+ - 190 Final Fantasy XIV Failed Due To Overly Detailed Flowerpots

Submitted by _xeno_
_xeno_ writes: You might not remember Final Fantasy XIV, the Square Enix MMORPG that flopped so badly that Square Enix fired the original developers. But Square Enix certainly does, and at a recent GDC panel, producer Naoki Yoshida explained his views on what caused its failure. One reason? The focus on graphical quality over game play, leading to flower pots that required the same rendering power as player characters, but without the same focus on making the game fun to play. Along with severe server instability and a world made up of maze-like maps, he also sited the game being stuck in past, trying to stick with a formula that worked with Square Enix's first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there.

+ - 220 NSA hacked Huawei, stole source code->

Submitted by Charliemopps
Charliemopps writes: New documents from Snowden indicate that the NSA hacked into, and stole documents including source code from the Chinese networking firm Huawei. Ironically this is the same firm that the US Government has argued in the past was a threat due the Chinas possible use for the same sort of attacks the NSA committed.
Link to Original Source

+ - 170 King's Assembly - A Computer Mouse Full Of Awesome->

Submitted by porcusx
porcusx writes: I've experienced more than my fair share of repetitive strain injuries (of varying degrees) over the years. And unfortunately, it doesn't help that I'm held "captive" to a keyboard and mouse most of my day. (I'm sure none of you can relate to that.) So when anything comes along that holds some promise or potential for preventing strain-related injuries, I'm naturally curious. Let's just say I value a little self-preservation as it relates to my capacity to pursue my livelihood.

Meet The King's Assembly, a hardware project on Kickstarter. Here's how it's described: "A high-precision laser mouse. A full mechanical keyboard. An analog joystick. Together." That's all that was needed to get my attention. What I find intriguing about this product is that this is the first time I've seen the integration of these capabilities into a single physical device — well, actually a pair of devices; though apparently you can use one hand without the other.

From my point of view, the biggest benefit of this device seems to be not having to move my hands back and forth between keyboard and mouse over and over and over again. For me, this should help alleviate some repetitive strain injuries and help me work more efficiently. And I'm particularly curious as to how this thing performs in a gaming context! I can't wait to take it for a spin!

FWIW, I'm in no way associated with the product or its developers. I just happened to stumble across it on Kickstarter one day. But now I'm a backer, very eager to try it out. :)

Link to Original Source

+ - 226 AMD Develops New Linux Open-Source Driver Model->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: AMD privately shared with Phoronix during GDC2014 that they're developing a new Linux driver model. While there will still be an open (Gallium3D) and closed-source (Catalyst) driver, the Catalyst driver will be much smaller. AMD developers are trying to isolate the closed-source portion of the driver to just user-space while the kernel driver that's in the mainline Linux kernel would also be used by Catalyst. It's not clear if this will ultimately work but they hope it will for reducing code duplication, eliminating fragmentation with different kernels, and allowing open and closed-source driver developers to better collaborate over the AMD Radeon Linux kernel driver.
Link to Original Source

+ - 238 Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier 1

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: The NYT reports that US intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations say that Iran is building a mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz’s number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck. The mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier. “Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier,” says Cmdr. Jason Salata. “We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?” Navy intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program go south. “It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region,” said an American official who has closely followed the construction of the mock-up. The story has set off chatter about how weird and dumb Iran is for building this giant toy boat but according to Marcy Wheeler if you compare Iran's barge with America’s troubled F-35 program you end up with an even bigger propaganda prop. "I’m not all that sure what distinguishes the F-35 except the cost: Surely Iran hasn’t spent the equivalent of a trillion dollars — which is what we’ll spend on the F-35 when it’s all said and done — to build its fake boat," writes Wheeler. "So which country is crazier: Iran, for building a fake boat, or the US for funding a never-ending jet program?"

+ - 181 Fake PGP keys for crypto developers found

Submitted by IamTheRealMike
IamTheRealMike writes: In recent months fake PGP keys have been found for at least two developers on well known crypto projects: Erinn Clark, a Tor developer and Gavin Andresen, the maintainer of Bitcoin. In both cases these PGP keys are used to sign the downloads for popular pieces of crypto software. PGP keys are supposed to be verified through the web of trust, but in practice it's very hard to find a trust path between two strangers on the internet: one reply to Erinn's mail stated that despite there being 30 signatures her key, he couldn't find any trust paths to her. It's also very unclear whether anyone would notice a key substitution attack like this. This leaves three questions: who is doing this, why, and what can be done about it? An obvious candidate would be intelligence agencies, who may be trying to serve certain people with backdoored binaries via their QUANTUMTHEORY man-in-the-middle system. As to what can be done about it, switching from PGP to X.509 code signing would be an obvious candidate. Both Mac and Windows support it, obtaining a forged certificate is much harder than simply uploading a fake PGP key, and whilst X.509 certs can be issued in secret until Google's Certificate Transparency system is fully deployed, finding one would be strong evidence that an issuing CA had been compromised: something that seems plausible but for which we currently lack any evidence. Additionally, bad certificates can be revoked when found whereas beyond making blog posts, not much can be done about the fake PGP keys.

+ - 178 Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

Submitted by Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble writes: Using sophisticated pattern matching software, researchers have had substantially better success with a computer, than was obtained with human subjects, in spotting faked facial expressions of pain. [Original, paywalled article in Current Biology] From the Reuters piece: '... human subjects did no better than chance — about 50 percent ...', 'The computer was right 85 percent of the time.'

+ - 235 Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Dana Goldstein writes in The Atlantic that while one of the central tenets of raising kids in America is that parents should be actively involved in their children’s education: meeting with teachers, volunteering at school, and helping with homework that few parents stop to ask whether they’re worth the effort. Case in point: In the largest-ever study of how parental involvement affects academic achievement researchers combed through nearly three decades’ worth of longitudinal surveys of American parents and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in kids’ academic lives, from helping them with homework, to talking with them about college plans, to volunteering at their schools. What they found surprised them. Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire—regardless of a parent’s race, class, or level of education. Once kids enter middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down, an effect Robinson says could be caused by the fact that many parents may have forgotten, or never truly understood, the material their children learn in school. "As kids get older—we’re talking about K-12 education—parents’ abilities to help with homework are declining," says Keith Robinson. "Even though they may be active in helping, they may either not remember the material their kids are studying now, or in some cases never learned it themselves, but they’re still offering advice. And that means poor quality homework." The study did find a handful of parental behaviors that made a difference in their children's education such as reading aloud to young kids (PDF) (fewer than half of whom are read to daily) and talking with teenagers about college plans. "The most consistent, positive parental involvement activity is talking to your kids about their post-high school plans, and this one stood out because it was, pretty much for every racial, ethnic and socio-economic group, positively related to a number of academic outcomes—such as attendance and marks," concludes Robinson. "What this might be hinting at is the psychological component that comes from kids internalizing your message: school is important. "

+ - 120 Neovim: Vim for the 21st Century

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Neovim is a major overhaul of the vim editor to provide better scripting, cleaner support for plugins and integration with modern graphical interfaces. Modernising the large and complex codebase of Vim is a formidable task, but the developer has a clear plan, and has already begun work. There's a Bountysource fundraiser running to support the effort. If Vim is your editor of choice, check it out.

+ - 214 Genetic mugshot recreates faces from nothing but DNA->

Submitted by Todd Palin
Todd Palin writes: Researchers at Penn State university are trying to reconstruct images of faces based only on the DNA sample of the individual. As far out as this sounds, they did a pretty good job at matching the actual appearance of the faces. This is a pretty good start on a whole new use for DNA samples. Imagine a mug shot of a rapist based only on a DNA sample.
Link to Original Source

+ - 186 Creationists Demand Equal Airtime with 'Cosmos' 2

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Travis Gettys reports that creationist Danny Falkner appeared Thursday on “The Janet Mefford Show” to complain that the Fox television series and its host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, had marginalized those with dissenting views on accepted scientific truths. “I don’t recall seeing any interviews with people – that may yet come – but it’s based upon the narration from the host and then various types of little video clips of various things, cartoons and things like that,” said Falkner of Answers In Genesis who also complained that Tyson showed life arose from simple organic compounds without mentioning that some believe that’s not possible. “I was struck in the first episode where he talked about science and how, you know, all ideas are discussed, you know, everything is up for discussion – it’s all on the table – and I thought to myself, ‘No, consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem." To be fair, there aren't a ton of shows on TV specifically about creationism says William Hamby. "However, there are entire networks devoted to Christianity, and legions of preachers with all the airtime they need to denounce evolution. Oh, and there was that major movie from a few years back. And there's a giant tax-payer subsidized theme park in Kentucky. And the movie about Noah. And entire catalogs of creationist movies and textbooks you can own for the low low price of $13.92."