Neologism: Binder Hell

Binder Hell - noun - The state of being stuck dealing with varying numbers of people on the phone who are only functionally capable of putting you through processes documented in their three ring binders, even though none of those processes will actually fix the problem you have.  Symptomatic of an over-engineered system which has all but programmed out common sense and initiative.  For example, a company which is so hell-bent on keeping customers will needlessly obfuscate or entirely eliminate processes that let customers cancel their service.  As another example, a telecom provider which demands the serial number of your SIM card …

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Symmetric bionic augmentation.

Something that's always bugged me about science fiction is the lack of common sense of characters' bionic enhancements.

No, I'm not going to call them cybernetics.  RPGs and movies have it wrong.  Those aren't cybernetics, they're bionics.  The former is a feature of the latter.

Characters pretty much always seem to have their augmentations installed bass-ackwards.  Most of the time their positioning doesn't make sense at all.  Let's look at some handedness statistics: Depending on where you are, between 2% and 12% of people are left-handed.  Depending on your upbringing (if you were born left handed in some places, whether …

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Consumer media is losing its gods-damned mind.

Every morning I pop open Google News in one of my browser tabs and mainline the top 100 stories to get a sense for what’s happening in the world and what general sort of day I’m in for. Last week the Associated Press announced that it would be modifying the content it makes available on the Net in such a way that they can (hypothetically) control how it can be read, where it can be read, and who can read it. They say they want to be able to monitor how the content they make available to everyone …

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Secure deletion and sanitization of storage media.

EDITED: Added Creative Commons license block. Other content remains the same.

Long ago, in the days of DOS and OS/2, deleting a file meant that it was gone for good. How file systems worked was a mystery to just about everybody, and so we were told to back up our data often lest a mistake or drive crash wipe out something important, leaving us up a certain body of water sans propulsion. Years passed, as they are wont to do, and someone discovered that data didn't really evaporate when it was deleted, it was just renamed in such a …

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Preparing for the End of Time so soon?

While browsing the newsfeeds a couple of nights ago, I came across an interesting article from ABC News about people dropping out of workaday life and preparing for the end of the world. From the United States to France to the Russian Confederation, stockpiles of crop seeds are being built, water purefiers are vanishing from the shelves, and basic knowledge about farming, medicine, and engineering is being crammed into many a brain. Normally, this isn't a very interesting phenomenon because people have been doing this for literally centuries - the end of the world as we know it is a hot …

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Do engineers make good terrorists?

According to two sociologists at Oxford University, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, the mindset of a professional terrorist and the mindset of a professional engineer are so similar in makeup that there is a strong correlation between being an engineer and being a member of a terrorist group (paper downloadable from here). Their research states that members of the Islamist movement of Muslim culture show a disproportionately high number of doctors, engineers, and practitioners of other scientific fields. Their paper also makes the claim that engineers in particular tend to gravitate toward violent groups, but it isn't so much being …

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