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Microsoft

What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft? 27

Posted by timothy
from the hypthetical-or-not dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft spent billions purchasing Mojang, the studio behind the game Minecraft, and while it's unlikely to start work on a sequel anytime soon, rather than continue development of the game, it's worth considering what a Minecraft 2 will look like. After all, as a public company with revenues to justify, it doesn't seem beyond unreasonable a few years down the line, especially since a Minecraft-like game was one of the stand-out tech demos shown for the software giant's HoloLens augmented reality headset. As the author points out, Microsoft will have to tread carefully, tackling issues like whether greater graphical fidelity is actually what players will want ever — and whether to continue to support Minecraft on PlayStation."
GUI

Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions 134

Posted by timothy
from the text-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes 14 years after the Anna Kournikova virus took advantage of users' ignorance about file-name extensions in order to wreak worldwide havoc, virus writers and hackers are still taking advantage of the tendency of popular consumer operating systems to hide file-name extensions: Windows users still need to activate extension visibility manually – even though email-transmitted viruses depend most on less savvy users who will never do this. Additionally applications on even the latest versions of Apple's OSX operating system still require the user to 'opt in' to including a file-name extension during an initial save. In looking at some of the eccentricities of the modern user experience, this article argues that it might be time to admit that users need to understand, embrace and responsibly use the only plain-text, obvious indicator of what a file actually is.
Graphics

Khronos Group Announces Vulkan To Compete Against DirectX 12 25

Posted by timothy
from the cross-platform-good dept.
Phopojijo writes The Khronos Group has announced the Vulkan API for compute and graphics. Its goal is to compete against DirectX 12. It has some interesting features, such as queuing to multiple GPUs and an LLVM-based bytecode for its shading language to remove the need for a compiler from the graphics drivers. Also, the API allows graphics card vendors to support Vulkan with drivers back to Windows XP "and beyond."
Censorship

Inside the North Korean Data Smuggling Movement 34

Posted by timothy
from the western-imperialists-violating-the-kim-family's-rights dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes A new Wired magazine story goes inside the North Korean rebel movement seeking to overthrow Kim Jong-un by smuggling USB drives into the country packed with foreign television and movies. As the story describes, one group has stashed USB drives in Chinese cargo trucks. Another has passed them over from tourist boats that meet with fishermen mid-river. Others arrange USB handoffs at the Chinese border in the middle of the night with walkie talkies, laser pointers, and bountiful bribes. Even Kim assassination comedy The Interview, which the North Korean government allegedly hacked Sony to prevent from being released, has made it into the country: Chinese traders' trucks carried 20 copies of the film across the border the day after Christmas, just two days after its online release.
Graphics

NVIDIA Fixes Old Compiz Bug 40

Posted by timothy
from the mayan-long-count dept.
jones_supa writes NVIDIA has fixed a long-standing issue in the Ubuntu Unity desktop by patching Compiz. When opening the window of a new application, it would go black or become transparent on NVIDIA hardware. There have been bug reports dating back to Ubuntu 12.10 times. The problem was caused by Compiz, which had some leftover code from a port. An NVIDIA developer posted on Launchpad and said the NVIDIA team has been looking at this issue, and they also proposed a patch. "Our interpretation of the specification is that creating two GLX pixmaps pointing at the same drawable is not allowed, because it can lead to poorly defined behavior if the properties of both GLX drawables don't match. Our driver prevents this, but Compiz appears to try to do this," wrote NVIDIA's Arthur Huillet. The Compiz patch has been accepted upstream.
Government

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email At State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the may-have-also-used-personal-lungs-to-breathe dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, according to State Department officials. She may have violated federal requirements that officials' correspondence be retained as part of the agency's record. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act. "It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," said attorney Jason R. Baron. A spokesman for Clinton defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the "letter and spirit of the rules."
Android

Google Backs Off Default Encryption on New Android Lollilop Devices 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-the-people-what-the-government-wants dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Although Google announced in September 2014 that Android 5.0 Lollipop would require full-disk encryption by default in new cell phones, Ars Technica has found otherwise in recently-released 2nd-gen Moto E and Galaxy S6. It turns out, according to the latest version of the Android Compatibility Definition document (PDF), full-disk encryption is currently only "very strongly recommended" in anticipation of mandatory encryption requirements in the future. The moral of the story is: don't be lazy — check that your full-disk encryption is actually enabled.
Software

How a Kickstarter Project Can Massively Exceed Its Funding Goals and Still Fail 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the optimism-to-a-fault dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In November, 2013, a Kickstarter project for a software-defined camera trigger scored £290,386 (~$450,000) in funding after asking for a mere £50,000. After almost a year of delays, they've now announced the project is dead. Their CEO has published a lengthy article about how such a successful funding round can still turn into a failed product. In short: budgeting. To get their software into a workable state, they ended up spending 940% of the amount they'd originally allocated to software development. Their protoyping went over budget, too, and they had to spend a fair bit in legal fees to fend off a major camera manufacturer complaining about their product's name.

Still, they had more funding than they expected, and would have been able to deal with these costs. Unfortunately, the bill of materials for their final product clocked in way higher than they expected. They would have had to sell the device at about $350 each, when they were originally targeting a $99 price point. (And that figure assumes good sales — with a smaller production run, price per unit goes even higher.) The company is now going to refund the remaining money left over from its Kickstarter campaign — about 20% of the total. They're also open sourcing the software and sharing the PCB designs and schematics.
Businesses

Games Workshop At 40: How They Brought D&D To Britain 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-not-over-the-hill dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Following on the fortieth anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons last year, another formative influence on modern gaming is celebrating its fortieth birthday: Games Workshop. Playing at the World covers the story of how the founders, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (not the other Steve Jackson), started out as subscribers to the 1960s British gaming zine Albion playing Diplomacy by mail and (in Ian's case) publishing silly cartoons. When Albion folded at the beginning of 1975, Livingstone and Jackson formed Games Workshop with its own zine Owl & Weasel as a way to bring "progressive games" (as in "progressive rock") to the UK. Shortly thereafter, when they discovered Dungeons & Dragons, fantasy and role-playing games became their focus. After Owl & Weasel grew up into White Dwarf in 1977, its famous "Fiend Factory" column ended up populating the D&D Fiend Folio. And in the 1980s, of course, they brought us Warhammer and their retail stories brought stylish miniatures to many a needful gamer. Happy birthday to Games Workshop!
Space

Astronomers Find an Old-Looking Galaxy In the Early Universe 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the diamond-in-the-old dept.
schwit1 tips news that a team of astronomers has studied one of the most distant galaxies ever observed and found puzzling results. The light we're seeing from this galaxy comes from roughly 700 million years after the Big Bang, so on the cosmic scale, it's quite young. But the galaxy appears much older than astronomers expected. Their paper was published today in Nature. At this age it would be expected to display a lack of heavier chemical elements — anything heavier than hydrogen and helium, defined in astronomy as metals. These are produced in the bellies of stars and scattered far and wide once the stars explode or otherwise perish. This process needs to be repeated for many stellar generations to produce a significant abundance of the heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Surprisingly, the galaxy A1689-zD1 seemed to be emitting a lot of radiation in the far infrared, indicating that it had already produced many of its stars and significant quantities of metals, and revealed that it not only contained dust, but had a dust-to-gas ratio that was similar to that of much more mature galaxies.
Crime

Police Could Charge Data Center Operators In the Largest Child Porn Bust Ever 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the enforcing-due-diligence dept.
sarahnaomi sends this report from Motherboard: Canadian police say they've uncovered a massive online file sharing network for exploitative material that could involve up to 7,500 users in nearly 100 countries worldwide. But unlike past investigations into the distribution of child porn, which typically involve targeting suspects individually, police have instead seized over 1.2 petabytes of data ... from a data center responsible for storing the material, and may even attempt to lay criminal charges against its operators, too.

"What we are alleging is occurring is that there are individuals and organizations that are profiting from the storage and the exchange of child sexual exploitation material," Scott Tod, Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), told Motherboard at a conference late last month, after speaking to a crowd of defense specialists. "They store it and they provide a secure website that you can log into, much like people do with illegal online gaming sites."
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Which Classic OOP Compiled Language: Objective-C Or C++? 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-as-classic-as-COBOL dept.
Qbertino writes: I've been trying to pick up a classic, object-oriented, compiled language since the early 90s, but have never gotten around to it. C++ was always on my radar, but I'm a little torn to-and-fro with Objective-C. Objective-C is the obvious choice if you also want to make money developing for Mac OS X, but for the stuff I want to do, both languages would suffice on all platforms. I do want to start out on x86 Linux, though, and also use it as my main development platform. Yes, I know quite a few other languages, but I want to get into a widespread compiled language that has good ties into FOSS. Both Objective-C and C++ fit that bill. What do you recommend? How do these two programming languages compare with each other, and how easy is cross-platform development in either? (Primarily GUI-free, "headless" applications.)
Data Storage

New Seagate Shingled Hard Drive Teardown 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the made-out-of-actual-shingles dept.
New submitter Peter Desnoyers writes: Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) drives are starting to hit the market, promising larger drives without heroic (and expensive) measures such as helium fill, but at a cost — data can no longer be over-written in place, requiring SSD-like algorithms to handle random writes.

At the USENIX File and Storage Technologies conference in February, researchers from Northeastern University (disclaimer — I'm one of them) dissected shingled drive performance both figuratively and literally, using both micro-benchmarks and a window cut in the drive to uncover the secrets of Seagate's first line of publicly-available SMR drives.

TL;DR: It's a pretty good desktop drive — with write cache enabled (the default for non-server setups) and an intermittent workload it performs quite well, handling bursts of random writes (up to a few tens of GB total) far faster than a conventional drive — but only if it has long powered-on idle periods for garbage collection. Reads and large writes run at about the same speed as on a conventional drive, and at $280 it costs less than a pair of decent 4TB drives. For heavily-loaded server applications, though, you might want to wait for the next generation. Here are a couple videos (in 16x slow motion) showing the drive in action — sequential read after deliberately fragmenting the drive, and a few thousand random writes.
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the steering-the-ship dept.
An anonymous reader writes For the 20th anniversary of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer discusses how she's trying to reinvent the company. In a wide-ranging interview, Mayer shares her vision for fixing the company's past mistakes, including a major investment in mobile and a new ad platform. Yet she's been dogged by critics who see her as an imperious micromanager, who criticize her $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, and who fault her for moving too slowly. The company's executives explain that the business could only return to health after she first halted Yahoo's brain drain and went big on mobile. As one Yahoo employee summarized Mayer's thinking: "First people, then apps."
Google

Google Prepares To Enter Wireless Market As an MVNO 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-something-different dept.
jfruh writes Google is getting into the wireless connectivity business, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to use them as your wireless connectivity provider any time soon. The company isn't building its own cell network, but will rather be a "mobile virtual network operator" offering services over existing networks. Google says it won't be a full-service mobile network in competition with existing carriers; instead, the MVNO will offer a platform through which it can experiment with new services for Android smartphones.