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IBM

IBM Finding Business Uses for Virtual World 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-we-get-virtual-tps-reports dept.
jbrodkin writes "IBM has an unconventional take on virtual worlds for business use. Rather than strictly adhering to the laws of physics, IBM is letting its employees hold virtual meetings up in the air and under water. Employees are also being given wacky chores, such as kicking a giant boulder 1,400 kilometers. The virtual world, known as the Metaverse, has been in development for two years. Michael Ackerbauer of IBM says, 'I'd say more people are still finding it a novelty than a business tool. But ... if you build enough tools that they can use, they will come.'" IBM seems to be following a trend of involvement in virtual worlds, which we have previously discussed.
Robotics

Personal Robots From Valley Startup 87

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-believe-it-when-it's-cooking-me-dinner dept.
Tjeerd writes ""A Silicon Valley start-up is developing a hardware and software development platform for personal-assistant robots, autonomous boats and unmanned cars. The privately funded company, quietly started almost a year ago by eGroups founder and veteran Google architect Scott Hassan, plans to make its robotics software open source. That way, it hopes to draw a community of developers to build applications in these respective fields.""
Supercomputing

Eight PS3 'Supercomputer' Ponders Gravity Waves 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
Jamie found a story about a inexpensive supercomputer being used by an astrophysicist to research gravity waves. The interesting bit is that the system is built using 8 PS3s. Since nobody is actually playing games on the system, it makes sense to use them for research projects like this, but I really wonder now what is defining 'Supercomputer'... I mean, a hundred PS3s sure, but 8? I think we are de-valuing the meaning of the word 'super' :)
Space

"All Quiet Alert" Issued For the Sun 463

Posted by kdawson
from the that-would-fix-global-warming dept.
radioweather writes "The phrase sounds like an oxymoron, and maybe it is, but the sun is extremely quiet right now, so much in fact that the Solar Influences Data Center in Belgium issued an unusual 'All quiet alert' on October 5th. Since then the sunspot number has remained at zero — solar cycle 24 has not yet started. There are signs that the sun's activity is slowing. The solar wind has been decreasing in speed, and this is yet another indicator of a slowing in the sun's magnetic dynamo. There is talk of an extended solar minimum occurring. There are a number of theories and a couple of dozen predictions about the intensity solar cycle 24 which has yet to start. One paper by Penn & Livingstonin in 2006 concludes: 'If [trends] continue to decrease at the current rate then the number of sunspots in the next solar cycle (cycle 24) would be reduced by roughly half, and there would be very few sunspots visible on the disk during cycle 25.' We'll know more in about six months what the sun decides to do for cycle 24."
Books

+ - Book Review - OpenGL Programming Guide (6th Ed) 1

Submitted by
Martin Ecker
Martin Ecker writes "The Red Book, also known as the OpenGL Programming Guide published by Addison-Wesley Professional, returns in its meanwhile sixth edition with additions covering OpenGL 2.1. The Red Book, so called because of its nice, red cover, is probably the most-well known, standard introduction to the OpenGL graphics API. Let me take you on a tour through the pages of this book to see what it has to offer.

Just as the previous, fifth edition of the book, the sixth edition is incredibly complete and thorough. It contains explanations of pretty much every feature of OpenGL, even the rarely used ones. You want to know about the fairly new occlusion query support of OpenGL? It's in this book. You want to know about the accumulation buffer and its uses? It's in this book. You want to know about the (mostly deprecated) use of indexed color buffers? It's in this book. The sixth edition also covers vertex and fragment shaders and recent additions to the GLSL, the OpenGL Shading Language, such as the preprocessor. Even though the coverage was expanded, the authoritative guide to shader programming in OpenGL still remains the Orange Book aka The OpenGL Shading Language (see my previous Slashdot review http://books.slashdot.org/books/04/07/15/162242.sh tml).

The Red Book is aimed at the beginning to intermediate graphics programmer that is not yet familiar with OpenGL. It assumes a basic background in computer graphics theory and working knowledge of the C programming language. The book consists of 15 chapters and 9 appendices that together span approximately 860 pages.

The first chapter gives a brief introduction to the basic concepts of OpenGL and describes the rendering pipeline model used in the API. GLUT, a cross-platform library that allows easily creating OpenGL applications, is also shortly discussed together with a program that shows GLUT in action. The following chapters proceed to explain the basic geometric primitives, such as lines and polygons, supported by OpenGL and how to render them in different positions and from different viewpoints using the various OpenGL matrix stacks. Also the basics of using colors, fixed-function lighting, framebuffer blending, and fog are discussed.

Chapter seven contains a description of display lists, a unique feature of OpenGL that allows to store OpenGL API calls for efficient multiple uses later on in a program. Chapter eight then moves on to discuss what an image is for OpenGL. Most notably this chapter now covers pixel buffer objects, a fairly recent addition to OpenGL, which the fifth edition of the book did not mention. The discussion of images in chapter eight bring us straight to chapter nine on texture mapping, one of the largest chapters in the book. This chapter discusses everything you need to know about textures, from specifying texture images in uncompressed and compressed form to applying textures to triangles using the various kinds of supported texture filters. Also depth textures and their application in the form of shadow maps and — new in the sixth edition — sRGB format textures added in OpenGL 2.1 are presented.

In chapter ten the authors discuss the buffers that make up the framebuffer, such as the color buffer, depth buffer, and stencil buffer. This chapter summarizes some of the things already presented in the earlier chapters and then describes the various framebuffer operations in more detail. Also the accumulation buffer and its uses, such as motion blur and depth of field effects, are discussed. Chapter eleven and twelve are on the tools provided by GLU, the GL utility library, in particular tesselators, quadrics, evaluators, and NURBs. GLU is nowadays rarely ever used in production code, so these chapters mostly demonstrate just how complete the Red Book is in its coverage of OpenGL. This also applies to chapter thirteen on selection and feedback, which are rarely used features, mostly because of the lack of hardware acceleration in today's GPUs (Graphics Processing Units).

Finally, chapter fourteen is a collection of topics that didn't fit into the other chapters, such as error handling and the OpenGL extension mechanism. Additionally, this chapter presents various higher level techniques and tricks, for example how to implement a simple fade effect, how to render antialiased text, and some examples of using the stencil buffer. The final chapter of the book is a discussion of the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL, for short). In the sixth edition this chapter has been updated to version 1.20 of GLSL as required by OpenGL 2.1. Even though the OpenGL API functions required to use GLSL are presented, this is only a rough overview of how programmable shaders are used in OpenGL. For a more detailed description of GLSL the reader is referred to the Orange Book.

The book closes with quite a few appendices on the order of operations in the OpenGL rendering pipeline, the state variables that can be queried, the interaction of OpenGL with the operating system-specific windowing systems, a brief discussion of homogeneous coordinates as used in OpenGL, and some programming tips. Also a reference of the built-in GLSL variables and functions is included.

The book contains a large number of images and diagrams, all of them in black and white except for 32 color plates in the middle of the book. The illustrations are of high quality and generally help make the explained concepts and techniques easier to understand. Most of the color plates depict spheres, teapots, and other simple geometric objects, so they aren't overly eye-catching but do serve their purpose of showing what can be achieved with OpenGL.

All in all, the Red Book remains the definitive guide to OpenGL. Apart from being a good introduction, it also contains many interesting tips and tricks that make the experienced OpenGL programmer come back to it often. If you've read through the Red Book and the Orange Book in their entirety you pretty much know everything there is to know about OpenGL.

About the review author:
The author has been involved in real-time graphics programming for more than 10 years and works as a professional game developer for High Moon Studios http://www.highmoonstudios.com/ in sunny California."
Space

+ - Strange things happening to the rings of Uranus->

Submitted by
dwayner79
dwayner79 writes "Middle Schoolers are loving it, but as the article says, "Strange things are happening to the rings of Uranus, that little blue planet way out there in the solar system.It has rings and moons, and once every 42 years, the planet's tilted angle lets earthbound observers briefly catch three edge-on views of the rings instead of the usual direct view that makes them appear as if they were sunlit paintings on the flat rim of a dinner plate. The time for the rare views is right now, and a team of astronomers from UC Berkeley and the SETI Institute in Mountain View has seen some dramatic changes — some rings are growing brighter, at least one is fading away, and another is either new-formed or unexpectedly moving outward from the planet by thousands of miles.""
Link to Original Source
Programming

+ - Poll: What age did you start programming for fun

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "Poll: What age did you first start programming for fun (outside of school work)?

Younger than 10
11-12
13-14
15-16
17-18
Older than 18
Never
I forget when CowboyNeal first started touch-^^TUTORING me."

Comment: Re:I wonder how this will affect Sony (Score 1) 138

by J-Doggqx (#20094353) Attached to: GTA IV Delayed Into Next Year
"I'm talking Buy the system, Pre-order the game, Million Seller right away kind of games"

Was that ever GTA4? Granted it was certainly the case for GTA3 for the PS2, but that was an exclusive release (originally) while GTA4 is going with a multi platform release. Maybe it would move some PS3s, but I think the 360 version will sell more copies of the game due to the larger install base, lower console price, and upcoming additional exclusive content. If anything this would have helped Microsoft sell consoles this Christmas more than it would have helped Sony.

Businesses

+ - Dell begins their largest layoff ever. 3

Submitted by cyphercell
cyphercell (843398) writes "Dell has begun their largest series of layoffs ever. This morning at about 10:00am more than two hundred employees at Dell's Roseburg Oregon Call center found out that they no longer had jobs. Sparking what appears to be the beginning of year long run of layoffs for the company. http://www.newsreview.info/article/20070802/NEWS/7 0802014

Refuting local suspicions of malice Dell spokesman David Frink states:

... the closure has nothing to do with a lawsuit filed by employees of the Roseburg center in February, claiming Dell violated federal and state wage and hour laws.
http://www.newsreview.info/article/20070213/NEWS/7 0213020

and later says

...plans to reduce employment worldwide by 10 percent at the end of May.


Their plans to reduce employment can be found here:
http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business /stories/technology/06/01/1dell.html

Here are some highlights:

Dell set to shed 8,800 workers...

Dell has 82,200 permanent workers, including 18,000 in Central Texas, and 5,300 temporary workers worldwide. The layoffs are expected to affect both groups...

In its last large-scale layoffs, Dell cut more than 5,000 jobs in Austin after the high-tech bust in 2001.

...many of the layoffs could come in Central Texas, where Dell is headquartered. In a March 29 report to clients, Goldman Sachs analysts said Dell might reduce the work force at its test and assembly facilities in the U.S. and Malaysia.
"
Security

+ - Should We Rebuild America with Minneapolis Bridge?-> 2

Submitted by mattnyc99
mattnyc99 (1008511) writes "The tragic collapse last night in Minneapolis of a truss bridge—one that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation found "structurally deficient" two years ago—raises an important issue beyond just the engineering of one single span. As national security expert Stephen Flynn pleads in an op-ed on American infrastructure in the wake of yesterday's disaster, "The blind eye that taxpayers and our elected officials have been turning to the imperative of maintaining and upgrading the critical foundations that underpin our lives is irrational and reckless." Do we need to start spending to rebuild America?"
Link to Original Source
Microsoft

Microsoft Moves To Change NY State Election Law 222

Posted by kdawson
from the taking-a-page-from-the-telcos dept.
myspace-cn sends us to Bo Lipari's blog where it is revealed that Microsoft has moved forcefully into New York State with proposed changes to NY state election law drafted by Microsoft attorneys. A document has been circulating (PDF) among the legislators for a while now. The proposed changes would gut the source-code escrow and review provisions in current law that were hard-fought-for and passed in New York in 2005. Microsoft is siding with the makers of voting machines that run on Windows — the company doesn't want its code inspected by outsiders. From the article: "Now the software giant has gone a step further, not just saying 'we won't comply with your law' but actively trying to change state law to serve their corporate interests... Adding insult to injury, these changes are being slipped into a bill that may be voted on Monday or Tuesday, June 18 or 19."
Bug

Apple Safari On Windows Broken On First Day 595

Posted by kdawson
from the bigger-they-come dept.
An anonymous reader writes "David Maynor, infamous for the Apple Wi-Fi hack, has discovered bugs in the Windows version of Safari mere hours after it was released. He notes in the blog that his company does not report vulnerabilities to Apple. His claimed catch for 'an afternoon of idle futzing': 4 DoS bugs and 2 remote execution vulnerabilities." Separately, within 2 hours Thor Larholm found a URL protocol handler command injection vulnerability that allows remote command execution.
Movies

Uwe Boll Has Three Picture Distribution Deal 63

Posted by Zonk
from the for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy-make-the-burning-stop dept.
1up is reporting that famed, beloved film-maker Uwe Boll has landed a three-picture deal with a company called FreeStyle. They're going to be releasing three Boll-helmed films to theatres across the country. The three films are Postal, Dungeon Siege, and an original work by the director called Seed. "The high-profile cast of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale -- Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Ron Perlman, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Matthew Lillard and Burt Reynolds -- means Freestyle's putting their muscle behind the fantasy epic. Opening January 18, 2008, the film's scheduled to appear in at least 2,500 screens -- a nice score for Boll, considering BloodRayne's distribution problems."
Microsoft

Microsoft Hires Director of Linux Interoperability 238

Posted by kdawson
from the over-to-the-dark-side dept.
AlexGr sends us to Todd Bishop's blog in the Seattle PI for news that Microsoft has brought someone aboard to serve as its Director of Linux Interoperability and head up the Microsoft/Novell Interoperability Lab. "...his name will be familiar to people in the open-source community. In an e-mail late Thursday night, a Microsoft representative said the role will be filled by Tom Hanrahan, who was most recently the director of engineering at the Linux Foundation, the group created through the recent combination of the Free Standards Group and the Open Source Development Labs."

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux

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