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Comment: Bigger pixels. (Score 1) 175

by MaWeiTao (#49684679) Attached to: The Decline of Pixel Art

A lot of people seem to be missing the point here. Pixel art is a visual style; just like cel shading, voxel graphics or realistic 3D common to most FPSs. That this particular aesthetic was borne out of technical limitations is irrelevant. All art styles had their foundation in something, some of those being technological advancements in ceramics, pigments or metallurgy.

Of course, certain art styles are more popular than others. If you're looking at this from the perspective of a commercial enterprise it might make sense to favor another aesthetic over pixel art. That, however, does not mean pixel art isn't a legitimate style.

I read the article and thought Blake Reynolds made some compelling arguments. However, I think he's also missing the point. I took a look at the game, Auro, that spawned this discussion and I wasn't really impressed. I don't think what we have here is a failing of pixel art but rather some poor aesthetic decisions.

The style doesn't work with the type of game that it is. More critically, he went for a pseudo HD pixel style. As he himself states, he wasn't going for a retro look, although it does hark back to mid 90s sprite-based PC games. But this is a style suited to larger displays, not the mobile screens for which it's been built. At that size those graphics just end up looking slightly off. And while the individual graphics look great, crammed together in the game the whole thing feels just a bit off.

Early in my design career I was taught one important rule: when you design something make sure it looks intentional. Go too subtle and you risk it looking like a mistake. That's what happened with Auro.

He might have actually had a better response if he had gone with the larger pixels of so many other games out there. In any case, he deserves credit for trying to be different.

Comment: Re:An Odd Bird (Score 5, Interesting) 110

by MaWeiTao (#49470723) Attached to: First 26 Pages of Neal Stephenson's New Novel "Seveneves" Online

Authors improve with age? In my experience that's not true at all. There seems to be a range during which authors are at their optimum and even if the actual age range varies from person to person. The consistency is how the decline manifests itself.

Too many authors shift from storytelling to exposition in their later years. Instead of describing a compelling narrative into which thought provoking concepts are intertwined they get totally fixated on those themes. So you get a book full of exposition in which virtually nothing happens until the very end; it's a book full of people talking instead of doing. It seems exacerbated by sticking to the same universe but I've seen it happen with unrelated novels by the same author.

I always bring up Frank Herbert and the Dune series as a case study for this phenomenon. It's not that there aren't facets of the later books that aren't interesting, but as a novel those later novels are not as engaging as the first, even when they had the potential to be so much more. And it seems that first novel is usually the best.

Comment: Re:Doesn't matter (Score 5, Informative) 130

by MaWeiTao (#49306581) Attached to: ISPs Worry About FCC's 'Future Conduct' Policing

I didn't realize Obama was a Republican. You do know that he attended private raisers held by Comcast executives, don't you? He's golfed with the CEO of Comcast. Oh yeah, and the current FCC chairman, nominated by Obama, has close ties to the telecom industry and has long been a lobbyist for companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. In 2012 Comcast employes donated roughly 4x more to Democrats than Republicans.

But sure, keep believing all the bullshit you're fed; it will just make it that much easier for Democrats, and Republicans along with them, to screw you over.

Comment: Re:Face it America ... (Score 3, Insightful) 131

by MaWeiTao (#49080567) Attached to: US May Sell Armed Drones

I'm curious to know who this collective "we" is that you're talking about. There is a lot that the United States does that is cause for concern, but there's also plenty the US does to help. You give me the impression that either you're either ignorant about everything that happens around the world or you're very selective about where you get your news.

As for the US military, for a whole host of reasons the US is endlessly doing Europe's dirty work. They sure are averse to getting involved, even when something's happening in their own backyard or their own meddling was the source of those problems. And in the end, while Europe enjoys the luxury of keeping its hands clean they have no shame in getting on their high horse about American involvement around the world.

Of course, the US could always take the Chinese approach of superficially not getting involved in anything, but supporting oppressive regimes so that they can strip nations of their resources. Take a look at what they're doing in Africa.

Comment: Re:should five per cent appear to small (Score 1) 164

I have family in Portugal, France, England and a couple of other countries. I've never heard a single one of them say they like the tax rates. I do hear plenty of complaints about how high taxes are but social programs constantly getting scaled back. In fact, a couple of my uncles in France have had to get private health insurance, oh ironic, to compensate for what the government has cut. France just hit record unemployment again, something my cousins have felt for a while. Don't even dare ask about stuff like bank bailouts and immigration.

Maybe it's different in some northern European countries, but I hear plenty of complaints from that part of Europe too. It seems like the only people who think things are good in Europe are the wealthy or Americans who irrationally think Europe is some kind of wonderland utopia.

Comment: Neverending hyperbole... (Score 2) 328

by MaWeiTao (#48697005) Attached to: Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes

I suspect too much is being read in to these numbers. For the most part updates to tablets have been incremental over the past several years. Other than a fixation in owning the latest and greatest, there's no real reason to upgrade. PC updates have stalled a lot earlier than that for the very same reason. It's not that there aren't tangible performance gains, but for what most people do the difference is negligible.

The mistake that so-called experts have made is to assume that the purchase of gadgets is some sort of zero sum game. When PC sales stalled they assumed that it was because of some sort of technological paradigm shift. The fact is that most PCs were still perfectly serviceable. So when it came time to spend on something they gravitated towards tablets. Of course, the economy was another big factor which was largely overlooked. Although, admittedly, that doesn't seem to stop many consumers from careless spending.

So now we're at a point where tablets have largely saturated the market and people have been using them long enough to know where their utility lies. This likely means growth is going to permanently remain modest for both PCs and tablets.

Comment: Re:Cheaper (Score 1) 349

by MaWeiTao (#48696769) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

I guess you don't know much about business then. Yes, there are business travelers who have predictable schedules, but those are guys rare. In my experience flights are often booked only a couple of weeks before the trip, and that's if you're lucky. You might be aware that a particular project will require travel, but the exact timing of a meeting is often unknown up until the last moment.

Comment: Like it or not, this was flamebait. (Score 0) 681

by MaWeiTao (#48689663) Attached to: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

I like Neil Degrasse Tyson but his goal was obvious from the first tweet; he comes off like he had a chip on his shoulder and was looking to get a rise out of people. He posts a tweet that amounts to flamebait and then defaults to the usual tactic of criticizing those he sought to offend. In contrast to what he claims in a later tweet, people are offended by the obnoxiousness of his tweets, not the mundane nature of their truths.

Guess what? The world is comprised of a diversity of ideas and beliefs and many of those probably won't fit your particular worldview. This is the kind of nonsense you'd expect from a petulant teenager lashing out at the world.

That said, he's entirely free to say whatever he wants. He just has to accept the fact that the rest of the world is also free to criticize him.

Comment: Some perspective. (Score 1) 528

by MaWeiTao (#48530599) Attached to: The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Wasn't Lockheed hacked a couple of years back? My understanding is that quite a good amount of data regarding a variety of weapons systems, including data on the F-35, was stolen. I don't know how the volume of data stolen compares, but it seems to me like a far more significant hack than stealing a bunch of shitty film scripts and some employee data.

Comment: Re:I bet Infosys and Tata are dancing in the stree (Score 1) 186

I'm curious to know what countries you're talking about considering that the United States has some of the least restrictive immigration policies on Earth. Furthermore, east Asian nations (Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) would contradict your claims as they've got highly restrictive policies and enjoy extremely low unemployment. Hell, it was less than 15 years ago that Taiwan even allowed foreigners to sign up with a mobile phone plan under their own name. Japan, with a long stagnant economy, is at 3.8% unemployment, Taiwan is at 4% and South Korea is at about 3%.

There are significant benefits to immigration, but those are felt in the long term. Immigrants offer a diversity of ideas and talent for the host country. That, however, doesn't mean that every random individual who tries to enter this country deserves to be here.

Comment: Re:Real investments come with guidance (Score 1) 473

by MaWeiTao (#48412953) Attached to: Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

In fact, investors typically have a hand in critical decisions like these. When that company decides they need to change their business model or alter some fundamental aspect of their core product they have to get buy in from the board. They make a case for what they want but it's up to the board to give the go ahead.

Now, you could argue that thousands of Kickstarter backers don't equate to a board of investors comprising maybe 8 guys. But en masse it's essentially the same thing. If the argument is that Kickstarter backers aren't investors then the acknowledgement is that Kickstarter is basically a glorified pre-order.

I suppose people should know better by now. But changing things up this late in the game does feel very much like bait-and-switch.

Comment: Skeptical. (Score 1) 706

by MaWeiTao (#48351963) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

Given that Comcast's CEO has golfed with President Obama, he's attended private fund raisers held by other Comcast executives and they, along with Time Warner, have donated heavily to Democrats I find this all very interesting. Is he pandering to certain constituencies by taking on something he knows for a fact is a losing battle? Or are broadband as a utility something ISPs actually want?

Superficially it sounds good, but you don't have to look very far to see that it's fraught with risks. I can't say my experiences with utilities is a positive one. They hold a legal monopoly even more entrenched than what Optimum or AT&T enjoy in my area. Ignoring weird resellers a single company supplies electricity in my area. The same goes for natural gas, and in their case there are no resellers.

Those utilities have to get approval from the state in order to raise rates, but I've yet to see a rate hike get rejected. Even if they have to negotiate a smaller increase, they still get something which translates to a few extra dollars on my monthly bill. If I'm not happy with that increase my only choice is to use less electricity or move out of state.

I wonder if like electricity, where we suffer some of the highest rates in the country, if broadband would be comparatively expensive. Also, how would we be billed, by the MB like we pay now for kWh? I can't imagine that being cheaper or better that what we've got now.

But hey, I could be wrong. It's difficult to trust anything the government proposes nowadays when there are always monied interests involved.

Comment: Looks promising. (Score 1) 135

by MaWeiTao (#48280801) Attached to: Microsoft Enters the Wearables Market With 'Band'

I can always rely on Slashdot to crap on anything Microsoft does, even when it's actually a good product. Not that it's unique to this site, but at least others have the decency to just not bother mentioning it at all. Early reports already indicate that the Band is a hit; it's sold out online and apparently people have seen lines in the stores. That one is a first as every Microsoft store I've ever seen has been a ghost town.

Anyway, as a fitness band Microsoft's implementation seems to get the essentials right. It's packed full of features, works with all mobile platforms, and everything seems integrated quite nicely. That's a far cry from anything else currently on the market. It looks like it's obsoleted the more expensive FitBit Surge before it even hits the market.

I guess we'll see how it stacks up against the Apple Watch and Android's various smartwatches. They definitely offer a lot more utility, but they're also more expensive and relatively bulky. At this point I also think they suffer from being a solution in search of a problem. The utility of a fitness band is a bit more clearly defined.

I think the question here will be how much of a niche Microsoft manages to carve for itself. I expect the Apple Watch will be a big success no matter what, if for no other reason than because it's Apple and they're playing up the luxury angle. You can't really underestimate how irrational consumers get with luxury products. On the other hand, I don't really see people wearing those watches while exercising and that's where Microsoft could make inroads.

"A car is just a big purse on wheels." -- Johanna Reynolds

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