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Ron Obvious

Profile Information

Name: Ron
Gender: Male
Home country: Middle Earth
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:37 PM
Number of posts: 6,065

About Me

I got the nickname Ron Obvious because -- in addition to being a huge Python fan -- my name really is Ron and I used to start sentences with \"Obviously\" a lot. Obviously, that\'s no longer a problem.

Journal Archives

"Not in this weather" - Mercedes Benz TV commercial banned in the US

Clever, but one can see why it would stir outrage in certain quarters in the US:

Multilevel Marketing Scams Expose Capitalism's Foundational Lie

I heard about this company (Lula Roe) a few weeks ago on WBUR's On Point podcast on Multi-Level-Marketing scams. I've never been involved with any of them, but a friend got suckered in the Amway cult some years back and everything I read here and heard about on the On Point podcast really rang true to me. Read On:

Pyramid schemes aren’t a corruption of capitalism — they’re a microcosm of how the class system arbitrarily creates winners and losers while falsely promising opportunity for all.

Back in high school, a friend of mine somehow got looped into attending a seminar concerned with spreading the good word about an exciting — though notably nonspecific — job opportunity. In retrospect, everything about the initial experience was less a series of red flags than it was a proverbial flotilla of giant crimson banners emblazoned with the words “obvious scam.” Adding to the aforementioned lack of specificity (just what the hell was this “opportunity”?), the event itself was to be held in a bleak-looking conference room at an airport motel — the kind of vaguely sinister and transitory location one associates with ugly carpets, mandatory office retreats, marital infidelity, and small-time hucksterism.

In retrospect, I don’t think the actual nature of the gig (such as even existed) was ever really made clear. From what I gathered at the time, attendees were shown a series of peppy, Tim and Eric–esque videos featuring would-be salt-of-the-earth types who had supposedly transformed their lives overnight using the One Weird Trick bequeathed to them by whatever shady LLC was hosting the affair. (My friend, to their credit, left after ten or fifteen minutes.) Were I a betting man, though, I’d put all my chips down on saying this was a multilevel marketing (MLM) scheme of one kind or another — perhaps a notch or two away from being downright illegal, but doubtless powered by a mix of sleaze, credulity, and human desperation.


Just got a call from "State Farm"

From someone called Haley or Ashley "about the claim on your car".

They left a message a week ago and i then called our local agent who confirmed there is no such claim. It did indeed say "State Farm" on the caller id, but there were a number of red flags, not least of which was the fact that she called me on a Sunday. Also the oddly non-specific language.

Anyone else get such a call lately? I'm not saying it's absolutely a scam, but I'd not give out any information just in case and call back instead.

ETA: Should've mentioned that we do indeed have car insurance with State Farm. I imagine that's something they can look up in a public database.

Amazon's Alexa Collects More of Your Data Than Any Other Smart Assistant

Our smart devices are listening. Whether it's personally identifiable information, location data, voice recordings, or shopping habits, our smart assistants know far more than we realize.

A survey on smart assistant usage conducted by Reviews.org showed that 56% of respondents are concerned over data collection. After analyzing the terms and conditions of Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, and Cortana, though, it was clear that some degree of data collection is ultimately inescapable.

All five services collect your name, phone number, device location, and IP address; the names and numbers of your contacts; your interaction history; and the apps you use. If you don't like that information being stored, you probably shouldn't use a voice assistant.


I never did like these things and don't want one in the house. I'm always amazed how utterly minor the benefits of these things are. "Alexa, dim the lights". Is it really that hard to get up and hit a switch, look things up on the computer yourself, turn the heat up, etc?

They're connected to the internet and they're listening 24/7. What could go wrong by having one of these bugs listening in to your life, you wonder?

This math teacher puts calculus lessons on Pornhub

Posted without comment other than to say that I was always aroused by mathematics myself.

It's safe to assume that few Pornhub visitors are looking for hour-long calculus videos (by a fully-clothed instructor), but Taiwanese math teacher Changhsu puts them there anyway. His channel is filled with over 200 decidedly unsexy chalkboard lessons about topics like differential equations (link NSFW). The 34-year-old math tutor found the YouTube market for math explainers to be saturated, so he decided to expand his reach into Pornhub (link NSFW). He told Mel Magazine that he wants to reach a new market of mathematics learners.

"Since very few people teach math on adult video platforms, and since there are so many people who watch videos on them, I thought that if I uploaded my videos there, a lot of people would see them."

This logic seems perfectly reasonable to me. You know what they say: location, location, location!


Windows 10 tried to warn me about installing Youtube Downloader-HD

This is a new one. I've installed previous versions with no issues, but I got a warning this time.

WTF, Microsoft? Who do you work for exactly? Do you have to make it so obvious that it isn't me?

I first noticed this disturbing trend when one of the anti-virus/malware scanners flagged Bittorrent as "unwanted software". Unwanted by whom? I, the person who owns the computer, didn't consider it unwanted.

"Ordered this badge for my girlfriend..."

It took me a few seconds to spot the problem

[Science Daily] How fructose in the diet contributes to obesity

I've always suspected high fructure corn syrup is a major contributor to our obesity epidemic: That stuff's in everything. When you look back at pictures from, say 1950-1980 doesn't it strike you how thin everybody was back then? At least compared to today? As I recall we didn't have to do a whole lot of hard work to stay thin either; we just were. Read on...

Eating fructose appears to alter cells in the digestive tract in a way that enables it to take in more nutrients, according to a preclinical study from investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. These changes could help to explain the well-known link between rising fructose consumption around the world and increased rates of obesity and certain cancers.

The research, published August 18 in Nature, focused on the effect of a high-fructose diet on villi, the thin, hairlike structures that line the inside of the small intestine. Villi expand the surface area of the gut and help the body to absorb nutrients, including dietary fats, from food as it passes through the digestive tract. The study found that mice that were fed diets that included fructose had villi that were 25 percent to 40 percent longer than those of mice that were not fed fructose. Additionally, the increase in villus length was associated with increased nutrient absorption, weight gain and fat accumulation in the animals.

"Fructose is structurally different from other sugars like glucose, and it gets metabolized differently," said senior author Dr. Marcus DaSilva Goncalves, the Ralph L. Nachman Research Scholar, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and an endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "Our research has found that fructose's primary metabolite promotes the elongation of villi and supports intestinal tumor growth."


'The greatest striker': Gerd Mller, legendary German forward, dies aged 75

He lived just long enough to see Lewandowski break his 49 year old record of goals scored in a single season last year.

Legendary German striker Gerd Müller has died aged 75. The forward scored 68 goals in 62 appearances for West Germany, including the winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final against Holland.

During 15 years at Bayern, Muller netted a record 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and 66 goals in 74 European matches.


Unpatched iPhone Bug Allows Remote Device Takeover

Amazing. It sounds like an old-fashioned sprintf() style bug with unchecked parameters, if that's not too dated a reference these days.

Summary: A Wifi router with the SSID "%p%s%s%s%s%n" can take over your phone if you connect to it (automatically or otherwise)

A format-string bug believed to be a low-risk denial-of-service issue turns out to be much nastier than expected.

A vulnerability in Apple iOS opens the door to remote code execution (RCE), researchers found. The assessment is a revision from a previous understanding of the flaw that viewed it as a low-risk (and somewhat wacky) denial-of-service (DoS) problem affecting iPhone’s Wi-Fi feature.

The original DoS issue is a string-format bug discovered by researcher Carl Schou, who found that connecting to an access point with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n” would disable a device’s Wi-Fi.”

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