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Comment: Yahoo Has Single Sign On... (Score 1) 446

by Xin Jing (#40754765) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's Holding Up Single Sign-On?

I moved to Google after the collapse of my Yahoo single sign on multiverse. All things became one, which was the security reason why I shut down my Yahoo accounts and left for Google. Yahoo as a web portal has a number of quality services that are linked. If only their privacy options were more robust I might still be there to enjoy them.

-Xin

Comment: The Origin Of A Name... (Score 5, Informative) 70

by Xin Jing (#30715178) Attached to: The Murky Origins of <em>Zork's</em> Name

An hour of searching revealed these clues to the origin of the classic gaming name Zork. Here's a 2001 interview with Dave Lebling, one of the devs from Zork and the early days of Infocom posted on Adventure Gaming Classic http://www.adventureclassicgaming.com/index.php/site/interviews/171/:

Q: There had been numerous speculations regarding the origin of the word "Zork." For the record, who among the "Infocom Imps" came up with this name? Where is the exact origin of the word "Zork"?

A: I'm pretty sure it was Marc Blank who first applied the word to the game. The word itself was current as an exclamation or nonsense word (like "foo" and "bar") around the lab. Programs in the ITS operating system were had to have six-letter or fewer names, and it was pretty common to use a placeholder name when working on something new. I think Marc used "TS ZORK" as the placeholder, and it stuck.
I think "Frobozz" was similar, of a variant of "foobar." Bruce Daniels was, I think, largely responsible for its ubiquity in the early parts of Zork.

We briefly changed the name of the game to "Dungeon" (which was my bad idea, I sheepishly admit), then changed it back after TSR (the D&D people) threatened us with a lawsuit over it. MIT's lawyers squashed them like bugs but we decided we liked "Zork" better anyway. The widely distributed Fortran version of Zork was written during the period when the game was called Dungeon, which is why that version is often called Dungeon.

Also here's a further clue in "The History of Zork", as recounted by Tim Anderson http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/Articles/NZT/zorkhist.html:

"...Marc, Bruce, and I sat down to write a real game. We began by drawing some maps, inventing some problems, and arguing a lot about how to make things work. Bruce still had some thoughts of graduating, thus preferring design to implementation, so Marc and I spent the rest of Dave's vacation in the terminal room implementing the first version of Zork. Zork, by the way, was never really named. "Zork" was a nonsense word floating around; it was usually a verb, as in "zork the fweep," and may have been derived from "zorch." ("Zorch" is another nonsense word implying total destruction.) We tended to name our programs with the word "zork" until they were ready to be installed on the system."

Anyone got the email address for Marc Blank? Undoubtedly the absolute truth lies with him.

Games

The Murky Origins of Zork's Name 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the murky-enough-for-a-grue dept.
mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."

Comment: Realistic Expectation Of Success... (Score 2, Insightful) 91

by Xin Jing (#30702664) Attached to: Palm Opens Dev Program, Offers $1M For Top App

I like to think of the browser market for inspiration: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0

I've gotten some commentary about using Hitslink, so here's another reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

Both first place and second place are locked in an eternal struggle to outdo each other. The nearest competition is a considerable distance from the frontline. I believe it's third place that is the real proving ground; success in both of my linked resources is defined as a single digit percentage point with the most room for improvement.

It's much easier to advance 6 points and take third place than it is to advance 26 points and take second place. Firefox isn't worried about Chrome or Safari taking second, the effort to get there is much to great. Chrome and Safari on the other hand occupy a position that is much closer to being dethroned by Opera. And IE isn't worried about any of them taking the lead, it has to extend effort to maintain and defend it's lead.

WebOS just has to close the lead on second by doing what the other OS guys are already doing.

Comment: Excitement Through Advertising Promotions... (Score 1) 305

by Xin Jing (#30564908) Attached to: Critics Call For NASA TV To "Liven Up"

The new ad-sponsored "exciting" NASA broadcasts:

Narrator: Our astronauts are assissted out of the capsule onto awaiting medical stretchers and swaddled by soft and simple 100% cotton blankets from the Martha Stewart Collection. Folks, these blankets feature a traditional basketweave design for a causal look you'll love to cozy up to after travelling away from home in the coldness of space or settling down at home right here on Earth.

Parched by the dust of stars and daily life in space, the astronauts will replentish vital bodily fluids with a 500ml bottle of Fiji Water. You see, Fiji naturally flavored tropical rain water is filtered for hundreds of years through volcanic stone. Weather you're an astronaut quenching your thirst in the harsh environment of space or working up a thirst right here on Earth, you can taste the purity of Fiji Water in every sip.

Now let's join Phil in the Crew Recovery Vehicle, where our returning astronauts will be examined by NASA physicians and administered body care using Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum. This skin replentishing treatments containing a concentrated Amino-Peptide Complex and are fragrance free. Each treatment delivers several anti-aging ingredients such as Vitamin B3, Vitamin E, Pro-vitamin B5, green tea extract, and allantoin.

For our folks at home on Earth who are just joining in, all of these exciting products that our honored astronauts are benefiting from can all be ordered direct at Amazon.com with free shipping! Just reference the promotional code "NASA LANDING 2009" before January 1 2010.

Comment: Re:Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (Score 1) 123

by Xin Jing (#29966428) Attached to: NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

While I agree that mechanical automation is more effecient than manual labor, I disagree that it's cheaper. You don't have to look to the stars to see the cost-savings of having cheap human labor right here on Earth. The agriculture industry has many similarities to mining in that when a machine replaces humans, it's extremely costly, very specialized and tends to need a human crew to assist with the operation. I think it's generally accepted that using specialized machines in labor-intensive industry increases productivity to process more work, but the need to have people still involved in production and support never goes away. Nor should it go away as long as industry and economy keep people busy and employed. Obviously there aren't going to be astronauts with pick-axes looking for nuggets of ore, but the cost offset and accptance of risk that can be transferred to human labor will be taken into consideration. Every business that is in business to turn a profit wants to get their operation up and running to make money while reducing the cost to conduct that business, not just applying a risk assessment to the financials but to the manpower as well which become linked when you start insuring the humans that are there and exactly what they will be doing.

Perhaps we agree on the use of specialized machines in off-world mining, in that expensive machines built to withstand extreme environments will do most of the heavy lifting in these operations. Certainly free enterprise and contract bidding will produce healthy competition for the production of and an economic boost to the corporations and nations that participate in the collection of natural resources in space. I think the need to have humans on site, managing, processing, maintaining and supporting the operation of those specialized machines will never completely go away.

Comment: Re:Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (Score 1) 123

by Xin Jing (#29961200) Attached to: NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

I think that Exploitation Colonialism hits the nail on the head rather accurately http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation_colonialism.

I would imagine that a wealthy space-faring corporation could easily be substituted for a traditional government, and employees forced to work in laborious and dangerous conditions would seek to improve their lives through and organized revolt or uprising, where "the primary cause for revolution was the widespread frustration with socio-political situation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt#Political_and_socioeconomic_revolutions

Let's face it, it's not going to be wealthy and powerful people that will be employed to physically mine minerals and resources from dangerous space locations, it's the same folks that have been used to build empires and further development of infrastructure and the momentum for expansionism since time began - the poor, the uneducated, the desperate and the outsiders.

Comment: Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (Score 1) 123

by Xin Jing (#29959416) Attached to: NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

And we all know what happens over time when a government extends itself beyond a sustainable threshold for too long - rebellions. Factions. Unrest. New states and governments that represent the people and their values. The classic example of establishing an independent base away from Earth is that one day if it survives, it will become a separate entity and demand recognition. In the past, the most technologically advanced and financially powerful countries in the history of the world had sent out ships to discover and tame a new land and guess what happened - things were never the same again.

Governments don't want colonies because of the inherent cost and effort to establish and maintain them over a protracted time. When American was new, for awhile it was a money-grab and several nations participated because it was a frontier where companies could pay others to do the hard work and extend their reach and hopefully deepen their pockets. All of those efforts were reduced to war in order to stop a new state from forming.

Historically, the human desire to acquire wealth has always run headlong into the need to exploit others to obtain that wealth and power. When a sustainable space-faring colony is finally created, we'll get to learn again that those who are in direct control will have plans of making that colony their own by establishing a new government to protect and provide for the people better than the governments that sent them there. In order to promote the ideals of wealth and power, the value of human rights gets violated.

And then begins the arms race, the effort by the governments of origin to minimize the loss of assets and sovereignty, the efforts by the separatists to establish a new place for themselves and ultimately be accepted as a distinctly different people with the right to shape their own destiny. Once people get the taste of freedom and the chance to claim their own space and write their own chapter in the pages of history, there's no turning back.

Comment: Genetically Modified Citizens Are Loyal Citizens.. (Score 1) 279

by Xin Jing (#29925001) Attached to: How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

While they are busy going about their business of damaging our DNA, why not target specific DNA bases? In one fell swoop the government can defend the state against enemies foreign and domestic, and at the same time ensure that future generations of taxpayers and residents comply with government standards of genetic expression and behavior.

How long will it take before a specific ethnic group claims that their DNA is bombarded with higher doses of more damaging radiation?

On the upside, the tin-foil hat brigade may finally have cause to bring to market a line of clothing and accessories that seeks to protect people from the prying eyes of their government.

"Travel wear in this modern age of government suspicion and distrust contains the latest advancements in anti-invasive technology."

It could present some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, say a remake of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing [DNA] In The Name Of".

Uncle Sam can modify our DNA, take our genetic rights away and bombard our genes with harmful radiation. Generations from now when humans have been turned into the perfect willing slaves, they will still find a way to resist opression - it's the human way.

Comment: Re:String Theory Scale... (Score 1) 227

by Xin Jing (#29919995) Attached to: Intergalactic Race Shows That Einstein Still Rules

It look like we are both right:

From the NOVA 'The Elegant Universe' transcript:

"In fact, if an atom were enlarged to the size of the solar system, a string would only be as large as a tree!" http://www.scribd.com/doc/185276/NOVA-The-Elegant-Universe-Transcript, jump to page 26 or keyword search for "solar system".

I find this similarity and difference between the book and the video interesting. While Greene doesn't specifically reference the distance in the video as being measured in Planck Length, the concept of enlarging an atom on a cosmic scale and using a tree as the reference as to the size of a string is nearly the exact same example at that used in the book. It's clear the intent is the same since the string theory subject matter is the same. Does the measuring in this example start at the heliopause or the termination shock?

In think both expressions captures the essence of the distances involved, but when you take something as inherently tiny as an atom and enlarge it to the size of our solar system measured across the heliosphere to the termination shock, we're still talking about incredible vast distances, and this just an atom which we're unable to view with any clarity using scanning tunneling microscopes. The distance analogy might as well be expressed as "can we see an atom on Pluto from the Earth".

Having the expression be "if an atom were enlarged to the size of the universe" is incomprehensible. Yet perhaps it's matched to the insurmountable task that string theorists have before them to provide a testable prediction. By suggesting that an atom be expanded to the size of the universe and the observer is then required to look for a specific tree to mark a unit of measurement is again suggesting an equally impossible and untestable and unfathomable concept. Yet with the universe example, no one will ever have that opportunity to say, "yes, I can see that Planck Length example that Brian Greene used is correct. From where I sit in my chair here at the edge of the universe, my calibrated equipment can detect that tree" is absurd.

Again I reference a quote from 'The Elegant Universe' video, this one made by S. James Gates Jr. from the University of Maryland on page 14 of the transcript I linked above, "If String Theory fails to provide a testable prediction, then no one should believe it."

At one point you are left with something you can't ever verify - and that's where facts end and belief begins.

"Laugh while you can, monkey-boy." -- Dr. Emilio Lizardo

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