:

Max your 401k or equivalent employee contribution.
Buy inexpensive, well diversified mutual funds such as Vanguard Target 20XX funds.
Never buy or sell an individual security. The person on the other side of the table knows more than you do about this stuff.
Save 20% of your money.
Pay your credit card balance in full every month.
Maximize tax-advantages savings vehicles like Roth, SEP and 529 accounts.
Pay attention to fees. Avoid actively managed funds.
Make financial advisor commit to a fiduciary standard.
Promote social insurance programs to help people when things go wrong.

We've mentioned a few of these tips before, especially the importance of your company's 401(k), overpaying on fees, and saving 20%. As the Washington Post points out, the card is all most of us need to be in much better shape than most Americans.

This 4x6 index card has all the financial advice you'll ever need | Washington Post via Boing Boing

14 Jun 12:40

Secret of Mana illustrator has passed away

by Chris Carter

Legendary artist Hirō Isono, who is best known for working on Squaresoft's Mana franchise (known as Seiken Densetsu in Japan), has recently passed away. He worked on nearly every game in the series from Final Fantasy Adventure in 1991 to Heroes of Mana in 2007.

Did you know that the Mana series was originally a Final Fantasy offshoot, starting with a game called Final Fantasy Adventure? It's a franchise rich with history, and if you haven't checked it out, Secret of Mana is a great starting place. I'll never forget his work.

Secret of Mana Illustrator Hirō Isono Passes Away [Anime News Network]

Secret of Mana illustrator has passed away screenshot

05 Jun 15:45

5 Scary Myths You Probably Believe About the Economy

By Marcus O'Reilly  Published: June 05th, 2013  Pundits love to tell us that the American economy is circling the drain due to the recession and politicians throwing money out the window like it's made of bees. To hear them say it, America is always just on the cusp of a Mad Max-style blasted hell
03 Jun 20:33

Six Communication Tricks That Will Get Your Kids to Cooperate

by Tessa Miller

Six Communication Tricks That Will Get Your Kids to Cooperate

As the parent of a preschooler, I often notice myself feeling frustrated and asking myself, “Why won’t she cooperate?!” If you have a young child at home, I know you understand. There are times when I’m tired or hungry or in a rush and I just want my daughter to do exactly as I say instantly without questioning, avoiding, or delaying.

What I’ve noticed is that as soon as I get attached to things going a certain way, my daughter has different ideas. I can understand why. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything. Not even young kids. Or maybe especially not young kids. I mean, toddlers and preschoolers are just developing their will and learning to act independently of us. So, of course they’re going to push back when we thrust our will upon them.

As a preschool teacher and now as a mom, I’ve discovered that there are certain things I can do that greatly increase the chances that kids will cooperate with me. Here are six secrets to getting kids to cooperate that have worked like a charm for me:

Invite, Don’t Demand

We all want our children to “ask nicely,” but the truth is, that’s easier said than done. My question is, where do you think they learned to be demanding and inflexible? Oh yeah, from us! If we want our kids to cooperate, then we’ve got to be the bigger, more mature ones and lead by example. Contrary to popular belief, asking nicely, inviting, and working together to find a solution to a problem doesn’t teach children to be more defiant or disobedient, instead, by doing these things you’re laying a foundation of trust and teamwork that your kids will soon learn to rely on.

Use this quick test to figure out whether your request is actually a demand. Ask yourself, “Would it be OK if they answered ‘no’ to this request?” If not, then you’re not actually inviting or asking, you’re demanding or requiring a specific behavior. That’s OK some of the time, especially if safety is an issue, but remember, the more demands you make on your kids, the less true, internally motivated cooperation you’re likely to get.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have expectations of your children. It’s just that when those expectations aren’t met, it’s helpful to see that as an opportunity to problem solve together, rather than an excuse to punish them into submission.

Turn it Into a Game

Kids love to play. When you can make something fun, they’re far more likely to get on board. This does require some creativity and spontaneity on your part. When your child refuses to leave the park, can you find a way to make getting to the car more fun? Maybe you’ll pretend you’re firefighters and you have to jump into the firetruck to go put out the fire. Or perhaps you’ll race, or hop like a bunny, or offer a ride on your shoulders. Making things more fun isn’t just a great way to gain your child’s cooperation, it’s also a way to enjoy your time with them more. I mean, which would you prefer, a power struggle where you force your child kicking and screaming into his care seat or a fun game in which he climbs in willingly?

If you’re not sure what kind of a game will work best, tune in to your child’s interests. If she loves princesses, then you’ll be her knight in shining armor or her trusty steed. If he’s into trucks, you can ask if he wants to be fork-lifted into the car. Or maybe you’ve just read a story about a friendly fish, so try acting it out! If you just can’t seem to come up with an idea, ask your child what to play. Most kids are more than ready with a suggestion for a fun game or activity that you can alter slightly to fit your agenda.

Stop Repeating Yourself

This is a mistake we all make, especially when we’re not getting the results we want. Trust me that repeating yourself is the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to foster cooperation. Your child heard you the first time, and by repeating yourself, you’re simply training her to stop listening and wait for you to get frustrated before she acts.

Children are discovering all sorts of things about the world around them, including vast amounts of information about social/emotional dynamics. When they throw you off your game or induce you to get frustrated or upset, they’re gathering very interesting data about how to get what they want and what might cause you to reconsider your position. Don’t fall prey to their cunning.

When you can keep your cool and maintain clear boundaries, your kids will still test you, but after they’ve tested all their theories about how to get around your rule with no success, they will find other areas far more interesting and emotionally rich.

Be Forgetful

But what about when you’ve asked once and they’re not responding? Instead of asking again, take a different tack. Be forgetful and invite them to remind you what you said a moment ago. “Wait, I forget, didn’t I just ask you to do something? What was that? I think we were getting ready to go somewhere, but can you please remind me where?”

This allows the kids to be the smarter ones and if there’s one thing children love, it’s being smarter and more capable than adults.

Let Them Be In Charge

That’s why you’ll get a lot more cooperation when you allow them to be in charge. No need to constantly corral them, just put one child in charge of getting everyone ready and out the door and you’ll be surprised how quickly it will happen. This works especially well with my daughter when I underestimate her abilities and she gets to prove how smart and capable she is. “You don’t know how to do that all by yourself, do you?” And then when she has her shoes on and is climbing into her car seat, “Wow, you knew exactly what to do to get ready to go and you did know how to do it!”

Cooperate With Them

There are times when even the most cooperative child just needs some extra help. This could be because they’re tired, sick, hungry, or just feeling sad and disconnected. So if nothing else seems to work, offer to help. During times like this, we like to play a game in which my daughter pretends to be a baby and I have to do everything for her. After just a few moments of this game, she is far more willing to do what I’ve asked or help me with something. That’s because she knows that when she really needs some extra support, I’m there to willingly and happily provide her with the support she needs.

6 Secrets to Getting Kids to Cooperate | Lifehack

Shelly Phillips is passionate about being the best human she can possibly be and supporting others to do the same. She has helped hundreds of clients overcome personal challenges and develop the skills to live happier, more authentic lives. You can find her conscious parenting blog here, and Her Authentic World team here: Follow her on Twitter here or email her at shelly at

Illustration by Tina Mailhot-Roberge.

Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.

01 Jun 23:44

Return a Lost Driver's License By Dropping It In Any Mailbox

by Shep McAllister

Return a Lost Driver's License By Dropping It In Any Mailbox

Should you ever come across someone's lost driver's license, how would you go about getting it back to them? The answer is simpler than you might think.

If you're in the US, you can just drop the ID into any postbox, and the postal service will take care of getting it back its owner, no stamp required. Once I read this, I realized I had no idea what I would have done if I found a lost ID. It's nice to know that it's this simple, and doesn't require any phone calls or paperwork on the good samaritan's part.

The flip side of this is to be sure to update your license every time you move. If you have an old address listed, your ID might never get back to you, or could even end up in some else's hands.

LPT: If you find a lost driver's license, you can drop it any USPS mailbox as is. The post service will deliver it back to the driver. | Reddit

Photo by theople.

24 May 17:55

Stop Windows from Restarting Your Computer After Updates

by Whitson Gordon

Sometimes, Windows downloads important updates and decides it's going to restart your computer whether you like it or not. Here's how to disable that behavior.

This has been part of Windows for a long time, and while Microsoft tried to fix it in Windows 8, the annoyance still remains. When you see that screen that says your computer's going to restart in 15 minutes, you just grit your teeth and accept it.

But, there's actually an easy way to fix this—and it works in Windows 7, too. You just need to make a small tweak to the registry:

  1. Head to the Start menu or screen and type "regedit" (no quotes). Start the Registry Editor that pops up.
  2. Navigate to:
    On many computers, you won't see the "WindowsUpdate" key. To create it, right-click on the "Windows" key in the sidebar and go to New > Key. Name the key WindowsUpdate, then right-click on that key and create a new one called AU.
  3. Click on the AU key and, in the right pane, right-click on the empty space and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  4. Name the new DWORD:
    Double-click on the new DWORD and give it a value of 1.
  5. Reboot your machine and from now on, Windows will not force you to reboot after installing updates. Of course, when you install updates, you should still reboot your computer—and that responsibility is now on you—but this makes sure Windows doesn't catch you by surprise.

Again, this registry key has been around for a long time, and should work in Windows 7 as well (but we thought it was worth revisiting for Windows 8). You can also perform the same task with the Group Policy Editor if you're on Windows 8 Pro. Hit the link below to see how.

Prevent Windows From Restarting Your PC After Windows Updates | How-To Geek

02 May 01:06

Needs To Press Paws

by Not Always Right

(Retail | NC, USA)

Retail | NC, USA

(I am cashier at a pet store. I see a man walk into the store, pick up a large and expensive coffee table book on show dogs, and get in my line. My manager has warned me, and shown me a picture of this man. He tries to convince cashiers to give him a refund for items he has just stolen. I immediately page my manager, who, unbeknownst to me, is tied up with a minor medical emergency in the back of the store.)

Thief: “I want to return this item.”

Me: “Do you have a receipt?”

Thief: “No.”

Me: “I’m very sorry, sir. Without a receipt, I cannot give you a refund.”

Thief: “Give me a refund.”

Me: “Sir, I watched you pick that book up when you came in. I know you did not buy it.”

Thief: “Give me the f****** money, or I’ll kick your a**.”

(Most of the customers in my line start backing away.)

Me: “Sir, I cannot give you any money, and if you leave with that item I will call the police. Please leave the store.”

Thief: “You little a**-hole!”

(The thief grabs the front of my shirt, and rears his arm back to punch me. I throw my arms up to shield my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of movement. The next thing I see is a spatter of blood on my counter, and the man out cold on the floor with a bloody nose. My manager, with a paramedic from the earlier emergency, walks up.)

Manager: “What the heck just happened?”

(As I tell my story, an assistant manager calls the police, opens another line, and checks out the waiting customers. The paramedic starts checking on the man, who has a clearly broken nose. The man slowly regains consciousness, and points to me.)

Thief: “She assaulted me! I’m going to sue!”

(I talk to the police.)

Me: “He grabbed me, but I never hit him. I don’t know how he got hurt!”

(The man, a known criminal, is handcuffed and put in the police car. The officers and my manager go to review the security cameras. About ten minutes later, I get called to come back to the office.)

Manager: “You have got to watch this!”

(The camera footage clearly shows the man getting the book, getting in line, arguing with me, and then grabbing my shirt. At that moment, the customer in line after him, a tiny, middle-aged Asian woman, leaps up, grabs the hair on the back of his head, slams his face into my counter, and then calmly steps back to where she had been standing. She did it so quickly, that we have to run the footage back on slow to see exactly what she had done. After the thief is out cold, she walks over to the new line that the assistant manager opened, buys her bag of cat food with cash, and leaves without a word. Apparently, the other customers either didn’t see what she did, or decided to keep their mouths shut. We have no idea who she is, and we never see her again. The thief was charged with assault on me, and arrested. Wherever you are lady, thanks! You’re my personal super hero!)