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Comment: Re:Replaying value (Score 1) 285

by ScaledLizard (#43392129) Attached to: Why Are We Still Talking About LucasArts' Old Adventure Games?
Can't try it at the moment, but I'm pretty sure that the Amiga and PC releases of Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken supported mice. Using the keyboard for shortcuts was optional. While the C64 supported mice, I do not know whether these games supported them on this platform. I remember using a joystick for these games on the C64.

Comment: Replaying value (Score 3, Interesting) 285

by ScaledLizard (#43391233) Attached to: Why Are We Still Talking About LucasArts' Old Adventure Games?

Many games are too boring to play to the end even once. They lack story, or the challenges are repetitive in nature (Shoot that alien! Now shoot that alien! And that must be an entirely different alien, even though it looks exactly like those I shot before it, but it's still moving!...)

It is an interesting challenge to see whether you still remember the solutions to all the puzzles in the LucasArts games. If you do, playing these games is like participating in an interactive movie, but often with way more alternatives. I still like exploring large and complex environments when I find the time. Leave linear first person shooters to the masses and give me a new Fallout, Wasteland, or Elder Scrolls. Zak Mc Kracken 3D?

The LucasArts games were made with love and programmed thoroughly. I mean, while many games in that era were difficult to set up, the LucasArts games usually scaled better with faster hardware and enjoyed patches for years, long after other manufacturers would have dropped similar games. Also, the philosophy of death-free play that encouraged explorative playing style without a gazillion load-attempt-reload. The LucasArts games still serve as an ideal that is difficult to reach for many productions even despite much larger costs.

Comment: Both sides need to contribute (Score 1) 284

by ScaledLizard (#43224329) Attached to: Schneier: Security Awareness Training 'a Waste of Time'

Buffer overflows, heap corruption and many similar bugs are found easiest by someone who has access to the source code and can understand it. However, not all problems can be laid on the developers. Phishing is a problem that developers that can hardly prevent. Also, users need to understand URLs ( At some point, users are always forced to trust software they did not write, and on a modern computer that has been used for a while, no one can assure that no malicious code has been installed, whatever antivirus vendors say. However, users need to be able to detect signs of infections.

Despite all that, clearly more security by design is needed. Reading about all the patches for Windows, Flash, Adobe Reader and Java makes me sick -- instead of building new features that are rarely needed into these systems, security should become a top priority for high-profile software. Simple mishaps put millions of users at risk. While Microsoft has at least instated measures (secure development lifecycle), similar efforts by Adobe, Oracle and Apple seem to be lacking.

Comment: Please redesign cars! (Score 1) 419

by ScaledLizard (#42615961) Attached to: Scientists Create New Gasoline Substitute Out of Plants
Looking at trains, ground-based vehicles that need to transport fuel are flawed by design. If we had electric cars that took electricity from an overhead line, these cars would be far more efficient for many reasons. Electric cars are normally twice as efficient as combustion engines. Also, many things that increase weight, and thus fuel consumption, are not needed in electric cars. This includes the fuel tank and gearbox. Going further, mounting the vehicle overhead on tracks would allow to integrate the overhead lines into the tracks, further reducing weight and aerodynamic resistance. It would also remove the risk of cars bumping into pedestrians and bicycle riders (may be more of a European problem).

Comment: I suppose we have been busy otherwise ... (Score 1) 376

If the arts were in steady decline over at least the last thirty years, technology has been on the rise. The knowledge gained may still prove to have a long life, and it still counts as a monument to the generation(s) that made it possible.

Comment: Re:Do we want...? (Score 1) 357

by ScaledLizard (#41697805) Attached to: Surface RT vs. iPad: a Comparison
Microsoft is embracing the ARM world by bringing its operating system to the platform. For many people, the Microsoft label alone will be sufficient to buy such systems. Over time, Surface RT will be extended by people writing software for the system. Ultimately, Microsoft will be able to leverage power given to them by the customers to extinguish at least the Android platform. They may be able to reconquer their monopoly. Is that something, we, as customers should want?

Comment: Who cares about operating systems? (Score 0) 344

by ScaledLizard (#41643761) Attached to: Windows 8: Do I Really Need a Single OS?

Honestly, isn't Slashdot about news for Nerds and stuff that matters? So why do we keep discussing operating systems? The far more interesting stuff is built on top of the operating system, and the operating system merely serves that. I don't use the operating system to draw in 2D or 3D, I don't use it to write software, and I don't use operating system to write mail and posts.

Current operating systems offer file systems and hardware abstraction, and have done that for decades. We should be discussing where we want to take technology, not where it lead us in the past. How can we find better metaphors for storing data than a folder structure? How can we improve collaboration between different applications? How can we make more intelligent machines? Let's keep dreaming, and find ways to make these dreams come true.

This isn't to belittle the efforts of Linux, Microsoft or Apple, but just to put stuff into perspective. Operating systems are overrated. When people care about code being able to run on several operating systems, that just proves my point.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson