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Comment: ICYMI: Frontline's Secret State of North Korea (Score 5, Informative) 57

by eldavojohn (#49171137) Attached to: Inside the North Korean Data Smuggling Movement
This exact same topic was covered in Frontline's special on North Korea over a year ago. Their point of contact was Jiro Ishimaru of Asiapress who was sneaker netting USBs over the border. They even took a video of people trying to watch on a tiny screen and having to shut everything down whenever they heard someone outside.

The documentary also touched on humanitarian issues as much as it could using a secret camera. Sad stuff. Great thing to watch. Occasionally you can catch it streaming on Netflix but it seems to not be available right now.

Comment: Burst Forth, Publish Your Policy Report! (Score 5, Insightful) 213

If you look at this list, the majority of these problems are man-made. Other than a super volcano and an asteroid impact, the solution seems pretty simple. We must abandon all technology and kill all but a small percentage of the population. And those that are left must live in isolated groups. That way there will not be a world wide disease outbreak.

Yep, that's the only option. There's nothing between doing nothing and that option. It's all we have. And if anyone starts to talk about mitigation strategies, planning ahead of time or devoting a single cent of taxpayer money toward preparing for it, we are just all going to have a meltdown and throw a tantrum with teabags on our hats. Thank god we have these strawman arguments for what these ivory tower Oxford elitists are telling us to do: eliminate the human race to protect the human race. I cannot believe they would actually come to that conclusion but there it is, right in the article. Those environmentalists will have us starving in mud huts by the end of the month if we just sit by and let this academic report go unabated and without criticism!

*tortured sigh*

+ - Something Resembling "The Wheel of Time" Aired Last Night on FXX->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "If you didn't partake in the DDOS attack on Dragonmount as fans tried to figure out just what the %&#% was going on last night, you should probably prepare yourself for Billy Zane filled disappointment and watch a curious pilot covering the prologue of "Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan that apparently aired around 01:30 AM Eastern time on FXX. The reviews of said pilot are unkind and appear to contain question marks all the way down starting with Jordan's Widow disavowing its authorization. The world of film and TV development is a confusing one but it appears that NBC initially bought options to turn it into a mini series which were then optioned by Universal/Red Eagle Entertainment in conjunction with Red Eagle Games to do a coordinated release. Red Eagle games announced a combined effort with Jet Set games and around 2012 began releasing information on an "Aiel War" project to target mobile gaming platforms. But that appeared to die with its failed kickstarter attempt. It is suspected that Red Eagle Entertainment is behind the odd FXX airing last night. Was this an eleventh hour "use it or lose it" move by Red Eagle Entertainment without Universal's knowledge? In any case, it was a secretive, odd, low-budget, disappointing start to The Wheel of Time in film."
Link to Original Source

+ - Book Review: Core HTML5 2D Game Programming->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "Core HTML5 2D Game Programming details a journey through creating Snail Bait in well defined steps. This simple two dimensional platform game works as a great starting point for anyone interested in making their very first game targeting many desktop and mobile platforms. This incremental process is expertly segmented into logical lessons with the only prerequisite being fluency in JavaScript. One of the most attractive aspects of this book is that the core concepts of this book don’t rely on some flavor of the week JavaScript library or framework.

author David Geary
pages 615 pages
publisher Prentice Hall
rating 9/10
reviewer eldavojohn
ISBN 9780133564242
summary An exercise in 2D game development and mechanics in HTML5 and JavaScript.

First, this book isn't for people who do not recognize HTML5 and JavaScript as a valid development platform for games. I know you’re out there, you can stop reading here and move on to the next article. This book isn't for you. If you have no programming experience this book is likely not for you either. This book dives into concepts faster than Geary’s last book on game development in Canvas. You should also be familiar with JavaScript if you want to effortlessly start on this book. Throughout the book, Geary utilizes object’s JavaScript prototypes to add functions, uses anonymous functions and refers to common programming patterns.

It is worth repeating that the implementation in this book does not rely on a framework or library that could change or go defunct. The game runs entirely on code covered in the book accessing W3C standard specifications like requestAnimationFrame(). As long as JavaScript interpreters don’t change core things like timing control, this book should be relevant to developers for years to come.

The reason this book gets a nine is it accomplishes everything it sets out to do and Geary does a great job dividing up task after incremental task of setting sprite sheets and backgrounds into motion. The reason it doesn't get a ten is that I was personally disappointed with the the author devoting little time to physics and their simulations.

The book is laid out to enable its use as two kinds of resources: cover to cover and chapter specific topics. Reading this straight through, there were only a few times where it felt like I was needlessly being reminded of where I had already read about tangential topics. On the plus side if you ever want to see how Snail Bait implemented something like sound, you need only spend time on the chapter devoted to sound sprites. One mild annoyance I had with the text was that the author seems to always refer to Snail Bait as “Snail Bait” which leads to a Ralph Wiggum-like aversion to pronouns or saying “the game” instead occasionally. It might only be me but it can become tiresome to read “Snail Bait” five or six times on the same page.

You can read a sample chapter here that shows how to implement sprite behaviors.

The first two chapters of the book focus on a set of basic guidelines to follow when doing game development in HTML5 and JavaScript — like keeping certain UI display elements in CSS instead of rendering them as paths or objects in the Canvas. Geary also covers the very absolute simplest concepts of how graphics are going to be displayed and how the background is going to move. He also spends time in Chapter Two showing how to best set up the development environment. It is demonstrated how shortening your cycle of deployment saves you tons of time and the author does a great job on letting you know what tools to use to debug throughout the whole text.

The third chapter delves into draw and rendering graphics in the canvas as well as introducing the reader to the game loop. It spends a good amount of time explaining the use of animation frame control in a browser to keep animations running smoothly. It also begins the auditing of frame rates so that the game can respond to and display things normalized at the rate the user is experiencing them. It also touches on how parallax can be employed to show things closer up moving faster than those further back in the background. This illusion of depth has long been popular and is even finding its way into scrolling on blogs and I wish that Geary would have spent more time on this perhaps in a later chapter but offer the reader more on how to do multiple levels of depth.

The next chapter tackles the core infrastructure of Snail Bait and discusses at length encapsulation of certain functionalities (instead of globals) in the source code as well as Snail Bait’s 2300 line prototype. It bothers me that one file is 2300 lines and I wish there was a better way to do this but as a learning tool, it works even if it is daunting to scroll through. The book adds some helpful pointers about how utterly confusing the “this” keyword can be in JavaScript. Chapter Four really sets the pace for the rest of the book by introducing the use of event listeners and illustrating how the game loop is going to continually be extrapolated.

The next three chapters cover the use of loading screens, sprites and their behaviors. Snail Bait uses all its graphics from an open source game (Replica Island). But if you were to design your own graphics for your game, these chapters do a great job of showing how to construct sprite sheets and how to use tools to construct metadata in the code so that the sprites are usable by the sprite artists. Using the flyweight pattern, Geary sets the stage for more complex behaviors and actions to come in the following chapters.

The next three chapters cover time, stopwatches and their effects on motions and behaviors within the game. The author starts and works from linear motion to non-linear motion and then using transducer functions to affect the time system. The game now has bouncing coins, a jumping player and Geary does a good job of showing the reader how to emulate behaviors in the code.

Naturally what follows next is collision detection and gravity. The collision detection strategies were adequate but I wish that there was more depth at least referenced in the text. This isn't a simple problem and I did like how Geary referenced back to chapter two’s profile and showed how collision detection performance as you implement and refine and optimize your algorithm. The nice thing about this book is that it often tackles problems with a general solution in the code (runner/sprite collision) and then provides the edge case solutions.

In the fourteenth chapter, the author tackles something that has long been a plague in HTML5 games: sound and music. The author doesn't sugarcoat this citing the long history of problems the vendors have had trying to support this in browsers. There’s a great explanation of how to create and handle “sound sprites” (similar to sprite sheets) so that there is only one download for background music and one download for audio sprites.

Next Geary covers the problem of multiple viewport sizes with a focus on mobile devices. Of course this is one of the biggest issues with mobile gaming today. The chapter is lengthy and deals with the many intricacies of scaling, sizing and touch events. This chapter is long but the highly detailed support of multiple platforms and resolutions is a justified discussion point.

In sixteen, the reader gets a treatment of utilizing sprites and their artists to simulate sparks and smoking holes. The book calls this chapter “particle systems” but I don’t think that’s a very good title as the code isn't actually dealing with things at the particle level. Instead this chapter focuses on using sprites to simulate those behaviors via animation. This is completely necessary on a computation inexpensive platform but it is misleading to call these particle systems.

Now that the game looks and functions appropriately, the book covers UI elements like player scores and player lives. The auditing of these metrics are covered in the code as well as warnings when the game begins to run to slowly. It also covers the ‘edge’ condition of winning in the game and the routine that is followed when the user wins the game.

The next chapter introduces the concept of a developer backdoor so that the reader can manually speed up or slow down the game while playing it or even test special cases of the runner sprite interacting with other elements. It’s a useful trick for debugging and playing around but does devote a lot of time to the specialized UI like the speed slider and other things that won’t (or rather shouldn't) be seen by a common player.

Chapter nineteen really felt out of place and very inadequate on important details. It’s a blind rush through using node.js and socket.io to implement server side high scores. The way it’s implemented would make it trivial for someone to submit a high score of MAX_INT or whatever to the server. The metrics reporting is done in a manner that (in my opinion) breaks from long established logging structure one would be familiar with. While it covers important things to record from your users in order to tweak your game, the inadequacy of discussions about shortcomings makes it feel out of place in this text. It's a topic of great depth and I have no problem with an author touching on something briefly in one chapter — this chapter does lack the warnings and caveats found in other chapters though.

Contrary to the previous chapter, the final chapter is a fast application of the entire book’s principles applied to a new game (Bodega’s Revenge). Geary gives a final run through showing how the lengthy prior discussions quickly translate to a new set of sprite sheets and game rules. If this book is ever expanded, I think it would be great to include additional chapters like this although I would pick a more distinct and popular two dimensional game format like a tower defense game or a bejeweled knockoff.

Overall, Core HTML5 2D Game Programming is a great book for a JavaScript developer looking to dabble in game development. You can purchase Core HTML5 2D Game Programming from barnesandnoble.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews (sci-fi included) — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page. If you'd like to see what books we have available from our review library please let us know."

Link to Original Source

Comment: No. (Score 5, Insightful) 228

by eldavojohn (#48923389) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

To be fair to Zuckerberg and Facebook, the company must obey the law of any country in which it operates.

No. He came out in support of a universal maxim and then went back to his board who showed him X dollars of income they get by operating in Turkey. Just like the revenue lost when Google left mainland China. Instead of sacrificing that revenue to some other social network in Turkey run by cowards, he became a coward himself in the name of money. It is an affront to the deaths and memory of the Charlie Hebdo editors. His refusal could have worked as leverage for social change in Turkey but now it will not.

So no, your statement isn't fair to Zuckerberg and his company and the platinum backscratcher he gets to keep with "TURKEY" inscribed on it. Fuck that greedy bastard and his petty meaningless lip service.

+ - Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865 Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Rumor: Fox Is Planning an X-Files Revival (Score 1) 480

by eldavojohn (#48904215) Attached to: Best 1990s Sci-fi show?
In the news recently are rumors that Carter, Anderson and Duchovny will reunite for new X-Files episodes. Fox has sorta confirmed this.

I own all the DVDs, a couple years ago I rewatched them. I may come off as a rabid fan at times but the background music was atrociously horrid. Also the story arc plot became overly convoluted and impossible to explain at times. That said, one of the most convoluted characters (Krycek) was my favorite. Aside from several minor valid criticisms like that, I really think it's a great platform for modern storytelling.

I do have to ask myself, at times, if there is some level of insane conspiracy theory today that we owe at least in part to those people watching X-Files when younger. I have to admit that the 9/11 inside job truthers movement claims could have been ripped from the pages of an X-Files script.

My biggest concern, of course, is whether or not it could still be fresh. With recent high quality additions to television canon, we'd have to be prepared for Chris Carter coming back at us with a 90's angle when episodes like Home really aren't as shocking anymore. The bar has been raised (thankfully).

Right now, The X-Files is going to occupy a contextual place in television history like The Twilight Zone. A revival could very well tarnish that. On the other hand, I've never felt like I really received closure on the whole story arc ...

Comment: Re:How fast to charge. (Score 1) 426

by RobinH (#48794211) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show
This is pretty obviously meant to be a "second vehicle" aka "grocery getter". Our 5-person family has a minivan, plus a Ford Focus as a second vehicle, which I drive to work and to run errands but never take on long trips. I can't actually fit the whole family-of-five in the Focus, but it works as a second vehicle. This Bolt would also work exactly as well.

Comment: Re:If your decision is.... (Score 1) 512

by RobinH (#48768251) Attached to: Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack
This is an odd situation. This isn't a Streisand effect. The cartoons aren't information that they're trying to suppress, they're just viewed as offensive, the same way we would view cartoons of someone dismembering a baby as offensive. (Note that I would still support publication of any of those cartoons, even if I found them offensive.) If journalists wrote about the horrific things ISIS was doing and those journalists were attacked for criticizing ISIS then the proper response is to make sure that information gets out there. On the other hand, if I put up a sign pointed at my neighbor's house with (hand-drawn) pictures of dead babies and he over-reacted and shot me, I think he should be charged with murder, but I don't think the response from the neighborhood should be to put up more such signs. I'm pretty sure freedom of speech is about informing other people about stuff, not about yelling in someone's face continually when they've indicated they've long since stopped listening.

+ - Seismological Society of America Claims Fracking Reactivated Ohio Fault-> 1

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "There have been suspicions that fracking has caused minor earthquakes in Ohio but last year seismic data recorded by the Earthscope Transportable Array was analyzed by the Seismological Society of America using template matching and has resulted in a new publication and press release making the statement that Hilcorp Energy's fracking in Poland Township in March of 2014 "did not create a new fault, rather it activated one that we didn’t know about prior to the seismic activity." The earthquakes occurred in the Precambrian basement and lead the researchers to posit that further unknown faults may be activated by fracking. The press release ends with urging for "close cooperation among government, industry and the scientific community as hydraulic fracturing operations expand in areas where there’s the potential for unknown pre-existing faults.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: Early Soviet Computing? (Score 4, Interesting) 80

by eldavojohn (#48738403) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose a Question
Alexander Stepanov, I have never had a chance to ask someone as qualified as you about this topic. I grew up on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain and have constantly wondered if (surely there must have been) alternative computing solutions developed in the USSR prior to Elbrus and SPARC. So my question is whether or not you know of any hardware or instruction set alternatives that died on the vine or were never mass fabricated in Soviet times? I don't expect to you to reveal some super advanced or future predicting instruction set but it has always disturbed me that these things aren't documented somewhere -- as you likely know failures can provide more fruit than successes. Failing that, could you offer us any tails of early computing that only seem to run in Russian circles?

If you can suggest references (preferably in English) I would be most appreciative. I know of only one book and it seems to be a singular point of view.

Comment: Re:Jeavon's Paradox (Score 2) 82

by RobinH (#48705591) Attached to: Pew Survey: Tech Increases Productivity, But Also Time Spent Working
Yeah, but it's backwards. We've been making individuals (even unskilled ones) much more productive, and total productivity is going up, but interestingly that's not driving higher demand for unskilled labor (since about the 70's). It does seem to be driving some demand for skilled labor. That plus deregulation is what's driving income inequality. I would have thought the Jevons paradox thing should be increasing demand for unskilled labor.

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