Forbes.com E-Mail List Hacked!

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The Forbes.com e-mail list has been compromised.  How do I know?  I create a unique e-mail address for everything online that I subscribe to.

When I get spam, I check the address the spammers sent it TO, to determine who’s responsible for either giving my address away or who’s responsible for not protecting our private data.

In this case, it is definitely forbes.com.  As you can see in the pasted spam e-mail, the address they sent it to is one of my addresses, but the only one where I have “forbes.com” in the e-mail address.

And, this is obviously not an authorized Forbes.com e-mail  message because it looks highly unprofessional, is an obvious scam, and all the links point to .ru websites.  Those are in Russia.  Also, I never entered a prize contest on Forbes.

Forbes needs to get on the ball and protect your registration information and issue a warning to all of their subscribers.

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GIT For Beginners

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Target Audience

Programmers that need a good source code repository and versioning system.

Expected Knowledge Level:

Beginner through Advanced. You do not necessarily have to have experience with other version control systems, but it helps, of course. Your knowledge of programming is of minimal importance to this article. But if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a programmer, and that’s all that really matters.

Purpose of this article:

To give you a head start with Git. This is not a complete tutorial. This will give you critical pieces of information that are usually lacking in other documentation that experienced GIT users forget that non Git users don’t already know.

What IS Git?

Git is a source code repository and versioning system. It’s free and open source. It lets you keep track of your source code projects, have them backed up on zero or more remote storage locations, share your source code (if you want), keep track of versions of your source code, branch from your source code to work on special features without interfering with the main branch, merge branches together, provide opportunities to review source before merging it back into an important branch (for teams), allows teams of programmers to easily work on the same project without undue burdens of coordination and synchronization.

What Problems is GIT a Solution For? (Why GIT?)

First, let’s answer what version control systems, in general, solve, not just GIT:

So, why GIT in particular? I’m not an advocate for GIT in particular. I like it and I use it. What’s important is that you’re using a modern source code control system and have policies in place to prevent problems and provide standardized solutions. GIT is one of many solutions. However, GIT has risen in popularity and seems to be the defacto go-to source control software these days. And there’s good reason for that. It was created by Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux) and is actively maintained. GitHub.com, arguably the most popular source code repo on the planet is based on GIT. And like most source control systems, GIT is multi-platform.

Again, I’m not advocating for GIT. I’m writing a quick-start guide with a little bit of background. I’ve written plenty of articles on subversion too. Note also that Mercurial is a Git derivitive, so pretty much everything I cover here applies to Mercurial as well.

Things You Need to Know:

GIT is not easy to get started with if you’re not familiar with it, and by definition, if you’re getting started with it, you’re NOT familiar with it. For one: GIT is not a single product. Since it’s open source, there are MANY products that are GIT compatible and you have options for command line, GUI, embedded into your favorites IDE or source editors, plus multiple server options as well.

1. Terminology

2. Storage

Unlike Subversion and the much older Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, you don’t have 1 server and multiple clients. Instead, GIT has no “real” central server. Though most people use it in a way that sets up one repo as the understood central repo.

You don’t simply check out from the server, edit, then check back in. Instead, your local machine, itself, becomes a server. You become a client to your own server. So, when you check out and commit your code, you’re doing it from and to your local repository. At any time, you can push all your commits from your local repo up to another repo. You can “pull” from a remote repo to yours to get yours up to date.

But while writing code, you’ll create branches locally in your own repo, then checkout from those local branches, edit, commit. You may do this many times. Eventually, you’ll want to push your changes up to the shared repo.

3. Branching

If you’ve ever tried branching in things like subversion, you’re probably aware of how difficult it is and how easy it is to screw things up badly.

SUBVERSION BRANCH: HOW TO

In GIT, it becomes ridiculously easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that branching will become your common, every day practice. Everything you do… every feature you add, every bug you fix, will be done in a branch.

In all fairness though, it’s still hard if you’re not using the right tools. If you’re a command-line junky (which I do not recommend, nor should anyone be impressed by someone insisting on sticking with the command-line), you can implement best-practices like GitFlow. Better yet, are plugins for GitFlow that are made for Visual Studio, GitKraken, and many other Git clients. This removes the complexity of branching and merging down to a couple of clicks and removes the human error component, making your workflow incredibly powerful and easy at the same time.

4. GitFlow

Make your life much less complicated. Start using the GitFlow best practice. Just because GIT supports branching, doesn’t mean that everyone’s going to do it the same, nor that everyone’s doing it “good”. What’s your policy on how code moves from developers to production? There are just about an infinite amount of hodge-podge plans using GIT to make that happen. GitFlow is a standardized way of doing it. In short (very short) explanation, here it is:

 

Making this happen is a chore if you don’t have tools that are designed for this and you are likely to introduce big mistakes without using GitFlow tools. If you’re using Microsoft Visual Studio, go to the Extensions and search for GitFlow. Install that, then you can very very easily automatically create, pull, and work on a feature or bug or hot fix branch. Then when you’re done, you simply click “finish” and it’ll do all the committing, pushing, and merging for you (except for the merging where human intervention is required). Your F-Up rate will greatly decline and your co-workers will appreciate it!

If you’re using GitKraken, there’s a plugin for GitFlow there too. You can use both Visual Studio’s GitFlow and GitKraken’s GitFlow interchangeably, at the same time, on the same project.

No joke! Go get GitFlow now!

Resources/Tools:

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How We Know Satellites Exist

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I know!  I know!  “How We Know Satellites Exist” sounds like a pointless title, but believe it or not, there’s a growing number of vocal flat earthers on the internet.  One of their arguments is that outer space and satellites don’t exist.  They believe we live on a flat plane under a dome.  No!  Seriously!  They actually believe that!  When you ask them how can that be if we have satellite TV and satellite dishes on our homes, that work and ONLY work when pointed at a specific place in a clear sky, they give easily disproven responses.  I’ll list those here with the obvious explanations of why those are false, and I’ll show some images of satellite dishes in my own neighborhood, where they’re pointed, and some online tools so you can see where to point your own dishes.

But first, let’s easily debunk their responses to the question of why satellite dishes work if there are no satellites:

Towers

Obviously, it can’t be towers for the following reasons:

  1. Dishes are pointed pretty high and you’d definitely see a transmission tower.  It would have to be very near by, very large, and impossible to not see.
  2. Towers would be extremely local objects.  Dishes north of them would point south.  Dishes south of them would point north.  There are NO dishes in the northern hemisphere that point NORTH to geosynchronous satellites.

Mountains with towers

Exact same response as the towers answer.

Weather balloons

Weather balloons cannot stay in one place.  They move with the wind.  There’s no way a stationary dish could stay pointed to any.  There’s also the obvious pointing problem as with the towers.  If you’re south of one, you’d have to point your dish north and NO dishes in the northern hemisphere are pointed north that are pointing to geosynchronous satellites.

Planes

Please cannot stay still.  Also, you have the same pointing issue as all of the above.  ALL DISHES in the northern hemisphere that point to geosynchronous satellites point south.  ALL OF THEM!

Helicopters

While helicopters CAN stay in one place, they can’t stay there very long.  They are also inside the earth’s atmosphere, making them very low in comparison to satellites.  You’d also have the same pointing problem as all of the items above… and dish south of one of the helicopters would have to point north AND NONE in the northern hemisphere do that point to geosynchronous satellites.  And could you imagine the logistics and outrageously expensive costs to keep hundreds of thousands of helicopters in the air 24/7 across multiple continents AND the oceans (ocean liners use satellite TV too!)

Here are some pictures of satellite dishes in my own neighborhood

I’ve drawn lines to roughly (very roughly) where they’re pointing.  I’m pretty much just eye-balling it.   Note that the houses on the left are north-east of the road.  The road runs from NW to SE.  The top picture is facing south-east.

Satellites Left

All these dishes point in a generally southerly direction.

Satellites Middle

Satellites Right

Below is a 3D rendering of my and my neighor’s house.  The satellite dishes from the photos above are pictured below with their general directions drawn, by me, from my rough eye-balling of where they appear to be pointing.

Satellite Pointers Arial

imageBelow is an online tool to help you determine how to point your own dish.  You enter your address, and it will show you a Google map and a pointer you can move to where your dish it.  You select the satellite you want to point you, and it will draw a line showing where to point your dish.  I chose the Dish Network satellite and it drew a line from the point where I showed it my own dish was.  As you can see, it calculates where to point my dish and that my dish is, in fact, pointing in that direction.  Remember, the image above is my rough guestimate from looking at the dishes from my driveway.  I used no instruments to test the EXACT directions.  Below is the exact direction it should be pointing, and certainly is.

http://www.dishpointer.com/ is the site where you can try it out yourself.

Satellite Tool

I do, indeed pick up a signal when pointed this way and I do indeed lose the signal when I move the dish just a little bit.

You can zoom out of this view with their tool and move the point anywhere on the map.  It will always point south if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

Feel free to independently verify this yourself.  Visit friends and family anywhere that have a satellite dish.  Go to business with dishes.  You’ll see they’re ALL pointing towards to south if you’re in the northern hemisphere.  While there, use the http://www.dishpointer.com/ tool to confirm the dish alignment.

The ONLY possible explanation for this is that satellites do, in fact, exist.

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Did the Astronauts Take Their Helmets Off On The Moon?

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Claim:

The moon landing was a hoax.  Here’s photographic proof showing the astronauts with their helmets off on the moon.

Astronauts without helmets

“So, these guys on the Moon took a moment to take their helmets off for this picture …”

FALSE!

This is a training excercise on earth, obviously.  Specifically, it’s…

Apollo 16 astronauts Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke, Commander John W. Young, and Command Module Pilot Thomas K. Mattingly II during a training excercise in February 1972

image

Here’s a link showing that very image:

Here’s How the Apollo Team Trained for Their Historic Space Missions

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Debunking Flat Earth Claim of “Same Stars in Winter & Summer”

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Claim:

If the earth revolves around the sun, why do we see the same stars at night all year long?  (Presented with the following image)

Screenshot_20170425-182250

FALSE!

imageObviously, anyone that knows anything about astronomy, or even casually looks up at the night sky through the seasons knows this is just batshit crazy.  Here’s a simple video of a star map showing the changing positions of the stars at the exact same time of night, over months.  Anyone can independently verify this by going out at night at the same time, every night, and making note of certain stars near the horizon.  Night after night, at the same time, they’re in a different position.

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How to Easily Stump Any Flat Earther

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If you’ve ever visited a NASA post on Google+, you’ll find that they draw the flat earthers out of their parents’ basements to post barely legible (on a good day) claims that everything NASA does is fake, that outer space doesn’t exist, that the world is flat, the sun is only a few thousand miles away, as well as the moon, satellites don’t exist, gravity doesn’t exist (no, really, they actually claim that), and a whole slew of grandiose, more expensive than God to pull off conspiracy theories.

If you’ve ever engaged with them, you’ll find some of them are incapable of intelligible thought or writing and are clearly psychologically damaged, but the ones that can write in mostly complete sentences will argue with you.  We’ll, they won’t really argue the point to support their claim.  They’ll just insult you, your intelligence, your upbringing, pretend like they’re amazed you actually believe the world is round, as if everyone else believes it’s flat, will have emotional tirades against you, tell you you’re indoctrinated, and blast you with pointless pictures and question, but they will almost never directly answer your questions.  They’ll try to overload you with ridiculous claims… so many, that it will be impossible for you to respond to them all.

I’ve found a way to shut some of them up.  I ask them one simple question:

___

To All Flat Earthers
Why, when I point my satellite dish to where a geostationary satellite is supposed to be, I get a signal, and when I point it away, I lose the signal?  Keep in mind, this is pointed to a clear, unobstructed sky, with no mountains or towers in the way.

Already debunked answers:

  1. Towers.  The dish isn’t pointed at any.  It it were, all nearby dishes would have to point to it instead of the sky.  Dishes south of it would point north.  But all dishes in the northern hemisphere point southward.
  2. Balloons.  Balloons can’t stay stationary.  They move with the wind.  Also, same positional problem with towers.  Dishes would be pointed all over the place.  They’re not.
  3. Planes.  Same with balloons.  They can’t stay stationary.  Also, the pointing problem.

Offer an explanation that explains why dishes work like that if satellites don’t exist.

___

Inundate them with this question.  Some will actually go away.  The others will instead make themselves look even more ridiculous.

But WHY engage with them?

image

Good question!  There’s little to no chance these flat earthers are even going to accept facts and reason.  But, they are actively recruiting new imbeciles to their cause.  By flushing out these kooks on public forums and exposing their idiocy, the few that might fall into their wacko way of thinking will be steered away, and that’s a win for everyone.  Plus, it’s highly entertaining to see how these people try to explain the logical contradictions of their flat world view.

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Does NASA fake Photos of Earth?

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Claim:

The earth is flat.  Everything NASA does is fake.  It’s a great big, decades long, world-wide conspiracy.  This photo proves it!  See all the copied and pasted clouds?

image

FALSE!

This image isn’t even presented by NASA as real.  It’s from the iPhone’s wallpaper art collection.  All it proves is that the guy that made it is very talented.

image

Here’s a full story on how the artist created the image and why clouds are replicated.

The guy who created the iPhone’s Earth image explains why he needed to fake it

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Why can I see buildings far beyond the horizon If the Earth is Round?

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Claim:

The earth is flat.  The fact that I can see buildings far beyond the horizon where they should be BELOW it is proof.

FALSE:

While it’s true that in some atmospheric conditions, light will bend near the ground and curve down and around the horizon to reveal buildings and landmarks much further than you’d be able to see had there been no unusual weather conditions or no atmosphere at all, it is NOT true that the world is flat, nor is this evidence for a flat earth.

imageA frequent example presented by flat earthers is a photo of the Chicago city skyline from Michigan, 60 miles away.  On most days, the entire Chicago skyline is below the horizon.  But when the air near the surface of the water is cooler than the air above, then light bends in a way to produce a “superior mirage”, allowing you to see images of objects below the horizon.  This is a temporary effect.

Mirage of the Chicago Skyline from Grand Mere State Park

It’s important to note that even in this image, frequently passed around by flat earthers, that only the top of the skyline is visible.  It appears as though the city is mostly under water.  That’s because, even though we’re seeing further than we normally can, the curvature of the earth is still present, even in this image, obstructing the lower parts of the city.  Additionally, notice the distortions of the stretched out appearance of the top of the Sears Tower.

Here’s a story about the photo on a Chicago ABC news affiliate website:

Mirage of Chicago skyline seen from Michigan shoreline

Click on the thumbnail below to see an animated GIF showing how even this photo proves the world is round.

image

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Is Antarctica a No-Fly Zone?

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Claim:

“No one is allowed to fly to, over, or near Antarctica and boats are not allowed near there per the Antarctic Treaty.”

image

FALSE!

MANY flights have flown over Antarctica and ships can go anytime they want.  Antarctica is the coldest place on earth with virtually zero human population on it.  There’s just no good reason to fly there unless you’re doing scientific research or extreme outdooring.  The waters are obviously dangerous due to all the ice and many ships have been lost.  Runways are ice covered year round and there’s virtually no infrastructure there to handle plane maintenance.  Straight lines for flights between the tips of South America, South Africa, and Australia barely cross the edge of Antarctica and there are reasons to avoid flying over it, due to the extreme weather.

image

But, that doesn’t mean no one goes and it doesn’t mean you can’t either.  Croydon travel is one of several companies that offer tours to and near Antarctica.

image

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The Antarctic Treaty

Here’s the preamble to the Antarctic Treaty.  In fact, in this PDF, linked from the official preamble, it provides guidelines on how to help protect the wildlife there should you choose to fly there.

In fact, this ad:

image

Is a travel guide for going there, should you choose to go.

The Antarctic Treaty

The 12 nations listed in the preamble (below) signed the Antarctic Treaty on 1 December 1959 at Washington, D.C. The Treaty entered into force on 23 June 1961; the 12 signatories became the original 12 consultative nations.

As of April 2010, 17 additional nations (Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uruguay) have achieved consultative status by acceding to the Treaty and by conducting substantial scientific research in Antarctica. Russia carries forward the signatory privileges and responsibilities established by the former Soviet Union.

Another 21 nations have acceded to the Antarctic Treaty: Austria, Belarus, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Malaysia, Monaco, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela. These nations agree to abide by the treaty and may attend consultative meetings as observers.

The 50 Antarctic Treaty nations represent about two-thirds of the world’s human population.

Consultative meetings have been held approximately every other year since the treaty entered into force, but since 1993 they have been held more frequently. Each meeting has generated recommendations regarding operation of the treaty that, when ratified by the participating governments, become binding on the parties to the treaty.

Additional meetings within the Antarctic Treaty system have produced agreements on conservation of seals, conservation of living resources, and comprehensive environmental protection. For detailed information about the Treaty System, please visit the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat web site at http://www.ats.aq/.

What follows is the complete text of the Antarctic Treaty. The headings for each article were added by the National Science Foundation and are unofficial.

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Facebook is *NOT* Decrypting Your Secure Messages!

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FacebookDecrypt

Today, a story broke, claiming that

FACEBOOK TO DECRYPT “SECURE” MESSAGES OVER CYBER-BULLYING ACCUSATIONS

This appeared to originate on the InfoWars.com site.  While that site has some interesting stuff and breaks some stories, it also over hypes much of it and posts an amazing amount of conspiracy theory stuff.

But, none of that is reason to automatically disbelieve this claim.  But this is… the first paragraph of the story, explains it all.  I hate facebook for many reasons, especially for its privacy violations, so I can’t believe I’m defending them on this, but this has been blown all out of proportion.  Specifically…

“When you report a secret conversation, recent messages from that conversation will be decrypted and sent securely from your device to our Help Team for review,”

Facebook  DOES NOT DECRYPT the secret messages!!!. YOU DO!  And then you voluntarily SEND IT to facebook.

Now, that’s not to say that they don’t do other nefarious stuff, because they DO!  But this is not one of them.  The ONLY way Facebook can see the encrypted conversation is if someone in the conversation MAKES A CONSCIOUS CHOICE to send it to facebook.  And that conversation is decrypted by that participant’s phone, NOT by facebook themselves.

So, step back, take a breath, and brow beat facebook for their many other privacy violations that actually do exist.

Disclaimer:  If Facebook is decrypting messages, this InfoWars story’s first paragraph text refutes that, in spite of all the hype later.

Lawsuit claims Facebook illegally scanned private messages

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