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Submission + - Ruskie's Rocket Fails to Dock (

mistiry writes: The Russian cargo rocket 'Progress' failed to dock with the International Space Station after an electronics failure.

From the site:
"The first docking attempt had been due to happen at 1658 GMT. The telemetry failure happened about 28 minutes before.

After the problem arose, the Progress was forced to make a "pass" of the space station. It did so at a safe distance of 3km and the gap between them is currently widening, Nasa said."

Submission + - Sea Turtles Will No Longer Be Burned Alive by BP (

An anonymous reader writes: Good news: the Gulf's endangered sea turtles will no longer be burned alive. Environmental groups sued BP and the Coast Guard over their "controlled burns" that were incinerating not just oil slicks, but also sea turtles that got caught between containment booms. Today they reached a settlement dictating that all boats involved in the burn operations must have a wildlife expert on board to spot the turtles and to get them out of harm's way. So that's a good thing. Turtles, I'm so sorry it has come to this.

Submission + - Google News submissions to slashdot vanishing 1

An anonymous reader writes: I've been watching the recent section for a while and I've noticed at least 3 Google News redesign gaffe article submissions appear and then mysteriously vanish... Has Slashdot already got it's 'Google News Design Gaffe' story or is there something more sinister at work?

Submission + - Microsoft cleanup utility is no more ( 3

dczyz writes: With the demise of Microsoft's installation cleanup utility, what open source alternatives are available?

For those who do technical support / QA work on Windows applications, the MS installer cleanup utility was a valuable tool to help resolve issues with application installation problems. Microsoft has removed the utility — so I was wondering if folks have any recommendation for a open source alternative? Freeware is also an option – if it can be used in a commercial enterprise.


Submission + - Nmap cripples a whole corporate network (

rfelsburg writes: An nmap scan with certain parameters is apparently sufficient to temporarily cripple a whole corporate network. On the Full Disclosure mailing list, a network admin reported that he used the following command to establish the SNMP versions of his routers and servers:

nmap -sU -sV -p 161-162 -iL target_file.txt

where target_file.txt contained his systems' IP addresses. However, the scan caused most of his network devices to crash and reboot, including several Cisco routers. There were very varied responses to his question on the list whether this problem was caused by a DoS vulnerability within the devices or by a flawed configuration.

Comment Biggest reason for few attacks in the USA (Score 2, Interesting) 280

They're busy killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Queada has _exploded_ in political and "terrorist" operations there, it's become part of daily politics. It's also far more effective for their immediate goals of political control, fairly effectively counteracting the military might of the wealthiest nation on Earth.

After all, it worked against the British Empire and later the Soviet Union as invaders of Afghanistan.

Comment Re:LOL (Score 2, Interesting) 280

Exactly. Maybe "safer" isn't the right word to use but it's very close. No major incident since 9/11. Everyone is more aware. Military strikes are taking the fight elsewhere. You can't really disagree with it. I'm in the military and have been to Afghanistan and Iraq several times and I'm going again soon... there's no way you can tell us we aren't helping to keep us safer. And to explain the recent failures in the system... as all programmers know, you can't prevent every exploit since there will always be some kind of bug in complicated code. You just have to learn and adapt. (though there is a lot of "oh well I'll get paid no matter if this works really good or just bare minimum" attitude in the govt)

Comment Better allow for transferring/lending of games (Score 1) 249

This system had better allow for the borrowing and lending of games, and the transfer of games to updated hardware iterations. Imagine if you'd have to re-purchase your games for the Fat DS > DS Lite move. You already can't play the games you purchased using your DSi on your DSi XL.

I've got all my old games and systems since the NES days. I like to know that if my system breaks down, all I have to do is buy a new system (or one off eBay if I can't find a new one) and I can still play all of my games. If they're tied to some network service where you have to sign in to authorize, or if they're tied with DRM to the physical hardware unit, then I may not be able to enjoy what I had payed for and kept.

Comment Actually no. That's completely wrong. (Score 1) 114

> The implications of this competition are techniques for greatly increasing the replayability of games,
> since each gameplay session could present new levels to the player."

    Utterly incorrect. People have this conceptual idea that gameplay is about merely providing a framework in which people exercise their skills. It's utterly wrong and I'll demonstrate why.

    Back in the 80's, there was an air-combat game. Think it might've been F15-Strike Eagle... which included the concept of random missions in which you were sent out to hit one random air target and one random ground target for each mission.

    It was the most boring thing I've ever seen. One random target is the same as another. And it very quickly becomes a case of "Why bother?". There's no progression, no reward. It's just a way of playing the same thing over and over again.

    In the ensuing years, I've viewed a lot of games. And the one truism I've always found is that the length of the game and the amount of enjoyment I get out of it is directly related to the amount of information content the developers put into the game.

    This is why the various Sim games bored me rigid. They have no information content. They provide a sandbox, a set of rules and let you go. To a certain extent Civilisation suffers the same problem, although the campaigns mitigate this to a degree. That's all very well if you want to play around but most of the games I enjoy playing most contain unique scenarios and ideas put forward by the developers which contribute to the information content inherent in the game.

    Think of information content as the number of decisions and sets of consequences which the developers have explicitly coded for. For example, take a game like Uncharted 2. Say you have the possibility of collapsing a bridge as a gameplay goal. The game plays out with you either having collapsed the bridge or not. In the context of the story it could potentially shift between two opposite extremes, but in either case, the developers have explictly developed further decisions and consequences.

    Now I know that branching pathways have a finite limit, because the development effort is effectively the sum of all the branching pathways that decisions allow. But I'd argue that a finite set of pathways is vastly preferably to a bunch of decisions which have a totally arbitrary effect on the outcome.

    For example, in Civilisation, the exact placement of your home city has many potential possibilities, but to a large degree there's very few differences between them. Oh, the placement relative to resources and the coast is relevant, but on the whole it's a reaction to the randomness of the game. As such, it's exercising a skill, not giving you an opportunity to make meaningful decisions.

    I've played CIV and enjoyed it, but I can't play it more than once every six months or so. It's just not interesting to me to repeat the same fundamental operations over and over again. I prefer Fallout 3 or Dragon Age. Dragon Age has extraordinarily high information content which is why it provides entertainment for so long. Fallout 3 actually has low information content relative to Dragon Age. Random encounters aside, there's just not that much to do beyond exploring or following the main narrative. And that narrative is not long. You'll find that most of your time in Fallout 3 is spent digging through minutiae in various locations, not exploring the game itself.

    So the idea that you'll get extra replayability out of random generation of levels is completely false. You'll get a random experience which has no information content behind it. It'll be valueless except as a reaction test.

Comment And now for an irreverent follow-up (Score 3, Interesting) 151

At the risk of being modded down (and the certain doom of being mocked), I feel compelled to follow up on this and feed the troll. I went the UoP route, and found out that many (perhaps most) of their online degree programs were little more than diploma mills at the time. And at that point I entered a rather profound depression because I realized I'd been a fool and had probably wasted tens of thousands of dollars (yes, smart people do get suckered too).

However, it wasn't until later that I discovered that I might have actually lucked out. I got my Masters in Education - Curriculum & Instruction, which actually happens to be a very strong program in its own right, because of the sheer number of professional educators who take the UoP's Education grad-level courses, and teach them. All but two of my professors were educators, education professionals, or senior education management (the two that weren't - well, I considered asking for their photos to print out on my toilet paper so I could wipe my ass with their face - they were THAT bad). Not only that, but I learned a hell of a lot about education - the philosophy, the psychology, the pedagogy, and about how school districts operate when it comes to curriculum and teaching. And I was able to take all that information and apply it to my corporate world quite successfully. Which shocked the hell out of me because I initially thought my degree was worthless.

If I must be flamed for saying I have a MAED from University of Phoenix, then flame me. I was taken in, as were many other people. But, surprisingly, I emerged with an actual graduate-level education in Education that was worth the hassle (which impressed my wife, who's a teacher herself), and has proved itself. I don't know now if UoP cleaned up their act. I suspect they have as they haven't lost their accreditation, the DoL hasn't found any new complaints, and now everyone and their uncle is getting in on the online education program.

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"