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Comment: Old games were more difficult (Score 1) 178

by MtHuurne (#47314807) Attached to: The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code

Another reason cheat codes existed is that without them, a lot of players couldn't finish the game. I think there are several reasons for this: the arcade roots, a larger percentage of hardcore gamers, the need to prevent the player from finishing an expensive game quickly after buying or renting it and game design being a much younger discipline.

Don't get me wrong, I actually prefer today's easier games, but it does mean that you don't really need a cheat code anymore to finish most games. Instead of having the difficulty increase a lot as the levels progress, games now have selectable difficulty from the start and achievements to add challenge for more talented and/or experienced players.

Comment: Re:But can you actually trust it? (Score 1) 100

by MtHuurne (#47163947) Attached to: Google Announces 'End-To-End' Encryption Extension For Chrome

Chrome extensions are tied to your Google account, and Google has pretty much complete control over them. Chrome, as a browser, does not need to be tied to a Google account (although it will suggest that you do so) and its automatic updating can be disabled.

Not updating your browser will also leave you vulnerable. You could download updated Chrome installs from a generic download page, using a different browser and an IP address that is not associated with you, instead of accepting (possibly customized) automatic updates. That would be safe under the assumption that the generic Chrome build is not trojaned.

More to the point, though, I can securely send messages even though a compromised browser, if I encrypt the messages externally.

True, but then it would be more convenient to send messages from an external mail application and not use web mail at all.

Comment: Re:Implementation IS the value. (Score 1) 97

That and the lobbyists: if there were fewer of these agreements in negotiation there would be less work for them. Not all GDP increases are actually useful. In the Netherlands we had an exceptionally soft winter; the GDP decreased because less natural gas was sold.

Comment: Re:But can you actually trust it? (Score 4, Insightful) 100

by MtHuurne (#47160325) Attached to: Google Announces 'End-To-End' Encryption Extension For Chrome

If you're worried about Google itself being forced to compromise this extension, you shouldn't be using Chrome at all.

In any case, the current state of webmail is typically messages stored as plain text, transmitted over secure sockets. Encrypting the message itself is a big step forward.

Comment: Re:Hedge (Score 5, Interesting) 238

by MtHuurne (#47068521) Attached to: Google Fiber: No Charge For Peering, No Fast Lanes

This is Google's hedge against increasingly higher costs for peering and neutrality breaking ISP's, so why would they then turn around and be hypocrites by ruining the very reason they're moving intro infrastucture to begin with?

Android started in much the same way, to avoid telcos getting control over the content people access on their phones. While the base OS of Android is still free, a lot of the standard applications are now licensed from Google and the terms for licensing them are becoming more strict. Google's fiber is neutral today, but that doesn't mean it will stay neutral forever.

Comment: Re:Surface: the only Hope (Score 1) 379

by MtHuurne (#47067837) Attached to: With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

They tried to go for the infotainment market with the ARM-based Windows RT, but it found very few customers, mainly because there are not many apps for it. A "Surface Mini" would only have a chance if it runs on x86 and I don't know how feasible it is to produce a small light x86 tablet that gets a decent battery life, while also being affordable and powerful enough to run Windows 8.

So I don't know if I would call this a long-term strategy or just facing the realities of today.

Comment: Novena laptop (Score 1) 394

by MtHuurne (#46934219) Attached to: Richard Stallman Answers Your Questions

We could try to raise funds to pay for reverse engineering of the VPU in the Novena laptop -- if we could find skilled reverse engineers ready to take the job. Can you introduce me to any?

A quick search turns up this product description which points to the Freescale i.MX6Q specs.

Does anyone know what he means with "VPU"?

The GPU is a Vivante GC2000, which has been partially reverse engineered already; support is being added to etnaviv, which is a user-space driver -- the part connecting Mesa + Gallium to the kernel driver -- for the Vivante graphics cores (support older cores like the GC860 is good enough for everyday use). The kernel driver itself (galcore) is available under GPL, although it could use a cleanup. So there is no need to reverse engineer everything from scratch, but the etnaviv project could certainly use more contributors.

There is also a video decoding acceleration block in the i.MX6, but like all things H.264 that is likely a patent minefield, so I'm not sure it would be worth spending a lot of resources on reverse engineering that.

Comment: Re:Blank Media (Score 1) 477

by MtHuurne (#46924267) Attached to: Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

Also, drives aren't proper backup, unless they're offsite, and these discs pack 50GB each, more than enough for most discrete items on your 3TB drive (what do you need that for anyway, HD porn?)

Optical discs aren't a proper backup either unless you store them offsite: they are easily destroyed in a fire or taken by a burglar.

I think encrypted online backup is a far more convenient solution than optical discs: it can run as a background process instead of requiring the user to insert a blank disc regularly.

Comment: Re:Design Patterns by the Gang Of Four (Score 1) 247

by MtHuurne (#46839715) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

Well, I'd argue that a library that needs a single global init call is itself a poorly implemented singleton with all the associated problems. It is unfortunately a common occurrence and wrapping it in a singleton class is a way to deal with it. But in my opinion that is making the best of a bad situation rather than a pattern that I'd recommend if you have anything to say about the library interface.

I have seen a lot of singleton use in C++ unrelated to libraries and most of those uses became problematic at some point. In C++ in particular, the fact that with a singleton you can't control the moment it destructs can be a problem if the destructor needs to do more than free memory.

Comment: My favorites (Score 2) 247

by MtHuurne (#46839175) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?
Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach by Hennessy & Patterson
Helps you understand what goes on inside a computer at the hardware and OS level, as well as illustrating how you can reason about the performance of a system before you actually build it.
Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice by Foley & van Dam
A good starting point for learning about computer graphics. Not all of it is still relevant, but even if you skip the chapters about vector displays and user interfaces there is still plenty of useful material in there.
Programming: The Derivation of Algorithms by Kaldewaij
Teaches a way of constructing algorithms that are provably correct. Although I rarely follow this approach to the letter (it is very time consuming), elements of it are extremely valuable in everyday programming. For example, thinking in terms of preconditions, postconditions and invariants (design by contract) helps in designing good interfaces, finding bugs, placing useful asserts etc. Even just thinking to yourself "could I prove this program?" without actually doing it is useful, since if the answer is negative, the program is too complex and probably incorrect.

Comment: Re:Design Patterns by the Gang Of Four (Score 1) 247

by MtHuurne (#46839043) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

If you don't read the book until you have lots of experience, you will probably have reinvented most patterns, but using different names for them which will only confuse other people reading your code. Overuse of design patterns may be a necessary developmental phase ;)

By the way, while it is in the GoF book, I'd argue that Singleton is actually an anti-pattern.

Ernest asks Frank how long he has been working for the company. "Ever since they threatened to fire me."