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User Journal

Journal: yo

Journal by Hatta

--
Censorship is obscene.
Patriotism is bigotry.
Slashdot is unusable without noscript.

User Journal

Journal: Why I pirate

Journal by SmallFurryCreature
On 9 October 2012, the game XCOM: Enemy launched... launched in the US. Unknown to me, the EU launch date was to several days layer, 12 October 2012. Maybe. Yet, 9 October 2012, I received an SMS from Gamemania.nl a dutch gaming retailer chain, that my copy was ready to be picked up. So I left work early that day to arrive 17:54 in front of the store. Doors pulled almost shut, store had already closed and refused to serve me. Very well, I thought there are other stores in the world, so I bought it the next day at Free Record Shop in Amsterdam. Then when I came home, I tried to install. First I had to install steam, which crashed, crashed and crashed some more but finally I got it working and had to create an account. Then activate my email. Then I installed the game and was told it was not released. What? If the game was not released, what was I holding in my hand? Note the error message mentioned nothing about a region or what would be the release date. Just not released. By google came to my aid and I found that throughout Europe, the game was available for sale but not yet ready for install. I read this from angry users posts. Not a single forum had an official answer yet. Not yet and counting. Even the official release date was less then clear. But I know my Internet, if Steam, Dutch retailing, 2kgames/firaxis couldn't/wouldn't help me, maybe some pirates would? thepiratebay itself is of course famously blocked in holland but there plenty of mirrors around. So I checked and yes, full downloads were available in various flavours for a total cost of ZERO bucks! And if you had issues, then the supplies answered your question in minutes. Not like the hours, days and counting before getting a reply from people I had payed money too. Many a reply to a piracy story has had comments similar to my story, so what is so special about it? Nothing. Just that after years of downloading, I have with MMO's gotten used again to paying and I didn't have any issue with paying for this game, if it had worked. But I do have an issue with paying 50 euro's for a game that can't be played and that now that I have read the forums I have seen is filled with bugs. Bugs the official forums have no answers for but that are fixed on piracy forums. To repeat myself, for this game the people that wanted me to pay did:
  • Act as if my giving them money is a favor they are doing me and only when they feel like it, opening hours be damned.
  • Not reply in a timely manner (or at all) to complaints
  • Treat Europeans as second rate customers for no reason (what are they afraid of, that a world-wide release will overload the servers)
  • Break consumer laws by selling a product not fit for its purpose (a game that can't even be installed is obviously not a fit product)

Meanwhile, the pirates offer:

  • Early access
  • No charge
  • Free, fast useful support by computer experts.
  • Service available any day of the week at any hour.

Sometimes the anti-piracy people complain the content industry can't compete with free. But come ON! I had PAYED already and the companies just said "no". Meanwhile the group that doesn't want money, said "yes". This is like paying a hooker to have an headache while your wife is stuffing your wallet full of money and begging for sex. Something ain't right!

And this is why I pirate. Because how else can I send the signal that I am not a sheep who will just keep turning the other cheek? Sure, there are sheep who advocate just that, just wait 3 days, it is not the developers fault etc etc. FUCK THAT! Nothing is every anybodies fault and I as a consumer should just take it all and keep quiet.

NO! And that is my reason why I post about being a pirate. Because just downloading alone isn't enough. Consumer boycotts don't work, there are to many sheep drowning out the silent protest of people like me who just see no other option but to not pay to make it clear I expect more service for my cash.

Because I see no other option. Mails go unanwered, forum posts get ignored, I can get my money back from the store and the sales clerk don't care, not his problem. How can I HURT that manager who thought it was a good idea to do a staggered release, hurt that Steam admin who didn't just flip a switch to prevent customers getting angry. How can I even get the companies involved to acknowledge my existence?

I can't. But I can keep my money in my pocket. That doesn't solve anything but it is a lot more fun having impotent nerd rage with cash then without.

Anyone want a beer over the backs of game developers who haven't learned that if they want an income, they need to tell their managers to not upset their customers?

User Journal

Journal: Justice 1

Journal by Hatta

Rioters in England cause millions of dollars worth of damage in 2011. 3000 arrested.

Bankers in England cause billions of dollars worth of damage in 2008. Zero arrested.

This is what passes for justice these days.

User Journal

Journal: Metamoderation, wtf? 2

Journal by Hatta

It used to be that metamoderation was just that, moderation of moderation. I haven't metamoderated in a while, but something has gone horribly wrong. When I go to metamod today, none of the comments are moderated. All I see is "Score: 1". What use is it for me to judge whether a comment has been moderated appropriately , when there's no moderation applied?

Just another reason Slashdot 2.0 sucks.

Government

Journal: Legitimacy 5

Journal by Hatta

A government exists to protect it's citizens. Any government that doesn't, doesn't deserve to exist. Let's look at the US government.

In 2004 crime in the US cost its victims almost 16 billion dollars. [cite(pdf, table 82)]

The criminals behind the current financial crisis have cost the US *trillions* of dollars. Clearly, theft, fraud, and all other property crimes are insignificant in the face of this disaster, and our government did nothing to stop it, and is holding no one accountable. They have utterly failed in their responsibility to protect us.

The WTC attacks on 9/11/01 killed nearly 3000 Americans and caused losses reaching 1.7 trillion dollars in the stock market. [cite]
In response, Bush went to war with Iraq. This war has killed over 4500 Americans and will cost over 3.5 trillion dollars. [cite(pdf, p.1)] Not only did the US government fail to protect us, they harmed us worse than Bin Laden did.

Let's keep going. In 2007, 775,138 people were arrested for marijuana possession. In contrast, 597,447 were arrested for *all violent crimes combined. [cite]. As you can see, the US government victimizes more of its citizens than it protects.

So what's left to justify the existence of this government? Majority rule perhaps? Well, Barack Obama got 62.98 million votes in 2008. The voting age population in 2008 was 230,117,876.[cite] That's 27% of our population that voted for this president. That can in no way be interpreted as a mandate to rule.

From all these facts and figures, one conclusion is clear. The US government has no claim to legitimacy whatsoever.

User Journal

Journal: Nintendo Announces DSi and Wii storage solution

Journal by AKAImBatman

Earlier this morning, Nintendo made several major announcements in a press conference in Japan. Ranging from a new Nintendo DS to a Wii storage solution. Nintendo's first announcement was a brand-new handheld in the Nintendo DS line of consoles. This revision of the DS brand will be a significant break from the previous DS Lite console. It will be named "Nintendo DSi". (Nintendo DS-Eye, get it?) Nintendo also announced a solution to the Wii storage problem. Unfortunately, it sounds like players will be able to download to their SD Card, but not actually play games directly from the card.

Firehose Link: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=1225579

(Still trying to figure out if the firehose does anything.)

Upgrades

Journal: Holy shit, an editor who edits

Journal by mollymoo
When did Soulskill start editing? Perhaps I never noticed them before, but the stories (s)he's posting recently have been, you know, edited. Wow. Just, wow. It's a sad comment on the quality of Slashdot's editing that bothering to write a summary rather than blindly posting incoherent, wrong, broken-linked or duplicated submissions is so noticable, but that's the way it is. Bravo, Soulskill!
User Journal

Journal: My platform

Journal by Hatta

I'll add to this as ideas come to me.

There shall be a right to trial by jury in all cases.

Abolish sovereign immunity.

Restitution must be made to innocent people falsely accused, if no charges are filed, or if a person is found innocent the state must bear their legal fees, lost wages, etc. Similarly, those who sue and lose should bear the costs to the defendent.

The punishment for legal negligence should be equivalent to the potential damage caused by the negligence. If a prosecutor neglects to produce exculpatory evidence during discovery, then he should get the same penalty that the defendant would have gotten.

There should be something akin to habeas corpus for evidence.

The president gets 2 weeks vacation per year, as do congressmen.

Congressmen must show up for work, i.e. they must be present to vote unless they're on vacation.

Congressmen must read and understand every bill they vote for. Perhaps bills should be read aloud before a vote, or maybe there should be a quiz.

Probable cause should be just that, probable. If any judge issues warrants, or officer makes arrests, and these warrants or arrests lead to convictions in less than 50% of cases they must lose their authority to issue warrants or make arrests.

Given the widespread practice of 'testilying', it shall be presumed reasonable to doubt any testimony given by a police officer. Everything an officer does while on duty must be recorded.

All jurors should be informed of their responsibility to nullify unjust laws.

Passing a law that is found unconstitutional will result in impeachment.

No corporate personhood.

No victim, no crime. If there is no actual, specific, individual victim, no crime has occurred.

User Journal

Journal: WiiCade Open Sources Flash API

Journal by AKAImBatman

Slashdot doesn't seem to get much news about Wii Homebrewing, so I thought I'd throw out an article on the latest updates to the popular Wii Web Gaming site WiiCade.

According to GoNintendo, they have released a new version of their Wii Remote API under a combination of the GPL and LGPL licenses. To sweeten the pot, this new version offers cool new features like IR-Based Motion Sensing, 4 player support, control over zooming, and partial Nunchuk support.

To celebrate, WiiCade released 5 new games that use these features. These games are Icy's Droplet Gathering Adventure, Space Shooting Mania, Asteroid Falldown, Bumper Car Madness, and Catch a Falling Star. It looks like someone has already released another game called WiiCade Snake. And for you Bush lovers/haters out there, they also have a Make Your Own Bush Speech "game". If you're into that sort of amusement, that is.

I personally recommend Bumper Car Madness. It's a rather crazy and fun arcade game that has you competing to see who can get the most tokens. It offers three control schemes, two which allow you to steer by twisting the remote, one which follows the cursor. It's tons of fun, especially with friends.

It looks like they also got a new look to go with the upgrade. Decide for yourselves if it's better or not. I like it, though. :-)

User Journal

Journal: A new X-Com, Apocalypse that is.

Journal by SmallFurryCreature

Once there was a game called UFO: Enemy Unknown. A turnbased game that saw you take a small squad of soldiers to battle a host of nasty aliens. It was so good I played just the demo over and over again until finally I could buy the full game.

Brilliant... well up to a point. For all its tactical brilliance, too many battles ended in you having to hunt down a final missing alien all over the place. It also suffered from that typical turnbased syndrome that many real world tactics just don't happen in a turn-based world.

Enemy of the Deep put the action below sea level, and while good was just more of the same.

Then came X-Com: Apocalypse. (It changed the name to appease the unwashed masses in the colonies) and it was good... kinda.

It added a realtime element, rather then each soldier on the field being given their own turn, you would pause the game, give orders to your squad and then resume watching your soldiers carry out your orders, or at least attempt to do so.

It gave turn-based gaming what it never had before, real firefights. For the first time your heavy machine gunner really was laying down a blanket of fire to cover your advancing troops, for the first time your soldiers really dived out of the way of incoming fire rather then just stand there and take it because it wasn't their turn.

The game also added multiple factions, and many other goodies but sadly it was also a game from those days when graphics just did not scale and today the game looks truly horrible.

Cue a void of many years before we got our next change to go kick alien but tactically.

Lots has been tried and it all failed, we had turn-based that seemed to increase the endless waiting of the orignal and real-time that failed to do what Apocalypse did.

To be clear, both turn-based AND realtime have their problems.

  • Turn-based suffers from a lack of realism, machine gunners provide covering fire, they do NOT wait their turn to squeeze of a quick burst. Soldiers react to being shot at and don't just stand there. It quickly becomes micro-management if you have to drag your squad through endless turns just to travel across the map.
  • Realtime needs player AI, your soldiers need to do more then just execute the last command. This means they should be able to engage the enemy on their own, take cover if under fire, switch equipment as needed, switch targets as needed etc etc. Without this it can become even more a case of micro management then the turnbased game.

    Apocalypse did it nearly all right. A soldier on their own would attack any enemy, switch to the most dangerous one, take cover behind anything close if needed. This made for some of the most intresting battles I ever seen in a computer game.

    So what is needed to make a true semi-realtime UFO/X-Com sequel.

    You are the commander, selected from thousands of other ordinary human beings by the X-com project (the original games were just a training program) you have been chosen to be the tactical brain behind a program setup to deal with the increasing numbers of alien sightings.

    The first part of the game functions as the tutorial and sees you being asked to deal with several early missions involving events that may be related to the increased number of sightings, including investigating several human organisations.

    The X-com organisation has you making the tactical decisions with overall strategic orders coming from the various real world organisations, your task is to keep your real agenda (keeping the world out of alien control) with appeasing those who fund your program. Not all of them share the same goal, or even your goal.

    Early on their is also demand that you keep your actions as secretive as possible for risk of finding to many opposed to you.

    In the beginning you find yourselve equipped with real world weapons for your combat missions. Resources are limited but realistic, you are outfitted as a small special forces team could be expected to be. You got high quality equipment, basics in ready supply (No special forces unit in the real world needs to hustle for bullets) but limited in scope. Your currency for improving this is NOT just money but also goodwill with various real world organisations, if the US likes you, expect a carrier force to be assigned to your unit, if the USSR likes you, you may get advanced air transport capabilities, the Israeli's like you, you get advanced intelligence, the arabs supply more money then you could hope to spend, etc etc.

    Offcourse their are counters to this as well, not everyone will like you to be friendly with their enemy, especially if they perceive your actions to harm them.

    Before a mission becomes available your job is to insruct your scientists to research what tech you find most desirable, instruct engineers to use this research to augment your gear and to train your soldiers in prepration for the next mission.

    Your soldiers are an entire segment of management on their own, soldiers who are injured need to heal BUT can also spend time studying during that (slows the healing somewhat but wastes less time) Soldiers on intensive training are not available for combat until finished while on-site study might see them ready in a couple of hours. Ready teams can be instantly deployed, but the constant pressure wears them out.

    Then there is the question of deployment, your main base has the best facilities but makes it hard to respond quickly to events in remote corners of the world.

    When an mission occurs your first decision will be to decide to respond or not. Make an attack to stop an alien take over of the vatican and you might just give youreselve a load of bad press, while a similar assault on the pentagon (if the US is friendly to you) might be far more acceptable. (Hush it up as a terrorist strike)

    Then comes the question of what units will respond and how long you will wait before the attack will commence. Do you take the small elite team and drop them by parachute, use local agents, take the time to get a proper force ready. An option is also to attack with the first squad to arrive, then as combat takes place reinforcements could arrive.

    Further tactical decisions are what back up forces to deploy, Evac choppers, gun-ships, civilian rescue teams.

    The combat area itself is fairly large to accomadate real world tactics and the use of light support vehicles, they should also be random like the original X-com games. Combat starts with you having to insert your forces, this changes by the mode of transportation. Parachute drop, helicopter insertion or just driving in from a corner of the map.

    The insertion is for the first time a real part of the battle, as the parachute drop will see your forces scattered over the map and a helicopter drop gives you the firepower of the chopper to clear the landing area.

    Once your troops are on the ground they form themselves into small squads as dictated by their role, machine gunner team, mortar team, sniper duo etc etc.

    Typically a mission will see you first move your combat units (not individual soldiers) to secure the drop zone, then proceed with the mission objective. Units are given directions of were to go, and how to get there, typically you want to move as fast as possible until combat starts. The units however will use their OWN AI to execute their orders and change them as needed. A soldier being told to run down a corridor will STOP and open fire if an enemy appears. Soldiers receiving fire will not slowly walk to their destination, they will either speed up returning fire on the move if possible, or crouch down and return fire or try to get to their destination under cover.

    Not all units are combat units and for larger missions you mind find medical forces and other support units who need to be escorted and protected.

User Journal

Journal: Interesting Misconception 4

Journal by AKAImBatman

Today's lesson on taking things out of context. Here's a post I made today:

How is Science any different from groupthink? Scientists are no where near as impartial as they claim to be. The only checks and balances in place are reviews by scientific peers!

Think about it.

Shocked yet? Frightened at how I could possibly say such a thing? Clamoring for the mods to continue my fall to oblivion? I even got this response from an AC:

You're usually more level headed than this. I think you're just being silly.

Interesting thing, though. No one read the context. Here's the post I was replying to:

How are they different from groupthink? or the political bias at times that persists in Wikipedia?

Their top level admins are no where near as impartial as they claim to be. Obvious subjects to avoid on Wikipedia are those which are based on religious, political, or environmental, concerns. People have taken "maintaining" those types of entries to ridiculous levels that whole pages of discussion exist behind the page where the various factions bitch at each other. The best way to see the bias is to watch what they require to have accredited links and what they do not, let alone what sites they consider credible sources for disputed information.

While it has much useful information there are just certain subjects to avoid

Now let's re-read my text in context:

How are they different from groupthink? or the political bias at times that persists in Wikipedia?

Their top level admins are no where near as impartial as they claim to be.

How is Science any different from groupthink? Scientists are no where near as impartial as they claim to be. The only checks and balances in place are reviews by scientific peers!

See it? Still want my head on a platter?

An interesting experience.

Editorial

Journal: iPhone: Why So Negative? 4

Journal by AKAImBatman

I just got back from reading the Chicago Tribune's various stories on the iPhone. The reviews were very positive, if not a bit reserved. Sales may have topped 500,000 units. And sales have been so good that the AT&T activation servers have been overloaded. All in all, a very good launch for the iPhone. Not perfect mind you, but nothing ever is.

So imagine my surprise when I checked Slashdot this morning to find that the only story on the launch is Activation Problems in iPhone Paradise. No mention of the 500,000 unit estimate. Nor is there mention of the strongly positive reaction by the market. The only thing discussed is the activation problems, which are blown incredibly out of proportion. From the "long-wait-short-celebration" department tag, to a link to an engadget poll that won't let you see the results unless you vote (There's no "I don't have an iPhone option?" WTH?), all the way to using a random blog of one guy's experience as the basis for what all ~500,000 users (estimated) are experiencing.

Maybe it's just me, but this has gone way too far.

Slashdot is a place where intelligent people tend to hang out to converse. Because these people know a lot, they easily become jaded. I know that I personally have struggled a great deal with becoming unintentionally negative. And it's not necessarily the problem of dealing with people who know less. That's a reasonable excuse for tech support reps, but it doesn't hold up for professionals. In fact, I often find that I can become so indoctrinated in a certain way of thinking (because I know quite a bit about it) that anything that seems to violate that doctrine must be wrong.

Of course, this is a very dangerous trap. There are always clever ways around problems without violating the laws of physics. In fact, the solution presented often solves the problem in a very unique way that requires a dramatic shift in thinking.

For example, hydrogen cars are often criticized for requiring grid power to generate the hydrogen. Thus many discount the option because it "doesn't provide an alternative fuel source". Which is true, but it misses the point. Hydrogen provides a shift in the way that our infrastructure works. Rather than having millions of inefficient, dirty, smog-inducing, portable combustion engines on the road, we could generate all the power from relatively clean and efficient sources like Nuclear power plants then distribute that power to a "vehicle grid" using hydrogen as the storage and transmission device. From that perspective, hydrogen suddenly becomes a lot more appealing. (Without diving into the logistics issues of converting fueling stations, of course.)

Thus I can't help but wonder, is Slashdot getting too negative for its own good? I've been noticing a sharp increase in stories that are either overblown or outright inaccurate. From PopCap Distressed Over 'CopyCat' Games (the original interview states that PopCap is distinctly unaffected by clones), to W3C Bars Public From Public Conference (the newsie apparently couldn't understand English), to Judge Orders TorrentSpy to Turn Over RAM (Judge ordered web logging to be turned on), I'm beginning to wonder if the general status of the Slashdot users and editors isn't taking a turn for the worse. I'm seeing fewer and fewer stories with a positive slant. Those that do have a positive slant are either overblown claims (which results in a negative reaction) or misreported claims (which results in the same negative reaction, except that all of Slashdot is barking up the wrong tree).

While I understand that much of the confusion and negativity is pouring out of the press, it's important to keep a cool head on our shoulders and think critically about every piece of information we see. While I don't directly blame the Slashdot editors or the readers, I do think that all of us can make a contribution toward positive reenforcement on Slashdot. We readers can do two things:

1. Try to make sure that the stories we submit are correctly stated and reflect the true issue at hand.

2. Keep our replies civil. It's so easy for all of us (myself included) to get mad at the other guy thinking he doesn't know what he's talking about. Yet sometimes he actually does. So please be gentle when correcting each other. You'd be amazed at the smart people you'll develop a rapport with!

For the editors, I can offer one major suggestion: Apply critical thinking before smacking that "Approve" button. I know you guys see an absolutely incredible number of submissions day in and day out. The catch is finding the submissions that are worth posting to the front page of Slashdot. As of late it seems like submissions are being chosen more for their yellow (read: inaccurate) headline rather than their substantiveness as news. So please be considerate when choosing submissions.

Thank you all for listening! :-)

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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