Shared posts

30 Mar 16:22

Cop fired for exposing department policy where cops have sex with prostitutes, then arrest them

by Mark Frauenfelder

Countercurrent News: "A police officer in Arkansas recently lost his job after he exposed a massive scheme that allowed officers to have sex with prostitutes and then arrest them for servicing the undercover cops."

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30 Mar 14:34

Coney Island’s Legendary Cyclone Roller Coaster Strands Riders On Opening Day

by Mary Beth Quirk

I worked as a rides operator at an amusement park one summer, and one of the perks was that someone had to ride all the 'coasters in the morning before the customers got there. I'm surprised that they didn't do a test run in this case, because it seems like a huge liability issue.

There’s nothing like that first day at the amusement park, when it feels like spring is maybe, possibly, finally on its way, when you get to climb into that roller coaster for its very first ride of the season… and then you’re stuck high up in the air, wondering how it all went wrong. That’s the tale of yesterday’s Coney Island visitors who scored a free ride on opening day yesterday.

The Cyclone roller coaster is 88 years old, and as such, beloved by visitors to Luna Park in Brooklyn’s Coney Island area. The first 100 people to enter the park yesterday were offered the first ride of the season for free, reports CBS New York, in what was supposed to be a gloriously happy event.

Instead, riders were forced to climb down from the coaster when it got stuck near the summit during its opening cruise, about 10 feet from the highest point. About two dozen riders were helped down and along a walkway next to the tracks by staff members, after 15 minutes of being stranded on the train.

Though officials say a safety mechanism keeps the train from rolling backwards on an upward climb, riders say it wasn’t fun.

“We could feel that there was something wrong,” one woman told CBS New York. “It started slowing down.”

It’s unclear what caused the train to get stuck, but a spokeswoman said it was likely a small mechanical glitch. The ride will remain closed until an inspection finds that it’s safe to reopen.

Coney Island Cyclone Gets Stuck On First Public Ride Of Season [CBS New York]

23 Mar 04:02

This Man Needs Help

by submission

Author : Gray Blix

The music was driving him crazy. Or rather, he feared, he heard music because he was already crazy.

“Which came first” he asked himself loudly, so he could hear himself speak over the music, “the Louis Armstrong or the lunatic?”

Others sorting through clothes in the thrift store cast wary glances at him.

The Armstrong piece was one of his favorites, but he had grown to like almost the entire repertoire, even the classical stuff. He selected a red ski jacket with white racing stripes. Not his style, but the warmest one in his size.

Of course, it wasn’t only music that ran through his mind and dominated his consciousness. There were sounds of birds and heartbeats and trains and Morse code and scientists giving lectures and others speaking in foreign tongues saying he knew not what. It had begun almost a year ago, never stopping since, and it had ruined his retirement.

He dug into his pocket for six crumpled dollar bills, which he handed the gray haired lady at the register. He had taken note of her on a previous shopping trip. No wedding ring. About his age. If he hadn’t thought himself crazy, and if she hadn’t thought him crazy, he might have asked her out. But, no. A man prone to shouting over the sounds in his head wouldn’t stand a chance with a fine woman like that.

The sounds of the mother kissing her crying baby always stopped him cold. The child calmed down, as he did. He left the store, emerging into a snowfall. Thick flakes soon covered his ski jacket, but he was comfy inside, listening to some sort of electrical sounds.

“What is that infernal static?”

“It’s a pulsar.”

“Well, shut it off and play more of that classical…” He realized that something new had happened. Had the soundtrack become interactive?

“Uh, remind me, what exactly is a pulsar?” he said, barely loud enough to hear his question.

“It is a neutron star that emits pulses of electromagnetic radiation as it rotates.”

He leaned against a brick wall.

“Of course. I knew that. But I don’t think I know you.”

“I am just passing through. I very much enjoyed your recording. I wanted to thank someone. Thank you.”

He slid down the wall to a sitting position. A young lady stopped to hand him a dollar bill.

“Thank you,” he said to her.

“No, thank YOU,” said the voice.

“But I didn’t do anything to deserve thanks.”

“So, you are modest as well as talented.”

“Talented? I used to be talented. Many years ago I was talented. I was a technician for NASA. I wore a bunny suit in the clean room and I assembled… I assembled…”

“Are you all right?” said the young lady, still standing over him.


“And yet your connection to it somehow brought me across your solar system directly to you,” the voice said.

“THIS MAN NEEDS HELP,” the young lady shouted to a policeman down the block.

“Thank you,” he said to the voice.

“No, thank YOU for Voyager.”

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29 Mar 16:36

Stop Fires Fast With Heavy Bass

by Ari Spool

These two George Washington University Students figured out a new way to fight fires: by pumping up the bass.

29 Mar 14:34


27 Mar 19:57

FCC Chair: Net Neutrality Is “Right Choice” Because Big ISPs Want “Unfettered Power”

by Kate Cox

It's almost like he knows something about the industry.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler on May 20, 2014.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler on May 20, 2014.

The net neutrality rule hasn’t yet taken effect, but it’s been under heavy political fire for the past few weeks. Lawmakers hauled FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC commissioners in before a series of Congressional committees to justify (or, for dissenting commissioners, to vilify) the open internet rule. Those hearings, in large part, were heated and adversarial. But in a speech at Ohio State’s law school today, Wheeler took the chance to say everything that committee members cut him off from.

Why is net neutrality so important? Because otherwise, Wheeler said, “private gatekeepers,” like Comcast and Verizon, “will have unfettered power to control commerce and free expression.”

He reiterated his support for the new rule that the FCC voted to adopt late last month, saying, “I believe that the result will be overwhelmingly positive for consumers and innovators,” before delving into the “avalanche of arguments” that have been brandished against it.

“We have been told that our rules are too clear and too uncertain; that we are too much fixated on the past and too much focused on the future; that we will protect the profits of incumbent broadband providers and that we will threaten them,” Wheeler said. “What should we make of these contradictions, this fog of advocacy?”

Wheeler answered his own question: “We should conclude that the biggest broadband providers in the land have one objective: to operate free from control by their customers and free from oversight from government.”

Major ISPs have basically said as much, in their various filings, comments, and public statements through the last year.

“The true choice is between protecting the gatekeepers, or protecting consumers and insurgents,” Wheeler continued. “To understand the problem, it is necessary to understand the power of the biggest ISPs. Consider this simple fact: About three-fourths of American households have zero or one choice for highspeed, wired broadband to their homes. No choice or one choice,” he said, “does not make an attractive marketplace from a consumer’s perspective.”

After this understatement, Wheeler went on to remind the audience that the large incumbent ISPs, monopolies that they are, have both the ability and the incentive — the tools to act and the financially rewarding outcomes — to disadvantage both companies and consumers when it comes to transmitting content. And that, of course, is where a strong net neutrality rule comes in. If screwing with content and connections is made illegal, they probably won’t do it.

As for those lawsuits against the new rule (and the others likely to follow), Wheeler was confident.

“One final prediction,” he concluded: “the FCC’s new rules will be upheld by the courts. The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, ‘You’re trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, ‘these are common carriers.” We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we’ve had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail. When that happens, the big winners will be America’s consumers and innovators and our economy as a whole.”

“We will,” finished Wheeler, “finally have strong, enforceable rules that assure that Internet remains open now, and into the future. That is, I am confident, the right choice.”

The full text of chairman Wheeler’s remarks is available on the FCC’s website.

24 Mar 16:58

New tactic in war on net neutrality: Strip FCC of enforcement funding

by Jon Brodkin

After losing the battle against net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken his fight to Congress. Today, Pai asked the House of Representatives to strip the FCC of funding it needs to enforce net neutrality rules.

"Congress should forbid the Commission from using any appropriated funds to implement or enforce the plan the FCC just adopted to regulate the Internet," Pai said in prepared statements for an FCC budget hearing. "Not only is this plan bad policy; absent outside intervention, the Commission will expend substantial resources implementing and enforcing regulations that are wasteful, unnecessary, and affirmatively detrimental to the American public."

Pai is one of two Republicans on the FCC. The three-member Democratic majority voted in favor of the net neutrality order. The decision reclassified broadband as a common carrier service and imposed net neutrality rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

23 Mar 20:20

Snowden should be allowed a public interest defense, say European lawmakers

by Glyn Moody

A group of European lawmakers has called on the US government (PDF) to allow the whistleblower Edward Snowden to return to the US from Russia “without fear of criminal prosecution under conditions that would not allow him to raise the public interest defense.” A post on the Open Society Foundations blog explains that Snowden faces up to 30 years of imprisonment under the US Espionage Act of 1917, which does not allow a public interest defense to avoid or mitigate any penalties.

The call comes in a resolution by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is made up of 318 representatives from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe's members. This is significant, Open Society Foundations says, since it “marks the first time that any inter-governmental body has called on the United States not to prosecute Snowden unless he is afforded the opportunity to raise a public interest defense.”

That request comes at the end of a general resolution entitled "Improving the Protection of Whistleblowers." The Legal Affairs Committee points out that "[d]isclosures of information related to national security are generally excluded from protection available to whistleblowers." The resolution seeks to remedy that, and it makes three calls to the Council of Europe's 47 member states: to enact whistleblower protection laws that also cover those working in national intelligence services, to grant asylum to whistleblowers threatened by retaliation in their home countries, and to draw up a binding legal instrument on whistleblower protection.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

27 Mar 23:28

Ban This Sentence From the Stall

by Ari Spool

A vulgar neighbor-to-neighbor experience. Audio NSFW

27 Mar 21:10


by Ari Spool

Reddit’s modification of the popular Bitstrips format places Bert, Ernie, and your other Sesame Street favorites in “adult” situations. SFW!

27 Mar 07:00

This Video Will Teach You How to Become Batman (It's Expensive)

by Katharine Trendacosta

This video by Joe Bereta covers how to become Batman — or someone like Batman. Shockingly, it's full of a lot of real-world information and not just movie magic. Although, Bereta does repeat a lot that breaking the law is a bad idea.

The real takeaway from all the things mentioned in this video: The batcave is the most expensive part. Geez.

Not mentioned, however, is the awesome and actually protective batsuit made by Philadelphia University student Jackson Gordon. If you really want to be Batman and not just like Batman, that's the way to go.

Contact the author at

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26 Mar 22:47

Ed, Edd and Eddy: Well Said!

by Brad
26 Mar 18:30

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

by Patricia Hernandez

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Z is finally on Steam—and fans of the anime are pretty excited about that. They're also pumped about the opportunity to, um, beat up Krillin.

You can find potshots galore on the Steam reviews page for Xenoverse—but, most of these jabs are clearly made by fans that know the franchise very well. Let's face it: our favorite DBZ characters are pretty goofy, and there's no better way to express our love than by making fun of them.

Here's what people are saying about Dragon Ball Xenoverse on Steam:

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

Dragon Ball Xenoverse, As Told By Steam Reviews

You can check out more Steam reviews for Xenoverse here, or check our our ongoing "As Told By Steam Reviews" feature here.

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26 Mar 23:00

Here's Portal Running On The 3DS. Pity Valve Didn't Make It.

by Luke Plunkett

Here's Portal Running On The 3DS. Pity Valve Didn't Make It.

Hey, remember Portal on the DS? Well, Portal (or at least a demo of it) is now also on the 3DS. It's not an official Valve product, of course—as if Valve would ever make another video game!—but it still does the job.

The clip you're seeing here is from the demo for a homebrew project that has a few levels and shows off most of the game's famous mechanics. Considering the hardware it's running on, it looks great!

The demo's creator, Smea, is the same guy who made Portal on DS. He says that while he's "not yet sure what my future plans for this are for this game", he'd also "love to make it into the full game it deserves to be by implementing more gameplay elements, improving performance and getting some higher res assets in there".

In case someone else wants to work on it too, or take up where he leaves off if he has to stop working on it, he's posted the source code online.

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25 Mar 16:57

Restaurant Uses Surveillance Footage To Disprove 1-Star Yelp Review

by Chris Morran

dropcamBeing unable to get a seat at a busy restaurant where you don’t have a reservation is probably not a justifiable reason to give the place a one-star writeup on Yelp. But if you are going to put that negative stamp on a restaurant, at least tell the truth.

A man in California recently posted a one-star takedown of a Chinese food eatery in Millbrae, CA, saying that he’d been refused seating — possibly because he was wearing a baseball cap and untucked shirt — that a server had treated him rudely and that he finally left after waiting a minute.

Again, that doesn’t seem like much of a reason to give a restaurant the lowest possible rating, but this is why you have to actually read Yelp reviews rather than just look at the star ratings.

But, as reports, this particular complaint caught the attention of the restaurant owner’s son, who scrubbed through security camera footage to see if he could identify the incident described in the review.

He first posted a 45-minute clip of waiting area footage on the restaurant’s website, writing to Yelper Dan, “If at any time you see yourself walk in and talk to the server, let me know, and I will gladly post a large banner that says ‘I’m sorry Dan for calling you a liar’. Otherwise, you must be hearing voices, because I sure don’t see you talking to anyone in the restaurant.”

The son then posted shorter clips, including one from another angle, showing just the few seconds that Dan was actually in the restaurant. You can see in these videos that the man enters, looks around, talks to no one — not even the others waiting for a table — and then exits without writing his name on the waiting list.

“You spent a total of 22 seconds in the establishment,” writes the owner’s son. “This video also clearly shows that there were other patrons waiting. We are sincerely sorry that we forgot to recognise your very, very ‘VIP’ status… a status so special that you don’t have to sign the waiting list like everyone else… I’ve never been to a restaurant where to refuse to seat people because they’re wearing what you were wearing… You’re dreaming if you think that’s why you didn’t get service.”

Dan later updated his Yelp review to simultaneously and paradoxically claim that (A) the video is not of him, and (B) that he didn’t give permission for his image to be used. He also accused the eatery of bullying him for not giving a positive review.

But the owner of the restaurant tells Ratter that he has no hard feelings about the incident, saying that “If (Dan) comes here I will shake his hand and I will take care of his meal. What can I do to make this person happy? That is my philosophy.”

[via Eater]

26 Mar 13:10

How To Read Twilight

by Ari Spool

HowToBasic explains how to correctly read –and interpret – the world’s most popular tween vampire soap opera. Headphones users: you might want to turn it down a bit.

25 Mar 13:45

New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast’s Incompetence, Lack Of Competition

by Chris Morran

Only months after moving into his new home in Washington state, Consumerist reader Seth is already looking to sell his house. He didn’t lose his job or discover that the property is haunted. No, Seth can’t stay much longer because no one can provide broadband service to his address; even though Comcast and CenturyLink both misled him into thinking he’d be connected to their networks and in spite of the fact that his county runs a high-speed fiberoptic network that goes very near to his property.

Like an increasing number of Americans, Seth works from home, meaning that it’s vital that he have a reliable high-speed Internet connection at all times. That’s why before he even put an offer on the house in Kitsap County, WA, he contacted Comcast to confirm that he could get service to his potential new address.

According to Seth, who has kept a detailed timeline of events, one Comcast sales rep even said that a previous resident at this address had been a Comcast customer. Seth says he tried to get it in writing that the house was serviceable, but Comcast said they simply do not do that.

Then, on Jan. 31, a Comcast tech came out to perform what should have been a quick installation, only to find that there was no cable infrastructure leading to Seth’s property. Thus began a months-long saga of pointless appointments before Seth ultimately hit a dead end last week.

What follows is the story of Seth’s quest to get broadband from someone, anyone, so he doesn’t have to sell his beautiful new home. According to, Seth has 10 options for broadband access at his new address, including a municipal network. But does he really? If Comcast refuses to provide service, can Seth choose another viable provider? Surely one of these 10 listed options will work for him, right? The answer may surprise you.

Parade Of Fools

Image courtesy of Steven DePolo


#1 (Jan. 31): Tech shows up for scheduled appointment. Says there is no line to the house. Leaves.
#2 (First week of Feb.): Tech shows up without appointment. Says there is no line to the house. Leaves.
#3 (Feb. 9): Tech shows up for scheduled appointment. Say there is no line to the house. Leaves.
#4 (Third week of Feb.): Tech shows up without appointment. Says there is no line to the house. Leaves.


On Jan 31, as soon as the Comcast tech arrived at Seth’s house, he noticed a problem — no Comcast box on the outside of the house or anywhere near it. He gave Seth the bad news that the only way he’d get service was if Comcast ran cable from the road to his building.

“He called to set that up for us, and told us he was going to do something called a ‘Drop Bury Request’ to bring in service,” writes Seth. “He filed a ticket and went on his way.”

But that request seemed to vanish into the ether. Seth made repeated follow-up calls to Comcast but — in spite of having a ticket number, and in spite of being made promises that people would call or e-mail him back — no one seemed to have any idea what was going on with his account.

After nearly a week of trying, he finally got through to someone who scheduled for another tech to come out on Feb. 9.

Oddly, a Comcast installer showed up unexpectedly days before that scheduled appointment.

“He just appeared out of nowhere and asked us where our cable box was,” writes Seth. “We explained that we didn’t have one, but that we did have a Drop Bury Request in place. He looked perplexed. He told us that there was no way a Drop Bury Request could possibly get us hooked up, we were too far away from the cable infrastructure. We asked him to contact someone at Comcast to get things resolved, and he left.”

Then on Feb. 9 another tech showed up — at least this one was on schedule — but just like his predecessors, this guy had not been given the memo that the house was not yet connected to the Comcast network. He was just there to hook up a modem and some cable boxes.

Several days later — and again without an appointment — yet another Comcast tech showed up to do an install that simply couldn’t be done.

Kafka Comes To Kabletown

Image courtesy of Kevin Burkett

At some point in the middle of all these pointless appointments, Seth found himself mired in a different Comcast bureaucracy — “Engineering.”

First Seth was told that everything was going fine and that Comcast was in the process of pulling construction permits.

Then, a site surveyor showed up to check out the distance from the house to the nearest Comcast node.

“He mumbled something about how it was going to be a very expensive job, then left,” writes Seth.

On Feb. 20 things got worse. A Comcast rep informed Seth that, despite the visit from the site surveyor, there was nothing in the account notes about an “Engineering” request and that Seth’s original service order had “timed out” because it had been so long since he’d first placed his order with Comcast.

But there was some good news. The rep said Comcast could do a “temporary drop” the next day to get service started ahead of actual construction.

That good news turned bad. Seth answered the door the next morning to hear a Comcast tech telling him, “I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think you have cable!”

The situation became even more confused later that day when yet another Comcast sales rep claimed that the work had been successfully completed that morning and Seth now had service and the ticket had been closed.

Once again, Seth had to place yet another order for service; his second in two days and his third in a month.

And, yes, the “Engineering” request had evaporated from Comcast’s system at some point, meaning an entirely new ticket needed to be opened.

It gets worse.

At this point, Seth had been promised that someone would call him within 24 hours about this new “Engineering” request, and, you guessed it, no one did.

And when Seth finally got sick of waiting and called Comcast, a sales rep claimed that the latest “Engineering” request had been closed as an “invalid ticket.”

Then a few days later — as if to rub it in his face — Comcast actually called Seth to ask him why he’d cancelled his installation appointment.

“They started to upsell me on all the great things I’d be missing out on if I didn’t reschedule!” says Seth. “I just hung up.”

What About DSL?

Image courtesy of frankieleon

Like most pay-TV/broadband providers, Comcast has virtually no competition in many of the areas it serves. And that’s certainly true for Seth’s neighborhood.

But wait, what about CenturyLink?

The CenturyLink website shows that Seth’s address is serviced and that he can get broadband speeds of up to 10Mbps (not terribly fast, but sufficient for many purposes):

After that very first Comcast tech told Seth there was no cable infrastructure to his house, he contacted CenturyLink. The company promised to get him hooked up right away.

But then the next day he got a call informing him that his area was in “Permanent Exhaust” and that CenturyLink wouldn’t be adding new customers. Of course, that didn’t stop CenturyLink from billing Seth more than $100 for service he never received and will never be able to receive. Seth then had to convince someone with CenturyLink’s billing department to zero out the account that should have never been opened.

“Seth’s issue had been ignored, then handed to someone who wouldn’t even be in the office for another 10 days”

We contacted CenturyLink back in February when we first heard about Seth’s story. We asked why: a) Seth’s address was showing up as being served and b) why the company was unable to service that address and also refusing to build out in Seth’s area.

Last Friday, after weeks of e-mail promises from a CenturyLink corporate media rep who repeatedly claimed to be “looking into” the matter, I received the following update that is too ridiculous to keep to myself:

“I have taken a new position with CenturyLink in the last week. I have forwarded your inquires onto M****, my former manager. M**** or one of her staff members will continue to research and follow up with you.”

I don’t usually include this sort of e-mail in my stories, but it shows the level of care with which CenturyLink handled this issue. After more than three weeks of being promised a response, I was being passed on to a new person.

And then to drive that point home, when I wrote to this new contact about the urgency of getting some sort of response, I received an auto-reply stating that M***** was out of the office through March 27.

Seth’s issue had been ignored and then handed to someone who wouldn’t even be in the office for another ten days.

Finally, after pointing out the insanity of waiting three weeks for the results of CL’s thorough research, I was given a one-sentence statement from yet another media contact: “We researched the issue and found that there was an error in our system, which we are updating.”

That was two days ago, and yet as of right now the CenturyLink website still says Seth’s address can get broadband service.

Where’s All That Competition Comcast Talks About?

Image courtesy of Chris WIlson

In spite of all evidence to the contrary (and then some), Comcast insists [PDF] that “the broadband marketplace is more competitive than ever.”

And that might sound reasonable when you look at this chart from showing available broadband services in Seth’s ZIP code:

But when you actually look at the names on this list, you’ll see that the truth is much different.

We’ve already ruled out CenturyLink, as they are unwilling to build out their network even though their own website says it’s available.

Next, most of the providers on this list are wireless cellular companies. While your LTE service might be just as fast as your in-home broadband, the per-gigabyte cost of wireless is outrageously more expensive than cable or DSL service. Seth is currently using a mobile wireless hotspot to connect to the Internet at home, but the costs and limitations are not tenable in the long-run.

Satellite broadband is getting faster and more affordable, but it’s still significantly more expensive for someone who would be using the Internet both day and night for home and business.

Additionally, Seth’s work requires that he have a VPN connection. Unfortunately, the latency on satellite broadband is so high that most residential-level service providers won’t guarantee that customers can access VPNs. So satellite might get TV and some Internet into Seth’s home, but not into his home office. Thus, strike ViaSat from the above list.

What’s that StarTouch Broadband company? Good question. StarTouch uses microwave technology to transmit high-speed data service to parts of Washington state. This may have been the perfect solution for Seth — no need to run cables out to Comcast node; no waiting for CenturyLink to get around to providing service to his area — except StarTouch doesn’t actually cover his neighborhood.

A rep for the company confirmed to Consumerist that the data on is inaccurate and their service does not reach this part of Kitsap County. When Seth called, a rep told him that his area used to be serviced but that someone recently constructed a tall building that effectively blocks the StarTouch signals from reaching him.

Then there’s XO, which provides connectivity solutions for business. We confirmed with an XO sales rep that the company could, in theory, provide T1 broadband service (through CenturyLink). However, it would require that either Seth’s employer purchase the service or that Seth have a business license of his own.

But even if that were possible, the cost would be exorbitant, starting at nearly $600/month with a three-year contract.

One service not listed above — because it’s not even available yet — is the fixed wireless product promised by AT&T if it’s allowed to merge with DirecTV. It may be exactly the kind of thing for someone in Seth’s situation, but we have no idea how quickly AT&T would roll it out post-merger, or which areas it will be available.

Unfortunately, Seth doesn’t have a year or two to wait.

What’s A PUD & Why Can’t It Sell Me Gigabit Broadband Service?

The only remaining option on that list is the gigabit fiber network operated by the Kitsap Public Utility District. That’s right, the county has high-speed broadband lines running not far from Seth’s house.

TelecomMapSo why can’t he just get his service from the county?

Because Washington is one of the half-dozen states that forbids municipal broadband providers from selling service directly to consumers.

The state law in Washington limits the sale of muni broadband service to the wholesale level, meaning Kitsap PUD can only sell network access to resellers.

Back in February, right around the time we heard of Seth’s story, the FCC voted to approve two petitions from muni broadband providers in Tennessee and North Carolina who were looking to get out from under the thumb of state laws restricting the areas they could service.

That gives hope for city- and county-owned broadband providers around the country, but the FCC vote was not a blanket ruling that overturned all overly restrictive local broadband laws. Instead, each law would need to be challenged, meaning Kitsap PUD or some other similar wholesale provider in the state would need to petition the FCC.

PUD officials had no comment on whether they intend to file such a petition or if they’d publicly support one. After all, running a retail-level broadband service may be too expensive an undertaking for a county with only around 250,000 residents.

However, a source at the District did indicate that there is a need for competition and that the mere threat of a possible newcomer in the form of gigabit fiber service could only help consumers like Seth.

Even if the PUD did get the ability to sell directly to consumers, Seth would still need to pay for a build-out of the fiber network to his home. The one major difference is that this cost can be amortized over a significantly longer time period, meaning the consumer would face a lower up-front investment.

And Now The Sad Conclusion Of Seth’s Story…

So with all other options off the table, Seth has had to wait for Comcast to get around to estimating the construction cost for connecting him to the network, and then for the company to decide whether it’s worth it.

Comcast put Seth around 2,500 feet from the nearest connection point, and gave him an initial unofficial estimate of around $20/foot, meaning he’d have to pay $50,000 just to get connected.

That seemed high to Seth, and several people we talked to (who don’t have the specifics of his situation but who are familiar with these sorts of projects) say this is more than most quotes.

Comcast later revised that estimate upward, to as much as $60,000, though Comcast — if it decided to do the work — would pick up some of the tab.

Seth even began looking into hiring his own contractor to do some of the more expensive work on his property in the hopes of bringing the cost down.

After about seven weeks of pointless install appointments, deleted orders, dead ends, and vague sky-high estimates, Comcast told him that it had decided to simply not do the extension. The company wouldn’t even listen to Seth’s offers to pay for a good chunk of the cost.

“I’m devastated,” he wrote at the time. “This means we have to sell the house. The house that I bought in December, and have lived in for only two months.”

“Comcast has lied. I don’t throw that word around lightly or flippantly, I mean it sincerely,” continued Seth. “They’ve fed me false information from the start, and it’s hurt me very badly.”

Seth says he stands to lose a significant chunk of money by selling his house so soon after moving in.

“Three months of equity in a house isn’t a lot of money compared to sellers fees, excise taxes, and other moving expenses,” he explains.

Even though Comcast was given weeks to research and comment on Seth’s story, the company has yet to provide Consumerist with a statement or explanation of how it could not only fail to keep an accurate accounting of serviceable addresses, but why it continued to send tech after tech to do installs that couldn’t be done.

One person we spoke with at Comcast claims that Seth was provided an estimate for what his portion of the construction bill would be, but that he did not agree to pay the costs.

However, Seth tells Consumerist quite the opposite — that he never received anything in writing from Comcast regarding what he would be expected to pay.

“If there was an explicit offer for me to seriously consider paying them, I’d have expected at least that,” he says.

The last he heard from anyone was on March 23, when a regional supervisor mentioned the vague early number of $50,000 to $60,000, but that the supervisor’s message was “there’s nothing we could do for you.”

According to the latest Broadband Progress Report from the FCC, 4% of all Americans — and only 2% of people in Washington state — lack access to even the most basic non-mobile broadband service. But Seth’s story makes us wonder how many consumers are being counted as having access to these services when in fact the service providers refuse to make them available?

That’s why it’s in the best interest of Comcast, CenturyLink and others to assume an address is serviceable just because it falls within a certain ZIP code or municipal boundary — because it gives the illusion that they are providing service to more customers.

And that was fine when the cable companies only provided pay-TV, because you could still get satellite service or just rent a movie. But now that Internet access has become crucial to our work and home lives, broadband providers must be held accountable when they give customers misleading information.

25 Mar 19:28

Under Obama administration, some leaks are more equal than others

by Xeni Jardin
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Depsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presents former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon, 2013. Leaks that benefit these officials are unlikely to be prosecuted.

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Depsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presents former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon, 2013. Leaks that benefit these officials are unlikely to be prosecuted.

Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm tells Boing Boing,

Two stories this week make it perfectly clear that the Obama admin thinks it's okay to leak highly sensitive secrets to newspapers for political benefit.

One involves the contents of Hillary's still-secret emails, but the other is far more interesting: US officials leaked the fact that Israel spied on Iran-US nuclear negotiations to the Wall Street Journal. But more importantly, they also leaked HOW they knew this: because the US spied on Israeli officials too. This is exactly the type of "sources and methods" the national security establishment rakes Edward Snowden over the coals for - including just this week in a WSJ editorial! - but there's not a peep when it's done to further US interests, despite being just as illegal.

Trevor wrote about this for the Guardian today in an op-ed: "It's OK to leak government secrets - as long as it benefits politicians."

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25 Mar 00:34

Give Me All the Home Runs Right Meow

by Ari Spool

Is there a World Series for keeping a straight face in a post-game interview? If so, Gio Gonzales is clearly the champion.

24 Mar 01:45

DayZ Player Sings (And Plays Guitar) For His Life

by Nathan Grayson

DayZ Player Sings (And Plays Guitar) For His Life

What could've been just another blood-soaked tale of DayZ douchebaggery turned into something, well, kinda beautiful.

In this DayZ video from Michael Gramlin, a player is taken hostage with all the traditional fixings—bag over his head, tied up, surrounded, and marinated in a baste of his own sweat and urine—with zero hope of escape. But then his captors make a request:

"If you want to survive, we just need you to sing us a song. Any song. If you don't comply, we'll execute you."

Then a brief moment of silence from the player, possible uncertainty. His captors tell him it can't be anything easy. No happy birthdays or what have you.

"No, no, no, I've got one," he replies. More skepticism from his captors. "Nah, just... just stay put," he adds, so calm you'd think he just woke up from the world's greatest nap.

That's when he picks up an actual guitar—in real life—and starts strumming. He proceeds to play and sing an absolutely gorgeous, not to mention fitting, rendition of "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" by Dave Van Ronk. Everyone else stops aiming their guns at him, puts their hands up, and slowly sways back and forth in time with the music.

DayZ Player Sings (And Plays Guitar) For His Life

The whole moment is... wonderful. It's so fucking cool.

As players struggle to believe it even happened, they promise the guy they're definitely not gonna execute him after all of that. And that's it. He's free to go. DayZ may bring out the worst in people sometimes, but when it delivers, goddamn does it ever deliver.

You're reading Steamed, Kotaku's page dedicated to all things in and around Valve's stupidly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you've found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us an email to let us know.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @vahn16.

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24 Mar 16:35

If You See Ganon On Tinder, You've Gotta Swipe Right

by Patrick Klepek

If You See Ganon On Tinder, You've Gotta Swipe Right

You never know what you might find when you're looking for love.

Twitter user @siegvat was poking around Tinder when they came across an interesting fellow...

so one of my matches on tinder lmfao

— ♔ (@siegvat) March 24, 2015

Here's how Ganon's profile reads:

"Looking for a princess that makes me Tingle. Horses Minions Fear mongering Killing sages Toppling kingdoms Transforming into horrible monsters I don't do dick picks...but I do sword pics 7'6"

Yeah, that sounds about right.

What's he up to, anyway?

"I'm mostly tied up with diplomatic talks. It's easier when they surrender but more fun when they don't. The discussion is terribly dry though. I'm tindering under the table."


A social network has reached a tipping point when people start roleplaying on it, and Tinder's made it. Congratulations, Tinder!

You can reach the author of this post at or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.

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24 Mar 23:30

The Joystick Is Back. Long Live The Joystick.

by Luke Plunkett

I got a copy of flight sim recently and bought my first flight stick.

The Joystick Is Back. Long Live The Joystick.

It's a word that's synonymous with video games, but let's be real: outside of some niche genres the joystick has been dead and buried as a viable control method for well over a decade now.

Note that this post is talking about the traditional definition of a joystick: a single stick that you grab, with the buttons on it. The analog stick, thumbstick and nub may have evolved from the joystick, but as I'll get to, they serve a different master.

Once a mainstay of video game controls on every home computing platform under the sun (and even the earliest consoles), the joystick thrived throughout the 80s and 90s, first because it was the only way you could play a decent action game on PC (since a keyboard and mouse sucked), and later, even following the introduction of control pads, they stuck around because many of the biggest and most popular PC series were space shooters and flight sims, for which a joystick was basically a requirement.

Around the turn of the millennium, though, things changed. People stopped playing flight sims. The Wing Commander and X-Wing games dried up. In 2005 Microsoft's latest home console would change the landscape of PC gaming forever, by giving the platform a third standard peripheral, the Xbox 360 controller, which even a decade later remains ubiquitous.

The joystick was done for. Sure, a few specialist manufacturers clung on, building hardcore systems for hardcore enthusiasts of hardcore flight sims, but the days of every PC gamer having a joystick on their desk were long gone.

I say were long gone because, as I look down at my desk, I see something sitting there that I haven't seen in years. I talk to friends who say the same things: "wow, I dug out my old joystick the other day", or "hahaha guess what I just spent $200 on a H.O.T.A.S."

There's a joystick renaissance going on, and it's a beautiful thing to behold.

The Joystick Is Back. Long Live The Joystick.

The funny thing is, it's not because the joystick itself has somehow been dramatically reinvented. They might look a little cooler than they did in 1994, and be made of better parts, but they're still a stick you move around and press some buttons on. There's not the drastic difference you'd see comparing, say, a SNES controller and a DualShock 4.

No, what's bringing the joystick back is a return of the games that were once its lifeblood. There may not be any new X-Wing games on the horizon, but there are still two very big, new space games you can play in 2015. Elite: Dangerous is the latest instalment in a series that is now 30 years old, while Star Citizen is being made by Chris "Wing Commander" Roberts. The former is now formally and officially "released", while the latter, despite being a work in progress, is still continuously playable for those who have backed its colossal crowd-funding scheme.

And they're just the front-runners. The imminent arrival of virtual reality headsets are sure to usher in a whole new flood of space shooters and flight sims, like EVE: Valkyrie and Enemy Starfighter, as the pairing of a virtual set of eyes to a stationary cockpit scenario is the easiest (and most practical) use of the new technology.

This is good news. Not just for people who sell joysticks, but for people who make video games and, even more importantly, people who play them.

A control pad, or a mouse and keyboard, are devices designed to function. You press buttons, a game responds, that's it. But a joystick, thanks to its design and its similarities with actual military and commercial hardware, is so much more than just an input device.

It's a gateway inside the game world, an immersive tool more effective than any visual flair or trick of sound design. If I play Elite: Dangerous with a control pad, I'm playing a video game. If I play it using my own pro flight system (a fancy joystick with a throttle system), though, saying it's a "video game" suddenly doesn't feel like I'm doing it justice. Pushing the throttle forwards on my desk as my craft lurches into space just feels real, as does using a joystick that looks (and, with its array of buttons, functions) dangerously like the one my in-game avatar is holding.

This is of course nothing new. It's why hardcore driving fans use wheels, or why people still speak fondly of Steel Battalion, despite it being a terrible video game, purely because it shipped with an enormously wonderful custom controller, which turned a terrible video game into something that was a lot of fun.

The Joystick Is Back. Long Live The Joystick.

So, joysticks are coming back! Before we get too carried away, though, let's be clear: just because they're back from the dead (or, at least, the fringes) doesn't mean they'll be everywhere. You won't be seeing seven different varieties of them on GameStop shelves, or be playing Arkham Knight or the next Assassin's Creed with one.

It's also a comeback constrained by cash money; while 20 years ago the most popular joysticks might have been respectable $30 peripherals, it doesn't take long looking through the forums of games like Elite and Star Citizen to see that the sticks people are picking up now cost a lot more than that (a decent H.O.T.A.S. system will set you back around $150).

But the fact people are looking through those forums at all, asking for advice on profiles and settings and even which joystick to buy, is satisfying enough. So long as it's got the right games to play, a joystick isn't just a way to play games, it's a way to make them better.

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25 Mar 13:55

Jesse L. Martin releases beautiful gospel cover of the Firefly theme song

by Caroline Siede

How do you thank writer/director Joss Whedon for donating to your Kickstarter campaign? With a gospel cover of the theme song to his cult TV show, apparently. At least that’s what former Law & Order star and current Flash star Jesse L. Martin (who, more importantly, is also a Broadway musical veteran) did after Whedon donated “an outstanding amount” to the Kickstarter for his new musical short film, The Letter Carrier.

The Letter Carrier tells the story of a black family hiding from slavery in secluded mountains in 1860, and Martin is working on the project with his Flash co-stars Rick Cosnett and Carlos Valdes. The trio came together to lend some gorgeous harmonies to “The Ballad Of Serenity,” which Whedon wrote for Firefly. The director tweeted a link to the cover, exclaiming “OMG.”

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23 Mar 19:00

Must Be Canadian


I choose to believe that this shooter is apologizing to whoever has to clean up his brass, since he did not write on the actual projectile. Which is nice; people who don't clean up their spent shells are usually such jerks.


Submitted by: Unknown

Tagged: Canada , kindness , sorry , funny
23 Mar 21:35

The History Of The Minigun, Our Deadly Spinning Friend

by Mike Fahey

The Gatling gun was invented in 1861 by Dr. Richard J. Gatling as a means to ultimately demonstrate the futility of war. Now it and its descendants are some of gaming's sweetest treats. How'd that happen? Ahoy has prepared a video.

In games centered around putting bullets into people, there is no greater means of doing so that a nice minigun. Not only are they an excellent crowd deterrent, they also give developers in charge of gun creation something cool to animate.

Of course they have their down sides. They are extremely heavy and realistically need to be fired from a mounted position. When a game does let you lug one (or two) around, lug is the operative term—no one is sprinting holding a giant rotary cannon, and if they are...bigger cannon? Then there's the whir of barrels spinning up. To me it's a beautiful sound, but to some it's a source of frustration, letting enemies know they should probably be going for cover right about now.

Bah, the negatives far outweigh the positives. The only thing better than a minigun?

The History Of The Minigun, Our Deadly Spinning Friend

More miniguns.

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24 Mar 22:00

TIE Fighter: A Fanmade Star Wars Anime Short

by Brad

In this fan-made Star Wars animation by Paul “OtaKing” Johnson, the iconic starfighter unit of the Galactic Empire gets an impressive makeover in the style of a classic ’80s anime.

23 Mar 05:13

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

by Connor Worley

Spoiler alert.

About two months ago, I wrote an article about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. In that article, I intimated that there was a specific quest in the game that warranted a second article in itself. Suffice it to say, I received a large quantity of positive reception for the original piece, and multiple requests to actually write the proposed second article. So, two months later, after purchasing a New Nintendo 3DS and recently completing Majora's Mask 3D, I present my thoughts on what I consider to be Majora's Mask's greatest achievement - and what, in my opinion, is the best side quest in the entirety of the Zelda franchise.

Ask anyone how many dungeons there are in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and they'll probably answer "four".

This is, of course, true. Most people look at Majora's Mask and see one of the most minimalist Zelda games ever created. Majora's Mask features an astoundingly low amount of dungeons, totaling at four. For perspective, that's four less dungeons than the game's predecessor, the critically acclaimed Ocarina of Time, possessed. This number increases by one, of course, depending on whether you choose to count the Moon as a "dungeon", but odds are that "four" will be the most common answer you receive.

However, if one truly chooses to stretch the definition of what a Zelda dungeon actually is, that number could be rounded up to five or six, depending on whether one chooses to acknowledge the game's central hub, Clock Town, as a dungeon unto itself.

Just like every typical Zelda dungeon ever made, Clock Town features a variety of puzzles to solve, all of which reap different rewards such as heart pieces or empty bottles. Unlike typical dungeons, however, these puzzles center not around pushing a block into a conveniently shaped groove or flipping a temple upside-down, but rather upon aiding Clock Town's residents in achieving a measure of emotional catharsis. There are damaged souls of all sorts located within the five geographical divisions of the hub city, be they dancers struggling to hone their craft or a despondent leader of a troupe of carnival entertainers, struggling with the cancellation of their performance. Assisting each of these citizens in coming to terms with their sorrow is one of the only ways for Link to obtain several optional and key items that will aid him along his journey to save Termina from annihilation. Most of the game's 24 collectible masks can be obtained in Clock Town as well, each of which plays an important role in Link's ultimate quest to slay Majora - especially once all 24 are obtained.

So, if one is operating under the assumption that Clock Town is, in its own way, a dungeon, then by Zelda logic, every dungeon must have a boss.

In Clock Town's case, that "boss" is the saga of Anju and Kafei.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

The story of Anju and Kafei (known as "Anju's Anguish" in the 3DS version of the game) is one of the last tasks that can be completed prior to the final battle against the Skull Kid. It tests almost every skill the player has learned up to this point in the game, as well as their knowledge of Clock Town's persistent in-game schedule and their overall ability to manipulate time to their advantage. It's painfully difficult if you don't know exactly what you're doing, and if you're not using a walkthrough, odds are that it'll take you multiple resets of the three-day cycle to complete. It is also one of the most emotional, almost heart-wrenching tales ever told in a Zelda game. It's Majora's Mask's greatest achievement, and the beauty of it is that it's completely optional.

It's also the greatest side quest in the history of the Zelda franchise.

The earliest at which one can play "Anju's Anguish" to completion is prior to taking on the game's fourth temple, for the journey to said temple unlocks the area in which the quest's climax takes place. As a result of the developers' strategic placement of the quest within the larger scheme of the game, by the point in time at which the player can choose to tackle "Anju's Anguish", they've likely lived through at least ten or twenty three-day cycles throughout the game, and are aware of the predetermined schedules that each citizen of Clock Town follows throughout each cycle.

Which makes it ironic that, in order to begin "Anju's Anguish", the player must first travel to the one location that the game has given them no other reason to visit - the Mayor's Residence in East Clock Town. There, the player meets Madame Aroma, the Mayor's wife, whose son, Kafei, has recently gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Given that Link is clearly the most qualified ten-year-old Hylian to be investigating missing persons cases in Clock Town, she bestows upon him a mask carved in the shape of Kafei's face - wearing this and talking to most Clock Town NPCs will cause them to provide some measure of commentary on Kafei's disappearance. Kafei's Mask is the first of many masks obtained over the course of "Anju's Anguish", which is one of the few side quests that spans the entirety of a three-day cycle.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

"Anju's Anguish" is also notable because, if one pays close enough attention, depth is added to the tales of other Clock Town citizens Link has aided over the course of his adventure. For example, shortly after obtaining Kafei's Mask, the aforementioned troupe leader storms into Madame Aroma's office. If the player chooses to stay and witness their conversation, they can observe the precise moment that the troupe leader is met with the discovery that his group's performance at the Carnival of Time has been cancelled. Little moments like this bring the world of Clock Town to life, as characters who Link has met (or will meet in future cycles) are granted additional backstory and characterization.

The next stop on Link's quest to locate Kafei is another location with little significance until the events of "Anju's Anguish" - the Stock Pot Inn, also located in East Clock Town. The inn's receptionist, Anju, is Kafei's fiancee, and when confronting her while wearing Kafei's Mask, expresses dismay at having no clue as to her future husband's whereabouts. They were meant to be married on the first day of the Carnival of Time - the first day following the completion of the three-day cycle, upon which the Moon will slam into Termina and obliterate Clock Town and the surrounding regions.

If the player is shrewd, they can obtain a reservation at the inn, but this is simply optional, as are multiple occurrences in this quest. Retrieving a reservation simply makes accessing the inn easier going forward, but it ends up displacing a previously reserved guest - a Goron that goes by the same name as your Link. Not even halfway through the quest, and the player's actions are already having consequences. The benefits of displacing this Goron, however, are apparent: 24/7 access to the Stock Pot Inn, even after closing, and a chest containing a Silver Rupee. Choices like these add texture to the already nuanced side quest that is "Anju's Anguish."

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

At around 2:00 on the first day, the Postman will deliver an unmarked letter to Anju. After he departs, speaking with her using Kafei's Mask prompts her to request that you meet at 11:30 in the Inn's kitchens (which you can access without much trouble provided that you stole the Goron's reservation). There, Anju gives you her own letter to place in the nearest postbox, in the hopes that it will reach Kafei. This next section of the game requires that the player have that most crucial skill of all - common sense.

The Second Day begins, and this is where the game's notorious lack of direction can come back to haunt the player, as everything that occurs from here on out happens in somewhat rapid succession. Whereas for some, the natural inclination might be to sit and wait to see if Anju ever receives a reply from Kafei, the right move is actually to await the Postman's retrieval of the message, and then follow him in the hopes that the postman might lead you straight to Kafei - and it's once this goal has been achieved that several narrative pieces that have been laid out not just across "Anju's Anguish", but also the entirety of the game, begin to click into place.

Every three-day cycle begins in the same place - South Clock Town, directly outside the Clock Tower. Nearby, at around 7:00 on the First Day during every cycle, a boy dressed in blue garb wearing a fox mask checks the postbox near the entrance to the Laundry Pool, then returns to the Pool, and enters a door that immediately locks behind him. No matter how many times you reset, odds are that this is a visual you'll witness almost every time you start a new three-day cycle in Majora's Mask. There is no way to interact with the child, no way to infiltrate his home - he is simply an NPC on a set path.

Which makes it somewhat jarring when the Postman ends up traveling to the Laundry Pool, ringing a nearby bell, and delivering Anju's letter to this very child on the Second Day.

Here, the game once again relies on your intuition. The player is expected to know at this point that the child automatically locks the door behind him. So, the only way to further progress in Anju's Anguish is to enter the child's home while he's speaking to the Postman, then wait within the house for him to return.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

Once the child returns, you're given the full story. The child is actually Kafei, who, at some point prior to your arrival in Termina, ran afoul of the Skull Kid and ended up on the receiving end of a spell that reverted him to a youthful state. Embarrassed, he fled to seek a cure from the nearby Great Fairy, and had his Sun's Mask - one of two masks used in Terminian wedding ceremonies - stolen from him by a thief. Kafei then went into hiding until he could find a way to retrieve the Sun's Mask and return to his normal, adult form.

Kafei entrusts you with the Pendant of Memories, requesting that you deliver it to Anju as a sign of his enduring affection for her. Meanwhile, he awaits the thief's return - it turns out that Kafei's hideout is the back room of Clock Town's Curiosity Shop, which sells stolen goods for exorbitant prices. From here, he can spy on the shop's patrons, hoping to one day discover the thief that stole his Sun's Mask.

You return the Pendant of Memories to Anju, which motivates her to remain in town on the third day rather than leave with the rest of her family for Romani Ranch. At this point, her role in the quest is over. All that's left now is to help Kafei, which, again, if you're not using a walkthrough, becomes exorbitantly more complicated than one would expect.

On the Third Day, the player can enter the Curiosity Shop's back room of their own free will to find that Kafei has left, and the Curiosity Shop's owner remains in his place. The owner explains that the thief that stole Kafei's mask actually came to the store on the Second Night to sell the owner a stolen Big Bomb Bag. Following the thief's departure, Kafei left the store in hot pursuit, leaving behind his mask (revealed to be a Keaton Mask, the second mask obtained during this quest) and a letter for his mother, Madame Aroma. Both of these items are entrusted to you. The owner then informs you that the thief's name is Sakon, and he resides somewhere in Ikana Village.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

This is where yet another seemingly peripheral character suddenly takes on a radically more important role in the context of Majora's Mask's story. Sakon can actually be encountered much earlier in the game, and, in another side quest, can be prevented from stealing the Big Bomb Bag from the old lady who runs Clock Town's bomb shop. In this alternate cycle, the Big Bomb Bag goes on sale at the bomb shop for a much more reasonable fee, and Sakon is sent running back to Ikana Canyon. Sakon is also encountered the very first time you enter Ikana Village, and makes an effort to steal your sword before being rebuked by Tatl, your fairy companion.

So, at this point, the reveal of Sakon as the main villain of Anju's Anguish isn't so much surprising as it is illuminating. If that bomb bag never gets stolen, Sakon never comes to the Curiosity Shop, and Kafei never runs off in pursuit of his foe. Thus, in an alternate timeline where you stop Sakon from stealing the bomb bag, "Anju's Anguish" cannot be completed. This is just another example of one of the multitudes of conditions that need to line up perfectly for "Anju's Anguish" to reach completion. It also exemplifies the amount of thought and care the developers put into Majora's Mask, creating a world where the slightest action taken can have a ripple effect that renders multiple other side quests defunct.

Obviously, the letter needs to be delivered, but the first thing to do is actually to pursue Kafei to Ikana Village, where you find him crouched behind a rock outside of a misshapen wall. (Again, the only hint the game gives you that this is the proper action to take is in the Curiosity Shop owner's initial dialogue.) This wall is actually the door to Sakon's hideout, and can only be opened by Sakon himself. Therefore, the player ends up waiting until the Night of the Third Day for Sakon to arrive and open his Hideout, upon which the player and Kafei sneak in after him.

Kafei, immediately upon entering, spots the Sun's Mask, rushes in blind, and ends up tripping a switch that initiates a conveyor belt pulling the mask further and further from his grasp. There's a second switch that opens a door to the next room, but it needs to be held down. Link steps on the switch, the door opens, and it's at that point that, at the climax of "Anju's Anguish", a Zelda game does something that, at the time Majora's Mask was released, was absolutely unprecedented.

The player is given control of Kafei.

The race to stop the Sun's Mask from reaching the end of the Conveyor Belt functions rather simply. The player first controls Kafei, pushing blocks onto switches to open Link's door in the previous room. The player can also press blocks onto yellow switches to slow the conveyor belt down, but must avoid touching red switches, which increase the belt's speech. Once Link's door is open, the player then resumes control of Link, who fights an enemy in his corresponding room. Once the enemy is killed, the player resumes control of Kafei, and enters another room with another block puzzle. From there, it's a race against time for both Kafei and Link to reach the end of the conveyor belt, where they can press the final two switches to halt the conveyor and retrieve the Sun's Mask.

Once that's done, Kafei flees for Clock Town to be with Anju before the moon eradicates Termina. No resolution is provided in terms of bringing Sakon to justice, but that isn't the point of this story. Before "Anju's Anguish" can conclude, however, there's one last piece of business to take care of: The letter to Madame Aroma.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

The letter is the turning point in this quest's narrative, for, in order to retrieve every item that can be obtained during "Anju's Anguish", the letter must be delivered to two different people in two different three-day cycles. The first person, obviously, is Madame Aroma herself, who's spending her last hours on earth drowning her sorrows at the local Milk Bar. Upon being presented with Kafei's letter, she's overcome with relief that her son is alive and safe, and rewards you with a bottle of Chateau Romani (a milk variant that imbues you with unlimited magic).

The second person, which requires the player to complete the quest again in an entirely different cycle, is the Postman. Once the letter is retrieved from the Curiosity Shop Owner, instead of rushing to help Kafei, the player can deliver the letter to the Postman, who is currently in crisis, for the Postmaster has not given him a schedule for the night of the Third Day. Given this unfortunate chain of events, the Postman is forced to remain in his office, awaiting further orders. However, once the player arrives with the letter to Madame Aroma, the Postman quickly dons his garb and proceeds to the Milk Bar to deliver it to her ASAP.

In an ironic turn of events, Madame Aroma turns out to be the Postmistress, and is horrified when she learns that the Postman has not fled from the moon. She immediately relieves the Postman of his duties and orders him to flee. The public servant is then overcome with relief, and thanks you by bestowing upon you his Postman's Hat, yet another mask that can only be obtained through this quest. (In what might be the one case where this game's lack of explicit directions harms "Anju's Anguish", the player is given no indication that the letter can even be given to the Postman in the first place, meaning that, without a walkthrough, the only way one could stumble upon this second scenario is via pure luck.)

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

From there, only one task remains in "Anju's Anguish" - the story's emotional denouement. The player finds Anju awaiting Kafei's arrival in her room on the top floor of the Stock Pot Inn. Despite the several hours that have passed since you and Kafei have parted ways, he has still not arrived, and the clock is ticking ever close to annihilation. In that instant, it seems as though the moon might fall before the two lovers are reunited.

And then, with one hour and thirty minutes to spare, Kafei arrives at the Stock Pot Inn.

"Anju... I'm sorry I was late." Kafei says.

But in that moment, Anju couldn't care less.

"... Welcome home."

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

The betrothed embrace, and then set out to achieve one last piece of business. In Terminian culture, the exchanging of masks during a wedding is the equivalent of exchanging vows. So Anju and Kafei take their masks, the Moon and the Sun masks respectively, and fuse them into one - the Couple's Mask, which they then pass on to you. In that moment, they have no need for trivial possessions or trinkets. All they need in that moment in each other. And so it is that, with nigh upon an hour left until the moon obliterates Termina, they make one final request of Link.

"Please take refuge. We are fine here. We shall greet the morning... together."

And so, after a tumultuous three-day cycle in which the player has moved heaven, earth, and time itself to bring these two lovers back together, they are left with nothing left to do except initiate the most poignant reset of all. Just before the moon falls, the player initiates the Song of Time...

And suddenly, all is as it was before. It's the first day once again, and the boy clothed in a Keaton Mask and blue garb once again races to the postbox just outside the laundry pool, unaware that in another life, he had just been reunited with his true love at last. In that moment, it is never more evident that the only way to end this cycle of emotional misery and death once and for all is to defeat the Skull Kid and restore Termina to a peaceful state. Clock Town has been conquered. All that is left is the moon.

It's this emotional poignancy, along with the sheer knowledge of Clock Town's scheduling required to complete "Anju's Anguish", as well as the incessant amount of trial and error (and reset cycles) necessary to reach this conclusion, that makes "Anju's Anguish" one of the most profound side quests in all of gaming. It's certainly one of the most rewarding. By the end, the player walks away with four masks and an empty bottle to aid them on their quest. Few Zeldas have been able to top the emotional zenith of this quest's story arc, which has cemented itself as one of the defining moments in the history of the franchise.

It's a testament to the impact of this completely optional, rigorous side quest, that the sole image of a woman in her wedding gown, awaiting her husband on the greatest day of their life, is the most powerful image of any that plays during Majora's Mask's credits.

In that moment, love truly has conquered all.

Anju's Anguish - The Brilliance of Zelda's Greatest Side Quest

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23 Mar 14:38

Backchannel: computers can talk to each other with heat

by Cory Doctorow

A paper by Ben Gurion University researchers to be presented at a Tel Aviv security conference demonstrates "Bitwhisper," a covert communications channel that allows computers to exchange data by varying their temperature, which can be detected by target machines within 40cm.

The backchannel is a threat to airgapped systems that are used to handle sensitive information, and which are often used alongside of networked machines, so that users can switch easily to an Internet-connected system. Both systems have to be compromised for this to work, of course, so the threat model is something like having an airgapped machine that is backdoored in transit (as with the NSA's practice of diverting computer shipments and fitting them with malware). The researchers anticipate using embedded computers -- such as those in printers -- as a vector, since these have notoriously poor security.

The malware on each system can be designed to search for nearby PCs by instructing an infected system to periodically emit a thermal ping—to determine, for example, when a government employee has placed his infected laptop next to a classified desktop system. The two systems would then engage in a handshake, involving a sequence of “thermal pings” of +1C degrees each, to establish a connection. But in situations where the internet-connected computer and the air-gapped one are in close proximity for an ongoing period, the malware could simply be designed to initiate a data transmission automatically at a specified time—perhaps at midnight when no one’s working to avoid detection—without needing to conduct a handshake each time.

The time it take to transmit data from one computer to another depends on several factors, including the distance between the two computers and their position and layout. The researchers experimented with a number of scenarios—with computer towers side-by-side, back-to-back and stacked on top of each other. The time it took them to increase the heat and transmit a “1” varied between three and 20 minutes depending. The time to restore the system to normal temperature and transmit a “0” usually took longer.

Stealing Data From Computers Using Heat [Kim Zetter/Wired]

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22 Mar 15:24

Dubbing Studio Modifies an Anime

by Don

When the ADV dubbing studio was given the rights to dub the anime Ghost Stories, they were told they could alter the script however they liked. This was the result.

21 Mar 17:48


by Ari Spool

A provocative hashtag stirs up a Twitter war.