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Comment: Re:Matt, wake up. (Score 1) 218

by Zape (#44289721) Attached to: Current Doctor Who Warns Against Facebook

Social media didn't create this trend, Matt. Hop in your TARDIS and fly back a thousand years and you'll have Kings and Queens demanding the painters take a few extra pounds off their royal portraits...

I hate to nitpick but since it does go to your point, actually if you went back you would find Kings and Queens demanding extra pounds added to the portraits. Being overweight was a sign of wealth and very much in style. It isn't just about the images we present to others but also the interpretations a particular culture will make of those images.

Comment: A Little Perspective (Score 2) 461

by Zape (#43347149) Attached to: Let Them Eat Teslas

Disclaimer: I would love a Tesla model S, but even with the mentioned loans could not possibly justify buying one over saving up for my children's education.

It is ridiculous to try to prop up the success of a company by government backed loans. If electric cars will succeed, let them do so on their own. I personally hope they do, but think that X-Prize style awards for better batteries/chargers is the best way to do that.

However, I think student loans are one of the worst things our government has ever backed(worse than the Tesla loans). By providing them we encourage an already existing problem of people getting degrees when they should be learning a trade instead, and mounting up debt that will take them twice as long to pay back. Scholarships and Pell Grants already exist as an excellent tool for providing assistance to the most needy, and the most deserving. Furthermore, working your way through college is not only doable, but builds character while reducing the amount of trouble students get in to. For those instances where there is a real need for a loan, such as medical school, the government isn't really needed. In addition to grants, the government already provides assistance for those who have served (GI Bill) and those who will promise to serve (ROTC Scholarships). There is some of that in the private sector (hospitals, chick-fil-a, etc.), but I'm all for the government encouraging more of it.

Finally, if we did a better job at the grade school level we wouldn't be trying to squeeze unprepared students into college curriculum while they are building up tremendous debt attending institutions they won't be able to graduate from. The real problem with government assisted student loans (and most risky/payday loans in the private sector, but that is a separate gripe) is that they are an attack on those the current system has already failed while giving an empty promise of an easy out.

Comment: Re:I'm a skeptic. (Score 1) 841

by Zape (#42899243) Attached to: Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That NYT Tesla Test Drive Was Staged

Motor Trend named the Chevy Vega the car of the year in 1971. Car and Driver named the Renault Alliance as one of 1983's 10 best cars. In 1985 the Ford Merkur also made this list. You might enjoy this.

Hey, my first car was a Vega and I resent your insinuation. Mine might have been 15 years old the first time I got behind the wheel of it, but it survived that long, and kept on running... I could get over 100 mph (after accelerating about 5 minutes) in that thing, despite parts of it being held together with chicken wire. Just because our nickname for it was "The Green Skunk"... OK, looking back, it might not have been the car it felt like at the time. No wonder my Mom was so quick to pawn it off on me and get a new car.

Comment: Re:DO NOT ASSUME WESTERN NAMES! (Score 1) 383

by Zape (#42751681) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Name Conflicts In Automatically Generated Email Addresses?

Why the hell does everyone assume western names?

I think it is VERY valid that software should be written to accommodate localization and the inevitability of non-western names. However, the article is referring to a finite user base (the university students) which will predominately be made up of users uniquely identifiable as first.last name (1.6% collision). I think it would be serious over-engineering for this situation to try to program for every possible conflict (including non-western characters). Auto-add the middle initial, treat any remaining conflicts with a tie-breaker and deal with non-western names on a case by case basis. The real key is to establish in the policy that a user can request a new email alias if the default address does not represent their true name.

Comment: Re:Ban is dumb (Score 1) 1080

by Zape (#41450765) Attached to: Light Bulb Ban Produces Hoarding In EU, FUD In U.S.

I would much rather see a labeling requirement if the government sees a need to interfere with the free market. Inform the consumers, rather than baby-sitting them. Bulb packagaing could be required to print, in an appropriate size, the 5-year average cost of purchasing and using the bulbs(including power and replacements). Add in actual lumen output and consumers can make informed decisions and the market could properly adjust over time.

Consumers should be able to decide if they really want to pay $3.00 for a 6 pack of bulbs they will spend $100 using, or if they want to go ahead and pony up $8 for CFLs with a 5 year cost of $20. I think the incandescent bulbs would die off pretty quickly(except for the niche applications where they are needed). Of course, they could get 6 of the L Prize Philips for $150, but the cost/benefit isn't quite there yet, and the market that wants those is currently buying them.

Ensuring consumers are informed is one of the best uses of government. Limiting freedoms, one of the worst.

The Almighty Buck

EA Flip-Flops On Battlefield: Heroes Pricing, Fans Angry 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-your-money-where-your-gun-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kuchera from Ars Technica is reporting that EA/DICE has substantially changed the game model of Battlefield: Heroes, increasing the cost of weapons in Valor Points (the in-game currency that you earn by playing) to levels that even hardcore players cannot afford, and making them available in BattleFunds (the in-game currency that you buy with real money). Other consumables in the game, such as bandages to heal the players, suffered the same fate, turning the game into a subscription or pay-to-play model if players want to remain competitive. This goes against the creators' earlier stated objectives of not providing combat advantage to paying customers. Ben Cousins, from EA/DICE, argued, 'We also frankly wanted to make buying Battlefunds more appealing. We have wages to pay here in the Heroes team and in order to keep a team large enough to make new free content like maps and other game features we need to increase the amount of BF that people buy. Battlefield Heroes is a business at the end of the day and for a company like EA who recently laid off 16% of their workforce, we need to keep an eye on the accounts and make sure we are doing our bit for the company.' The official forums discussion thread is full of angry responses from upset users, who feel this change is a betrayal of the original stated objectives of the game."
Programming

The State of Ruby VMs — Ruby Renaissance 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-your-pick dept.
igrigorik writes "In the short span of just a couple of years, the Ruby VM space has evolved to more than just a handful of choices: MRI, JRuby, IronRuby, MacRuby, Rubinius, MagLev, REE and BlueRuby. Four of these VMs will hit 1.0 status in the upcoming year and will open up entirely new possibilities for the language — Mac apps via MacRuby, Ruby in the browser via Silverlight, object persistence via Smalltalk VM, and so forth. This article takes a detailed look at the past year, the progress of each project, and where the community is heading. It's an exciting time to be a Rubyist."
Businesses

EA Shuts Down Pandemic Studios, Cuts 200 Jobs 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-goodnight-folks dept.
lbalbalba writes "Electronic Arts is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work. 'The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.' An ex-developer for Pandemic attributed the studio's struggles to poor decisions from the management."
Games

Dev Discusses Upcoming Spy-MMO, The Agency 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-could-tell-you-but-then-i'd-have-to-gank-you dept.
Kheldon writes "The MMO Gamer recently sat down with Lorien Gremore, lead producer on SOE's upcoming spy-shooter MMO, The Agency. They discussed various aspects of its development, such as the 'stickiness' of session-based games, striking a balance between FPS and MMO players, and whether or not The Agency even falls under the definition of a traditional MMO at all. 'You might be in Prague, and experiencing play with a lot of different other players; you might have come in at your field office and gone out into the city, encountering many other players doing missions that you are also doing,' Gremore said. She added that the game's areas are large enough to have 'lots of different people in them, collecting intel, engaging in public combat, all of those types of things. These areas are big enough that there’s shops, there’s secret spaces, photos to be taken of suspicious objects, things like that. They’re all out there in the world. We’re really trying to create a balance, where you’re encountering a lot of social situations, chances to get into groups with other people, just by merit of the fact that you guys are doing the same sorts of things in the same sorts of places.'"
Robotics

Flying Micro-Robot Takes Off 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-on-the-wall dept.
AndreV writes "A University of Waterloo in Ontario engineering research team has developed the world's first flying micro-robot capable of manipulating objects for micro-scale applications, which include micro-assembly of mechanical components, handling of biological samples and even microsurgery. It moves around and manipulates objects with micro-grippers, remotely controlled by a laser-focusing beam (heating the pincers with a laser opens them; when the laser is turned off, they cool and close). Its magnetic drive mechanism controls the field using continuous feedback from positioning sensors in order to position the 'bot. 'It can enter virtually any space and can be operated in a sealed enclosure by a person outside,' the project leaders says, 'which makes it useful for handling bio-hazardous materials or working in vacuum chambers and clean rooms.' The video of the contraption shows it floating in mid-air."
Transportation

Tesla CEO Says Gov't Loan Is 99% Sure and Deserved 652

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-piece-of-the-pie dept.
N!NJA writes "Two major themes of our time — the desire to achieve energy independence and the furor over public bailouts — have collided in the drama surrounding swanky electric carmaker Tesla. Late last year, a New York Times column whipped Silicon Valley innovators and bailout-weary taxpayers into a frenzy. Valley professor and writer Randall Stross wrote that Tesla was hoping for government money to produce its cars, which only the very wealthy could afford. It wasn't exactly true, since the loan was intended to produce the $50,000 Model S sedan, not the $109,000 Roadster. Still, Stross called it a risky, waste of taxpayer money that would only benefit the wealthy and bailout VCs who'd sunk money into the money-losing company. Never mind, Tesla has developed two cars on less than $200 million — compared to the $1 billion General Motors spent developing the now-deceased EV1."

Comment: Bytes Brothers (Score 1) 962

by Zape (#26078991) Attached to: Best Introduction To Programming For Bright 11-14-Year-Olds?

For children in that age range the Byte Brother books (A series along the lines of the Old Encyclopedia Brown books from the mid-80s) might actually be a good tool for such a class. The series follows a pair of brothers using Basic to solve various challenges in each book (from whether a train operator is lying to how many marbles are in a jar). In truth, you can solve the problems with just a calculator and some algebra, but the books show solving the problems in Basic. The first book in the series is "The Bytes Brothers Input an Investigation" and is apparently available on Amazon.

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