0686: "Admin Mourning"

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MrAlex
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby MrAlex » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:16 am UTC

...anyone has a pun involving daemons?
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby JasonLives » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:27 am UTC

GNU John Dearheart

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:46 am UTC

This reminded me of something I had seen on the local news or read somewhere, that this was starting to become a growing problem. When people pass away, their last wills very rarely leave instructions on what to do for all of their e-mail or other Internet accounts, including chat rooms, fora, and other similar ilk. I think they had said that it's best to have all of your usernames and passwords written down somewhere, for all the sites you visit, so that your survivors would be able to go in and have your accounts removed.

I think it's sadder when someone on the Internet dies, than when someone dies in real life. I guess it's because on the Internet, we always expect them to be there, always expect them to post something on the fora we know them from, enter the chat room, or send an e-mail back whenever we send one.

I had a close friend whom I believe passed away that was a manager of a pet group I was once in, and also frequented a chat room I helped run. We knew she had been sick, and had been going to dialysis a few times a week, leaving her wiped out. She was only able to come in on Saturday and Sunday nights. After a few months of that, she quit coming in all together, and another member had been in contact with her. A couple of months later she no longer heard from her, and about three months after that, we presumed her having passed away. Thing is, this happened over a year ago, and I still haven't brought myself to delete her e-mail from my address book, nor to delete her from Windows Live Messenger. The other member and I had been talking, and we had both agreed that it would have confirmed it.
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creaothceann
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby creaothceann » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

Another "Randall, get out of my head" moment - I'm currently on a GitS binge, having seen the first two movies, the manga and the first "Stand Alone Complex" season.


lihan161051 wrote:It'll definitely be creepier still when each of us has AI agents that keep working long after we're gone, because no one told them to stop.

And WAR GAMES showed us what can happen...

TheDarkNerd wrote:You know, I register just to ask: is Ghost in the Shell in turn a reference to something else?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_machine

TheDarkNerd wrote:Of course, this one is common enough that even Michael Crichton has referenced it. Where? I forget. But a programmer had a GitS shirt.

Not Jurassic Park, or was it?

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:<snip>

But if you overdo it, it reeks of narcism...

hideki101 wrote:You could try an implant that detects whether or not your heart is beating, and set it to go off if your heart stops for however many hours.

What about brain death?

PatrickRsGhost wrote:This reminded me of something I had seen on the local news or read somewhere, that this was starting to become a growing problem. When people pass away, their last wills very rarely leave instructions on what to do for all of their e-mail or other Internet accounts, including chat rooms, fora, and other similar ilk. I think they had said that it's best to have all of your usernames and passwords written down somewhere, for all the sites you visit, so that your survivors would be able to go in and have your accounts removed.

Net-based communication is inherently unreliable; standard solution is to rely on timeout detection.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby EldestPort » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:01 pm UTC

ARVash wrote:Is this the first anime reference on XKCD? (Ghost in the Shell)

Kudos !


I thought that but then I thought 'no, that's just too geeky'. What a sorry underestimation on my part.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby ctristan » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:15 pm UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:This sort of thing is why I'd like to have some way for my PC to detect my death, and upon that event, broadcast it to forums/IRC channels I frequent and my AIM/MSN buddies, and activate a web server sharing the entire hard drive. (Maybe some torrents too, in case it gets shut down for having a large music/movie collection.) That way all of my work, unreleased unfinished creations, and most of all personal things (which at that point don't really need to be private anymore) are not lost.
Aside from not dooming those creations to be lost forever on a discarded/sold-and-wiped hard drive, it'd serve as a sort of instant autobiography. (Although I think the oldest files I have are around 7 years, which has to be about as long as I've had a computer... the date information has unfortunately been repeatedly lost, but the files themselves tell me almost immediately what year they're from, often containing dates within them.)

The problem, of course, is I don't know how to make a computer run a program when I die. I'm the kind of paranoid nutjob who worries about someone (be it burglars or police) snooping around/raiding my home (not to mention my /home - zing!), so leaving a note "to be read upon my death" detailing how to disable all security won't do. I can't exactly send a message to it from beyond the grave - at least not using any method I know - and any device monitoring my vital signs is likely to mistake me for dead when it falls off in my sleep (or I take it off to swim and forget), I walk in -35°C weather, it breaks, etc.
The only method I've seen that would be reliable is a watchdog timer - if I don't check in every few days, assume I'm dead. With me, though, there's no guarantee I'd be able to check in. Being hospitalized, arrested, or stranded would make that difficult.
Then, regardless of method, there's the testing issue. I'm likely to screw it up, and it's quite like making a bomb - you can test some of the components before you assemble it, but you sure as hell can't test the final result.

Clearly, the obvious solution is to find a few trustworthy people (heavy redundancy is needed here) whom I can be certain will remember the information, keep it top secret, and never misuse it. Sadly, such trustworthy people are not easy to find, and the few I do know are so computer/security illiterate, there's no way they'd be able to keep the secret and successfully activate the program. (It can't be simple, or else again, snoopers...)



AAAAAAAANYWAY the comic was quite amusing and I spotted multiple puns. Top notch.
Also, I did see title text. O.o


A couple of years ago when I was feeling suicidal (long story) I actually wrote a perl script that ran on an externally hosted web server so I could guarantee it would be up 99.999% of the time. Every seven days it would send me an email, and if I didn't reply in the next seven days it would send a warning email that it will trigger in the next seven days if I didn't reply, and then seven days after that if I still didn't reply it would send out an email to my internet friends that I was gone, and send an email to my loved ones saying goodbye and where to find my keepass database and what the password to open it is so they could access all of my bank accounts and my computer accounts and whatnot. And of course the script would also delete itself so it wouldn't be a constant reminder of my death every week, although the thought of getting an email from a dead person every week is oddly humorous to me.

I've long since disabled that script, although if I was to do it again I would look into scripts that would automatically update my Twitter account with a status update of my death (which is already synchronized to MySpace and Facebook so those would get the update as well), and maybe making sure all of my documents were on Google Docs so I could share them all or something.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby dr_phaustus » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:18 pm UTC

Uryuujin wrote:
Alt text: "And every day it gets harder to fight the urge to su to the user and freak people out.

An interesting comic today... Wonder what prompted it.


Nice! Where are the mod points when they are deserved!!

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby bsk » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:19 pm UTC

Users die? I thought they just got layed off.

ps. Had to register to post. Registration says "Username: Length must be between 3 and 30 characters." Now, it clearly accepts just 3 characters, which is NOT "between 3 and 30". Huh. Logic or math error?

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Carteeg_Struve » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

bsk wrote:ps. Had to register to post. Registration says "Username: Length must be between 3 and 30 characters." Now, it clearly accepts just 3 characters, which is NOT "between 3 and 30". Huh. Logic or math error?



It's lack of clarity on a detail. But it is a lack of clarity most people assume to mean the same thing, so nobody minds.

Basically, it's "between 3 and 30 (range start and end inclusive)."

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Random832 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

Uryuujin wrote:An interesting comic today... Wonder what prompted it.


Obvious answer: PS1='%m%# ' PS2='%_> ' PS3='?# ' PS4='+%N:%i> '

But seriously - I suspect this was written around the pun.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby paulrowe » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:25 pm UTC

Isaac20 wrote:You could just have the timer set to a year or so. Pretty hard to forget about it for that long. Better late than never, right?


Then, if you were really alive and come back once the timer has expired, you find your house and all its contents up for auction because you have been presumed dead.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby ianf » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:35 pm UTC

lihan161051 wrote:On a somewhat more philosophical note, it's interesting how much of a data shadow we leave behind these days. It'll definitely be creepier still when each of us has AI agents that keep working long after we're gone, because no one told them to stop ..

(But seriously. There needs to be a "this person is deceased" report on a lot of these sites.)


Some sites are already doing this, like Facebook's "memorialize" feature (http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.ph ... m=deceased). One of my (real life) friends died really young last year and it's still a bit of a jolt when he shows up somewhere on facebook.

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:Clearly, the obvious solution is to find a few trustworthy people (heavy redundancy is needed here) whom I can be certain will remember the information, keep it top secret, and never misuse it. Sadly, such trustworthy people are not easy to find, and the few I do know are so computer/security illiterate, there's no way they'd be able to keep the secret and successfully activate the program. (It can't be simple, or else again, snoopers...)


You should tie it into your will. There will be legalities associated with your death and it's easiest to just incorporate your online identity into those, rather than try to setup up something new. I imagine this sort of thing will become more common in the next few years.

Red Hal wrote:Requiescat in Pace, Deus ex Machina? 'Ghost in the shell' is a corruption of the much older phrase. It is particularly appropriate in this case.


It reminded me of the phrase "Ghost in the Machine" (a book by Koestler, but I think the expression predates the book).

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby flguy1980 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:51 pm UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:Clearly, the obvious solution is to find a few trustworthy people (heavy redundancy is needed here) whom I can be certain will remember the information, keep it top secret, and never misuse it. Sadly, such trustworthy people are not easy to find, and the few I do know are so computer/security illiterate, there's no way they'd be able to keep the secret and successfully activate the program. (It can't be simple, or else again, snoopers...)


My wife and I don't share any passwords, but she's given me the following directives for when she dies: have her Facebook and Twitter accounts deleted, and DBAN her hard drive. And go to Verizon and see if they'd let me cancel her phone without the "early termination fee". I have given her a similar directive for me.

In recent years, I've had two dead-user incidents:

- About a year ago, a high-school classmate of mine lost her four-year battle with a brain tumor. I have recently seen her logged onto Facebook, but I didn't message her. My guess: a friend or relative cleaning up her account. Facebook doesn't seem to be aware of her death, but her wall is kept neatly trimmed and has lots of posts from friends, especially wishing her a happy hypothetical 30th birthday.

- A few years ago, I was the sysadmin for a high school. Most teachers in the school district have accounts on "the mainframe"--they TN3270 into an IBM CICS database server to look up student schedules. Well, apparently, two teachers had been sharing an account for a very long time. One of them lost her battle with breast cancer and died--and her accounts were all disabled. Needless to say, I got a call from the other teacher reporting that she can't access the mainframe. I eventually realize that she never had an account of her own.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:02 pm UTC

So, the moral of the comic is: user deaths are good for server uptimes.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Gatesunder » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy ... _the_Shell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_machine

Also, I am pretty sure the least convenient way to notify the webs of your demise would be to have a chip implanted in your body that monitors your brain waves/heart and reports wirelessly once signals indicative of functioning have ceased to be received.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:45 pm UTC

Uryuujin wrote:An interesting comic today... Wonder what prompted it.


I'm betting "Oooh, hahahaha, 'Ghost in Zshell'! I found out a totally amazing pun! Now I must create a comic for that".

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby LtBrenton » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:52 pm UTC

glasnt wrote:Alias, we declare that user has exited this shell, but we will not gawk at their demise, for they are with the mkdir, now.

Spoiler:
/bad attempt at shell puns


ssh man, less is more

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby adaviel » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

Good stuff here.

I recall a story of some social site, webmail etc. that would not grant access to next-of-kin or estate executor. So putting your passwords (or instructions for retrieval, encryption keys etc.) in a sealed envelope with your will is probably a good idea. It might take years to get access otherwise, and meanwhile if some scum hacks the account and starts abusing it it would be really difficult to stop them (offering indignity to a digital corpse ??).

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Istaro » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:17 pm UTC

LtBrenton wrote:
glasnt wrote:Alias, we declare that user has exited this shell, but we will not gawk at their demise, for they are with the mkdir, now.

Spoiler:
/bad attempt at shell puns


ssh man, less is more


Well done.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby ron_post » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:38 pm UTC

As no one has mentioned this yet (and it took a moment to register for me), the format of the strip is taken from another webcomic, A Softer World, and works beautifully with it. A surprisingly touching xkcd (with a bite at the end, as usual).

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby javahead » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:44 pm UTC

Funny as I just caught up with my DVR and caught an episode of Better off Ted from Jan 5 where an employee dies on the job.

So, get out of my head.

Reference to GitS is Limburgery though

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby cream wobbly » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:46 pm UTC

A sysadmin, I found it powerful.

And the hover text funny.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby riddler » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:06 pm UTC

I worked at a corporate nazi-house for years. When someone died, they immediately removed him/her from all systems, removed security clearances and cancelled credit cards - even before they announced to the staff that the person had died. They were terrified that someone else would use their account or credit card after they passed on.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby gypkap » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:24 pm UTC

I have a lady friend I've known since 1972, that was never into computers other than to type an occasional EMail. She died of cancer 3 months ago, a few weeks after the last time I talked to her. She told me she had broken a hip, and didn't tell me she was dying, probably because she's Lutheran and didn't consider it a bad thing.
Anyway, this is one way to say Goodbye Judy. You'll be missed. :(

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby XbHW_TestEngr » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:28 pm UTC

Wow - on so many levels!

I'm a member of a gaming group (we refuse to call ourselves a clan). One of our members (a 16yo kid) was walking down the street and was killed by a drunk driver. We had an online memorial service which his dad and uncle attended, and have created a permanent thread on the forums. He is gone, but not forgotten.

On the other hand, with the recent death of my mother, the death of my little sister in '03, and the death of my wife in '92, plus some friends and co-workers, deleting people from phone/address book/email groups/IM, etc., has become just part of the normal grieving process - "I'm so glad I had you in my life. Goodbye. (delete)".

As for my plans, I have a password manager application - 1 pwd gets to all my pwds. I there is stuff I don't want people to have access to, I use encrypted drives (and the pwd is not in my pwd list). Simple will with instructions for accessing my computer, what emails to send out to which groups, create bounce emails on my web based email accts, and then re-purpose the computer.

Randall - if someone in your life has died, please accept my sincere condolences. Been there, done that.

Also, great comic.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby rickmccl » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

MrAlex wrote:...anyone has a pun involving daemons?

I was sure there would at least be mention of a zombie process, but perhaps this was not a Solaris system.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby super_aardvark » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:16 pm UTC

flguy1980 wrote:My wife ... [has] given me the following directives for when she dies: ... go to Verizon and see if they'd let me cancel her phone without the "early termination fee".


Ice cold...

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby psion » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

creaothceann wrote:
TheDarkNerd wrote:You know, I register just to ask: is Ghost in the Shell in turn a reference to something else?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_machine

And, obviously, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_%28computing%29

ctristan wrote:A couple of years ago when I was feeling suicidal (long story) I actually wrote a perl script that ran on an externally hosted web server so I could guarantee it would be up 99.999% of the time.

I've done similar. It's interesting to know I'm not alone.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Alphaniner » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

logged on for the first time in about a million years just to post this.

http://www.deathswitch.com/

Good comic, by the way.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby aimawish » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

I love this.
In the style of a softer world, which is wonderful. The sentiment is sweet, and the whole premise is clever.
alt text made me laugh, too.
Nicely done, as usual.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby bitwiseshift » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

rickmccl wrote:
MrAlex wrote:...anyone has a pun involving daemons?

I was sure there would at least be mention of a zombie process, but perhaps this was not a Solaris system.


If you're one of the not so faint of heart wanting an automatic weapon for killing lesser zombies...

Code: Select all

ps aux | awk '{ print $8 " " $2 }' | grep -w Z | awk '{ print $2 }' | xargs kill -9


For greader zombies, get Alice to help.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby lihan161051 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:34 pm UTC

It seems like one of the underlying problems, and one of increasing urgency over time, is that few if any of the systems we deal with and leave our online footprints in take into account that we have finite lifetimes. And the reason it's a problem is that the whole system is still new enough that most of the people who were around before there was much of an "online" -- or, in my case, were lucky enough to get in on the heady days of early-release versions of HTTP and HTML, etc. -- are still alive and well, so it just hasn't come up all that often, and the system really doesn't have any features built into it yet to gracefully handle the death of a user.

(And in this case, I mean "gracefully" on multiple levels.)

It's kind of a non-trivial design problem in some ways, because most of the current solutions involve pinging the user, one way or the other (and for some rather interesting values of "ping"), and triggering end-of-life methods on a sufficiently convincing degree of ping response failure. I'm wondering if there's a better solution that can be integrated more into online systems ..

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Richard. » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:18 pm UTC

yay Ghost in the Shell!That's a deep anime right there, and is definitely worth being in an xkcd comic. Well done and well represented in the comic, too. ;)
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Spoiler:
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby dennisw » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:43 pm UTC

lihan161051 wrote:It seems like one of the underlying problems, and one of increasing urgency over time, is that few if any of the systems we deal with and leave our online footprints in take into account that we have finite lifetimes. And the reason it's a problem is that the whole system is still new enough that most of the people who were around before there was much of an "online" -- or, in my case, were lucky enough to get in on the heady days of early-release versions of HTTP and HTML, etc. -- are still alive and well, so it just hasn't come up all that often, and the system really doesn't have any features built into it yet to gracefully handle the death of a user.

(And in this case, I mean "gracefully" on multiple levels.)

It's kind of a non-trivial design problem in some ways, because most of the current solutions involve pinging the user, one way or the other (and for some rather interesting values of "ping"), and triggering end-of-life methods on a sufficiently convincing degree of ping response failure. I'm wondering if there's a better solution that can be integrated more into online systems ..


From man ping [emphasis mine]:
TTL [Time To Live] DETAILS
The TTL value of an IP packet represents the maximum number of IP
routers that the packet can go through before being thrown away. In
current practice you can expect each router in the Internet to decre‐
ment the TTL field by exactly one
.

The TCP/IP specification states that the TTL field for TCP packets
should be set to 60, but many systems use smaller values (4.3 BSD uses
30, 4.2 used 15).

The maximum possible value of this field is 255, and most Unix systems
set the TTL field of ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to 255. This is why you
will find you can ``ping'' some hosts, but not reach them with tel‐
net(1) or ftp(1).

In normal operation ping prints the ttl value from the packet it
receives. When a remote system receives a ping packet, it can do one
of three things with the TTL field in its response:

· Not change it; this is what Berkeley Unix systems did before the
4.3BSD Tahoe release. In this case the TTL value in the received
packet will be 255 minus the number of routers in the round-trip
path.

· Set it to 255; this is what current Berkeley Unix systems do. In
this case the TTL value in the received packet will be 255 minus the
number of routers in the path from the remote system to the pinging
host.

· Set it to some other value. Some machines use the same value for ICMP
packets that they use for TCP packets, for example either 30 or 60.
Others may use completely wild values.


So I think the key to longevity is to stay away from routers and avoid getting decremented.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby nihil » Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:48 am UTC

I loved the fact that the user is called Sam. (Besides the pun with Ghost in the Shell, too.)

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:52 am UTC

Gee, I wonder if any forumites have ever died.

Also Sam is on his way to my house.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Naleh » Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:45 am UTC

This reminds me of the excellent Doctor Who episode "Silence in the Library"...

Very deep themes here. I've thought about this a lot myself in the past, but luckily I've never had to deal with it.

alvarezp
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 7:26 am UTC

Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby alvarezp » Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:50 am UTC

It made me remember when Rob Levin had the fatal accident, his account in IRC was still connected for several days.

alfeberlin
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:00 am UTC

Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby alfeberlin » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:04 am UTC

Wow, what a comic. I read each and every comic on this site, but this one made me create an account to state my admiration.

Sadly, one maybe has to lose a friend and find trailing links in virtual worlds to understand.

coredumperror
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:25 am UTC

Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby coredumperror » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:54 am UTC

I just have to say one thing: That pun was simultaneously both AMAZING and AWFUL. I hate/love you, Randall!


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