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Comment Re:Just a fucking game (Score 4, Interesting) 220

Way back in the distant dawn of time (or at least, of competitive Counter-Strike play), I ran a major UK Counter-Strike league. Cheating was a pretty big issue back then (not least because software anit-cheat was much less developed) and we spent a lot of time on the watch for it. In the 18 months or so I was running the league, we had maybe 10 cheat detections during competitive play. The guys running the "open" public servers sponsored by the same company were getting a similar number of detections in the average week.

By and large, I think there were three reasons why people cheated. The first was simple curiosity; people who were bored of playing the game honestly and just wanted to see what the cheats were like. There probably weren't too many of these.

The largest group were the trolls; the people who cheated not because it was fun in itself, but because they got off on pissing off other people and screwing up their leisure time. Some of them would try to hide their cheating, but a lot of them were pretty damned open about it. After all, it's annoying to play a guy you think might be cheating. It's even worse to play a guy who is open and proud about the fact he's cheating, in a world where it can take time (up to an hour, on the public servers) to summon an admin.

The third kind were the properly competitive gamers who felt they were struggling to keep up with the pack and thought that by making subtle use of cheats, they could give themselves an edge. This was the only kind we tended to see in the competitive league. "Pro-gaming" was in its infancy back then, but was already becoming "a thing" and there was sponsorship and prize money floating around. There were lots of players who frankly weren't good enough who thought they could make a fist of pro-gaming. When it became clear that they weren't cut out for it (you need both a hell of a lot of practice time and god's own natural reflexes to cut it in that world), they'd often resort to cheats. They would always try to hide the fact they were cheating, so unless you got a rare software detection, discerning cheating from good or lucky play was hard (but not impossible) for an admin.

Comment Re:Eventually... But not yet (Score 2) 406

As others have pointed out, DisplayPort does do audio.

There are two main reasons to favour DisplayPort over HDMI on PC, though both of them are situational. The first is that it supports multiple monitors from a single port/cable.

The second, perhaps more significant, is that the first generation of "affordable" 4k monitors (ie. sub $1,000) generally don't have HDMI 2.0 support. This means that if you want 60Hz output at 4k, you need to use a DisplayPort cable.

Comment Hardly a new concept (Score 5, Insightful) 269

Having a strong currency is not always entirely in the national good. Sure, it's generally better than a weak currency (which is often a sign of political instability and a lack of international confidence in a country's prospects), but it does cause its own kind of problems. In particular, it can hurt exporters, as it costs overseas customers more to buy their goods.

The strength of the Deutsche Mark was often problematic for German industry. That's one of the reasons why Germany has been so enthusiastic about adopting the Euro, which gives it a significantly "weaker" currency than it would have otherwise, and locks it into currency parity with most of the rest of its regional bloc.

Comment Re:Translation:quit optimizing for Intel technolog (Score 1) 152

Actually, most of the games which have used GameWorks to date have been multi-platform games. For the most part, and with the odd dishonourable exception, the days of lazy, barebones PC ports are behind us. Developers are quite happy to spend time optimising PC versions, including through the use of Nvidia-specific tools/libraries.

The Witcher 3 was the highest profile example and, if you have the hardware to drive the GameWorks stuff (there is a serious performance cost), then it looks astounding next to the console versions.

Comment Re:Translation:quit optimizing for Intel technolog (Score 4, Interesting) 152

It's aimed at Nvidia, not Intel, and it's all about hair.

Or rather, it's all about Nvidia GameWorks, which got a lot of attention this year thanks to a number of bleeding-edge games, most notably The Witcher 3.

The horribly over-simplified tl;dr version is that Nvidia have been encouraging PC developers to use a set of closed-and-proprietary tools, which allow for some remarkably pretty in-game effects but more or less screw over AMD cards.

This, combined with the fact that Nvidia has, in general, better driver support, quieter and more power-efficient cards and, at the top end of the market, better single-card performance, has put AMD into a pretty bad place in the PC graphics card market right now. Yes, they still tend to have a slight price-to-power ratio advantage, but the quality of life drawbacks to an AMD card, combined with the GameWorks effect, has driven down their market share and, right now, makes it hard to recommend an AMD card.

There are no "goodies" or "baddies" here. Nvidia's GameWorks strategy is undoubtedly fairly dubious in terms of its ethics. At the same time, they are putting out better (and more power-efficient, so also on one level more environmentally friendly) cards (and the GameWorks effects can be VERY pretty), while AMD continues to put out cards that burn with the heat of a million fiery suns and have long-standing, unaddressed issues with their driver support.

Comment Re:Absolutely. (Score 1) 532

Think of the children, you monster.

Any moment now we could have a horrible incident where somebody typing drunk on Facebook would make a stupid typing error, go crashing through all of the firewalls and accidentally kill five children on a Minecraft server. If that drunken-surfer was anonymous, the families might not know who to sue.

Comment Re:This was _outlawed_ in the USA? (Score 2) 545

I was going to say...

I'd estimate that at the school I went to between the ages of 11 and 18, in a major UK city (and not all that far from some pretty rough areas), around 75% of the pupils made their own way there, usually via normal commuter buses (and then walking the last half mile or so). Even now (a couple of decades and a good few abduction panics later), I think the norm in the UK remains for most children aged 11+ to make their own way to school, based on what I see on the streets, train stations and bus-stops of London every morning.

Hopefully somebody is going to tell me that this Federal Law was just designed to stop one or two particular states/counties from implementing nutty policies.

Comment Re:If it can be played, it can be copied (Score 5, Informative) 364

It's not currently possible to play pirated PS4 games.

The PS4's security does appear to have been at least partially compromised, however. A recent video appears to show Linux running on a PS4, along with a version of Pokemon. Note that we don't yet have independent verification of this, so there's a chance (albeit probably a slim one given the track record of the group in question) that this is a hoax.

It's still a long way from being able to play pirated games, although it is certainly a first step on that road. More to the point, however, it is even further from being able to make full use of pirated games, given the extent to which the full functionality of many PS4 games is tied to online features. History (e.g. the situation with the Xbox 360) suggests that console manufacturers are pretty good, over time, at detecting consoles running pirated software when they connect to online services and locking them out of said services. A PS4 which can't access the PSN is not much of a PS4.

As for pirated games on the PS3, it was possible. Sort of. There was a specific firmware version which, if you didn't update past it, could be tricked into running pirated games (via a USB dongle, if I recall). However, you should note that firmware updates on the PS3 were mandatory both to use online services and to play games released after that firmware version was issued. So in other words, if you had an old PS3 you kept at the right firmware version and never tried to use it online, you could play pirated games which did not require a more recent firmware version. So it was of limited use for most people and was only ever really a proof of concept.

Comment Re:Why we cannot have nice things.. (Score 1) 123

Any sane ad-broker has a very good reason to care about malvertising and to put a lot of resource into filtering it out - and you identify it in your own post.

The rise in malvertising is serving as a huge driver for the use of adblockers. Moreover, while early adoption of adblockers was mostly by well-informed home and small-business users, the rise of malvertising means that major corporate and Government networks are increasingly switching to adblock-by-default. Which in turn means that a lot of less-informed users are becoming aware that adblockers exist and make web-browsing a much more pleasant experience.

If ad-brokers don't get serious about stopping malvertising, then they may find themselves pushing their ads out into the void. Frankly, they may already have left it too late...

Comment Re:If it weren't for games (Score 4, Insightful) 314

Indeed. The role of games in cementing MS's domination on the desktop is often overlooked. But it's games that keep the general public running Windows on their home PC (whether for themselves or for family members). And it's the fact that pretty much everybody uses Windows at home that means that businesses and Governments know that they can save a lot of time and money on staff training by using Windows, as everybody will just know how to use it.

The irony is that MS just spent more than a decade trying to downplay PC/Windows gaming, by throwing out a competitor to it in the shape of the Xbox line. What's interesting is that since Phil Spencer took over MS's gaming operations, he's swung the focus heavily back onto PC gaming (implying, I think, that he "gets it"). We hear a lot less about "Xbox exclusives" these days and a lot more about "Xbox/Win10 exclusives").

And no, Linux gaming is not even vaguely close to being an acceptable replacement for Windows gaming at the moment. A good chunk of PC gamers use the platform because it allows them to run the latest titles with better performance and visual fidelity than the consoles. Telling them to use an OS where they'll be mostly limited to older games and crappy driver support isn't going to cut it.

Valve have been trying hard to push it, as they know that in the long-term, having their platform be dependent upon a competitor's OS isn't a good business strategy. They got a nasty shock from Win8's app store, until it turned out to be shite. But the jury is very much still out on whether Valve are going to make serious headway with SteamOS. They've got a lot of work to do to convince publishers and hardware manufacturers.

Submission + - George Lucas criticises The Force Awakens (theguardian.com) 1

RogueyWon writes: While many critics have responded positively to JJ Abrams's take on Star Wars, one particular industry figure seems rather less impressed. George Lucas has criticised the "retro" tone of The Force Awakens and lamented his own lack of involvement in it. Speaking to television talk-show host and journalist Charlie Rose, Lucas quipped that he had sold his “kids to the white slavers that take these things”.

Comment Re:cool but inefficient (Score 1) 44

Actually, we've seen something vaguely similar before on the PS3, via its short-lived PS Move accessory. Remember that? The Wii-mote knock-off that nobody bought because it shipped with an unutterably shit Wii Sports knock-off as its launch-title, which required the controller to be recalibrated roughly every 3 picoseconds.

Thing is, there were (at least) two FPSes which had an option to use the PS Move: Killzone 3 and Resistance 3. The latter, despite being a great game, suffered from a poor implementation of the Move controls and is best played without them. However, while Killzone 3 is a fairly shit game, it did the motion controls very well indeed and using them was an absolute revelation.

See, the PS Move used a camera/light system to augment the motion sensing, which meant that the tracking was much more accurate than the Wii-Mote (even with the Wii-Mote+ upgrade) and it had much lower input latency than the Kinect. What this meant in an fps which did the controls properly was that you had a device which basically gave you rapid fine-aim which, once you adjusted to it, was basically as good as mouse control. It still fell behind mouse controls for large, rapid turns, but for lining up shots and picking off headshots in most battles, it was far ahead of a console controller. Combined with the nunchuck thingy in the other hand, you actually had a pretty decent control system for console FPSes. Certainly, Killzone 3 gave me the impression that I was playing two difficulty levels lower than I actually was when using the Move rather than a controller, which is on a par with what I expect when comparing the same game on mouse and keyboard vs controller.

Sadly, the Move was badly supported by Sony, sold badly and developers quickly lost interest in it. Which is sad, because it could have been a big step forward for console shooters.

Comment Re:Unconvinced... (Score 1) 242

Believe me, it was nothing like as sophisticated as "we can't tell the difference between IT/CS/Computer Literacy". It was more "all of a sudden these computer things are everywhere, there are qualifications in them, universities are offering courses in them and fee-paying parents are starting to expect us to teach them".

As a private school, they tend to recruit from outside of the usual teacher-training pathways (though they were never above poaching good state-school teachers who wanted to spend more time teaching and less time on crowd-control). They had some long-standing industry links they used to recruit some of their science and technology teachers, but those were in the "old" industries, not in the emerging tech sector. That's likely to be how they ended up with a chemical engineer (though I later picked up suggestions that he'd been less than honest about his experience in his job application). Of course, when you have nobody on your staff who knows anything about "those computer things", it's that much harder to make sure you're recruiting the right people to teach IT and/or CS as your interview panel will be operating blind.

Don't forget, we're talking about the mid-1990s here. While we were reaching the tipping point where most people had a computer in the home, internet connections remained a rarity (and were almost invariably 56k (or less) dial-up. The UK educational establishment was particularly crusty; most subjects at GCSE (exams taken at 16) and A-level (exams taken at 18) level still required coursework to be submitted hand-written.

Most of the lessons that the school delivered were firmly in the camp of "computer literacy". Basic use of Windows 3.1, MS Word and so on, taught from worksheets by staff who were themselves computer illiterate. Hell, one of the earliest problems I fixed for the school came around when one of the teaching staff was unable to install a new piece of software (required for the next module) on one of the PCs... because the hard drive was full. He didn't even know what a hard drive was, let alone how to free up space. They also started to offer a GCSE qualification in "IT" (which I didn't take, as it seemed pointless and it was clear universities didn't respect it), which was even more shambolic.

Actually, the slightly shocking thing was that when I went to university in the late 1990s (to study an arts-subject), none of the CS students I knew had qualifications in IT or CS at GCSE or A-Level. They all had maths and science subjects (by and large, the UK educational system forces students to narrow their subject choice much earlier than the US one, going for depth over breadth), combined with extensive self-teaching and participation in open source development.

Comment Unconvinced... (Score 4, Insightful) 242

Back in the mid 1990s, my (otherwise extremely good) private school found itself caught off-guard by the need to provide IT teaching. With no existing staff with computer science experience, it went about trying to rectify the situation in fairly horrible ways. First, it recruited what it thought was an IT specialist from industry, only to find he was a chemical engineer with no more than a basic level of computing literacy (and no teaching qualifications). He lasted a year.

Then it decided to use non-specialists to teach IT classes, having basically bought a bunch of mail-order courses. I'll emphasise that this was a private fee-paying school with high academic standards that would never have considered this approach for any other subject.

Anyway, the level of teaching was predictably disastrous. The teachers drafted in to cover the subject (including a number of elderly Catholic Priests) lacked any kind of background in it. Not only couldn't they teach the subject, but they couldn't convey why they were even trying to teach the subject. They would spend each lesson reading from one of those mail-order worksheets, with no idea how to either advise a pupil who was having problems, or how to recover the lesson if something went wrong.

The fact that the school's computer lab functioned at all was basically down to the volunteer efforts of a few of the more IT literate students (self-included), who would fix things after the latest balls-up and be called on during free-periods to get an IT lesson back on track after a teacher encountered an error message he hadn't seen before. I didn't particularly mind at the time; I wasn't taking any qualifications in IT, so the quality of the teaching didn't matter to me and helping out earned me a few perks. In particular, it got me out of the compulsory (but non-academic) religious education classes from ages 16-18.

But for those who were actually taking the subject formally (admittedly only a tiny handful in my year-group) it was a pretty catastrophic situation. In any other subject (including the practical ones such as design and technology), my school expected its teachers to be in command of their area. IT was just seen as being different somehow.

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