0686: "Admin Mourning"

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Uryuujin
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0686: "Admin Mourning"

Postby Uryuujin » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:07 am UTC

Image

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.
-Uryuujin

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Re: Admin Mourning

Postby lingomaniac88 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:08 am UTC

This could be the premise of the newest horror movie.

"Night of the Living User," in theaters everywhere!
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:08 am UTC

Ah, nice to see a bit of the computer humor back, even if it's rather morbid.

So... what happens when a user logs back on as a zombie?
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby calico » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:09 am UTC

<Insert applicable ordinal number here>

Wow, I thought I was a geek until this comic... I am so ashamed of myself.
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lihan161051
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby lihan161051 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:14 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:So... what happens when a user logs back on as a zombie?


They complain uselessly when people try to talk to them, and hint obliquely that the error messages they'd get otherwise would be even less helpful?

almafuerte
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby almafuerte » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:14 am UTC

Amazing strip. As a sysadmin, I would save that /var/log/lastlog for posterity.

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Omegaton
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:15 am UTC

I'd be pretty lost if I hadn't just learned some of this stuff in a computing class.

pokoleo
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby pokoleo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:16 am UTC

...Don't su me, I'll su you first,

lihan161051
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby lihan161051 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:18 am UTC

Somewhat more disturbing is how aggressive social networking sites can be about bugging you to "reconnect with" users who are recently deceased .. that's just creepy. :/

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.)

ARVash
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby ARVash » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:19 am UTC

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

Kudos !
Hey!

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glasnt
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby glasnt » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:20 am UTC

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

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Omegaton
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:21 am UTC

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

Kudos !

Aw man, I didn't even catch that. That makes it much better, haha.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby TheDarkNerd » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:35 am UTC

You know, I register just to ask: is Ghost in the Shell in turn a reference to something else? Or did Randall just really make an anime reference?

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

This one just gave me a quick flash-burn of cheese, which I always enjoy. At least I was able to half-get the linux part of it.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby armorsmith42 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:36 am UTC

Is this the growing uptime a reference to Ksplice?
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby shofixti » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:37 am UTC

I've actually lived this.

I also wonder what prompted it.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby MSTK » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:51 am 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


bravo. i just created an account to commend this post.

Agnostos
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Agnostos » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:59 am UTC

This reminds me of a Private Ragnarok server I used to run.
A number of years ago I noticed the same group of 4 people logging on at a particular time nearly every night. I became decent friends with them through the game (never revealed I was an admin to them). Then one day they stopped coming online. I found out 2 months later from an email from one of them that the other 3 had passed away in a car crash gone to grab snacks for that nights game.
I was fairly saddened by this when it happened. however I remember when I eventually shut down the server for the last time that, the last online traces of them would be gone with it.
It was a fairly saddening moment when that happened.

Oh - joined just to post that
*smiles sadly*

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Atrophy » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:03 am UTC

MSTK wrote:bravo. i just created an account to commend this post.


MSTK? As in MSTKeyes, or do I have the wrong person?

Also, it says you have 87 posts and joined over a year ago.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby poxic » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:04 am UTC

MSTK wrote:bravo. i just created an account to commend this post.

I commend you on your su skills. MSTK might not.

/ :P
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endlessvoid94
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby endlessvoid94 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:04 am UTC

This is pretty poignant.

One of my best friends committed suicide on Dec. 20th. I logged into our local ACM student chapter cluster and had to run 'rwho -a'. He's still logged in, has been since Dec. 16th.

Damn. :-(
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby rmunroe » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:14 am UTC

I have experienced this myself. My coworker and good friend died from a heart attack at age 33 (enlarged heart), and he left his workstation locked when he went home, so his AIM session was still active for a good few days after he died. I wanted to IM him that I was sorry he passed away, knowing that no one would see it (the only one who could unlock the machine was him or an admin could log him off, but not see the IMs). I decided against it, but I wonder if anyone else did IM him.

I still haven't removed him from my buddy list, even though he died in 2004. I guess that's my little way of holding out hope.

-Rob

endlessvoid94
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby endlessvoid94 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:19 am UTC

I did text my friend. It was horrible.

How am I supposed to, say, remove him from my contacts list on my phone? Or stuff like that? Ugh.
"Imagination is a poor substitute for experience."

"Once in awhile it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to."

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Kerthunk » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:28 am UTC

This is almost a two for one anime reference.

I mean, the obvious one is Ghost in the Shell, one of the definitive cyberpunk anime/movies/tv shows ever.

The second thign this reminds me of is Serial Experiments Lain, which started off with a classmate killing herself, only to send Lain email the next day.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby cement » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:40 am UTC

Umm, there's no title-text for this comic at this time...I've checked the source code and everything.
(title="")

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:05 am UTC

I thought ghost in the shell had other meanings before the animé used it?
Alt text: "And every day it gets harder to fight the urge to su to the user and freak people out.
Which is why screen can password-protect sessions. :P
rmunroe wrote:I have experienced this myself. My coworker and good friend died from a heart attack at age 33 (enlarged heart), and he left his workstation locked when he went home, so his AIM session was still active for a good few days after he died. I wanted to IM him that I was sorry he passed away, knowing that no one would see it (the only one who could unlock the machine was him or an admin could log him off, but not see the IMs). I decided against it, but I wonder if anyone else did IM him.
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
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby thanksbastards » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:07 am UTC

seriel experiment lain, keep forgtetting to check that out

oblig GOMHR as I just made plans maybe 3 hours ago to watch GITS series with a buddy tommorow night, who i havent seen or talked to in over two years, so i gues i could have declared her dead?

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Isaac20 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:15 am UTC

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


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?

Edit: Okay that still doesn't really bypass those situations you mentioned. I suppose it could send a message to a trustworthy person, asking if you are really dead. If the answer is yes, then it proceeds. If not, then it starts over?

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby arcticfox.sq » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:20 am UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:I thought ghost in the shell had other meanings before the animé used it?
Alt text: "And every day it gets harder to fight the urge to su to the user and freak people out.
Which is why screen can password-protect sessions. :P
rmunroe wrote:I have experienced this myself. My coworker and good friend died from a heart attack at age 33 (enlarged heart), and he left his workstation locked when he went home, so his AIM session was still active for a good few days after he died. I wanted to IM him that I was sorry he passed away, knowing that no one would see it (the only one who could unlock the machine was him or an admin could log him off, but not see the IMs). I decided against it, but I wonder if anyone else did IM him.
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...)


You could have a program execute all that UNLESS you periodically input a password that disables it till the next checkpoint. .. although you'd then come across the problem of what if unforeseen circumstances force you to be away from your computer for longer than the preset period. You could also set up a similar system that sends the detailed instructions of how to activate the program to your trusted people when you don't input the password on time.
Image

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Catinthewall » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:39 am UTC

As a user with the account name of the deceased, this comic made me feel rather scared. GET OUT OF MY COFFIN RANDAL.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Red Hal » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:48 am UTC

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.
Lost Greatest Silent Baby X Y Z. "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby huntse » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:55 am UTC

This thread really touched a chord with me as I am still living this to a certain extent. My uncle was a real inspiration to me as a kid and probably the reason I got into programming computers (he was a professional programmer). When I got my own domain he liked the name so I gave him an email address. When he died (horrible story - much too young) I put a bounce message on his email so people would stop sending to that address.

When the bounce bounces it goes to the postmaster (me). So now, years after he died, I still receive his spam in my postmaster inbox. It makes me sad even now.

Sean

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby punto » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:59 am UTC

irssi inside a screen? get out of my head Randall!

(when I die, I hope somebody'll grep for me)

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby teaser » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:07 am UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote: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.

Such a note 'to be read upon death' is usually called a last will or testament.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby hideki101 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:42 am UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:-Big post cut for space-

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.
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Plasma Man » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:55 am UTC

Or have sequential messages. Not checked in for a week? You're not well. Not checked in for a month? You're in hospital. Not checked in for 6 months? You've passed away. It would allow some leeway for missing a login, plus it has the "break it gently" factor.
Please note that despite the lovely avatar Sungura gave me, I am not a medical doctor.

Possibly my proudest moment on the fora.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby lulzfish » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:25 am UTC

punto wrote:(when I die, I hope somebody'll grep for me)

For whom the grep tolls.

I haven't had any personal friends die yet, but almost all of them have moved away, or didn't live near here in the first place. I feel weird, thinking that I used to be friends with someone, and now I'm not, and that they could easily die, even 50 years from now, before I see them again. All that remains are the pictures, the memories, and a stranger who resembles them. And a classmate with the same name.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby Alzhaid » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:52 am UTC

I liked a lot Ghost in the Shell, but apart from making me remember that, this comic was depressing! Maybe because people I loved died and now their names are around in mobile phone contact lists and the like... Difficult for me, this time, to have a sense of humor about that.

Edit: I think I'll just get back to the G-Spot strip discussion to think about the joy of sex rather than death!

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby tahrey » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:58 am UTC

Guys, the thing you're looking for is called "dead man's handle". For the more paranoid of us (or those who actually live life on the ragged edge) it can be set to require a passcode entered on a quite frequent basis... say once every 12 hours, even. You don't enter the password (even by texting or remote screen)? System wipe, full disconnect and shutdown. On the other hand, for the mere mortals amongst us, it can probably be repurposed to wait for a few months, and if there's no activity (assuming your PC is left turned on and the electricity isn't cut off - or you leave instructions in a will to have it hooked up and powered on) it can delete all your "private" material, send out appropriate emails and shut down all your social networking stuff.

Of course there's all manner of caveats in all of that, which is why it's better to leave it up to a trustworthy human executor instead of an unintelligent script. I plan to seal a small package with all my passwords, buried somewhere in the garden, and my will shall contain instructions for finding it and what to do afterwards ("run delporn.bat, archive my other files onto some of those 200-year gold DVDRs and repurpose the computer as you see fit, send out texts, emails and/or facebook messages to all addressbook contacts, set my status to "is an ex-tahrey" and ask the FB admins to memorialise the account, log on to forums a, b & c and tell them the news... Hop on my Yahoo webpage and change it up to BLARG I'M DED (optionally transferring the whole affair to some free service and taking the custom address with it), then change the passwords on all of these to a randomly generated set of letters and numbers, log out, and burn/forget the sequences"). They may not actually honour this, and may use what they find for their own nefarious, perverted ends, but I will be past caring at that point. It's more likely that they'll succeed if they do go along with the instructions, being able to adapt to changing link titles/URLs/etc. If I'm actually observing from the spirit world I can at least haunt them ;)

Back to the strip: Oh me yarm TERRIBLE PUN. BAD RANDALL! NO BISCUITS!
BTW if this is for a friend, I hope that your memories of them are good and their passing was not too unpleasant.

For the ponderers, Ghost in the Shell is titled as a reference to some previous work, but I can't remember which; it's also simply the concept of the "spirit" (ie ghost - any good catholic should spot that overlap ;)) in the machine - the gremlins that some automatons, vehicles or gadgets seem to posess, or the soul that others appear imbued with. If you have a computer which seems to be displaying this, so much that the AI you coded into it as proof of concept seems to have taken on its own personality... is it then moral to pull the plug?
Spoiler:
Fairly apt given that the story concerns an intelligence-service AI becoming self aware and wanting a body and independent existence of its own - and the cyborg policewoman assigned to the case having her mind sucked into cyberspace by said AI and eventually redeposited in a different, fully robotic body...

Also shades of Lain, definitely. But take solace from Doctor Who - the user may well have left the library, but it doesn't mean that they cannot, in some way, be saved. Write the session state out to hard storage... their data ghost/echo can stay in a permanent memorial holding loop...

PS RIP Alasdair, I cannot remember the exact date but I was packing away christmas decorations at one of my first jobs when I heard the news so the 6th anniversary would be sometime around now. Forever lost to the sea that he loved .... sadly on his first independent jaunt. We can but hope he was elated right up to the point that wave crashed down and revealed the jagged rocks hidden below. The only friend "missing" so far; between him and but three family members (two of whom I barely knew and the third having been effectively out of it for some years "thanks" to a stroke), I have been lucky, I suppose.

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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby libra » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:41 am UTC

Thanks for reminding me to include a provision in my will to have my own data shadow taken care of properly when I am gone.

Morbid thought to end the week on, but it makes sense to make sure, after passing, that your online ghost is laid to rest, just as much as it makes sense to take care to wrap up your financial affairs.

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John Romberg
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Re: "Admin Mourning" Discussion

Postby John Romberg » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:53 am UTC

Alzhaid wrote:Maybe because people I loved died and now their names are around in mobile phone contact lists and the like...

endlessvoid94 wrote:How am I supposed to, say, remove him from my contacts list on my phone?


You two would be great targets for what I did to my buddy a while back. Something like the alt text suggests, but with phones.

Our mutual friend had died a few days before so I swiped his phone and substituted the deceased person’s number with my own. That's it! Then just dial your buddy and watch him squirm for a few seconds while he's looking at the phone and processing the many possible implications in his head. A few of which involve supernatural explanations...


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