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Comment Re:Kinda dissagree (Score 5, Interesting) 235

It's complex. I've known two people who have seriously messed up their lives as a result of excessive gaming and one who came close (but pulled back at the last minute). I've known a lot more people who fouled up their lives for other reasons.

The two I knew who seriously messed up their lives were friends from my university days who managed to get so heavily into the QuakeWorld/Quake 3 online scene that they failed their exams at the end of their second year and were thrown out (my university didn't "do" second chances). One of them went into the workplace without a degree (and is doing more or less ok now, almost 15 years later, though probably not in the field he wanted to be in) while the other enrolled at another university and came damned close to flunking out a second time (but scraped graduation and is now a teacher, so draw your own conclusions).

The near-miss was more recent. A friend I've known for about a decade got so heavily into an MMO last year that it started to affect his attendance and performance at work. A few of us spotted what was happening and did a bit of an "intervention" (god, I hate that term, but I can't think of a better one). The immediate result was a week long sulk - but after that, he realised the danger he was in and pulled back from the edge.

Thing is, though, I'm not ultimately convinced that "gaming" was a unique factor in either of those cases. In both cases, I think the social obligations that existed around gaming were a bigger factor. The Quake-pair weren't just playing the game; they were heavily involved in the competitive scene and had weekly practice and event schedules imposed on them by their clans. They both knew (one more than the other, perhaps) that they should be playing less, but didn't have the experience or maturity to tell their clan-mates when enough was enough. The MMO-player was, as he later admitted, more or less hating the game, but was so bound into his guild's hierarchy and structure that he felt he couldn't stop playing (or even cut back) for fear of letting other people down. So it wasn't so much video-game addiction as it was a kind of social entrapment.

Thing is, I've also seen people mess up their lives even more spectacularly for non-gaming reasons. In my first "grown up" job, one of my colleagues was into mountaineering. Seriously so. He'd take months of unpaid leave each year to go on expeditions. He'd done a couple of Himalayan 8,000ers as well as a whole load of peaks in Alaska and the Andes. And over time, it destroyed his life. His marriage fell apart, he lost contact with his son and, when redundancies came around at the office, he was the first one out the door; his lengthy absences meant that people had gotten used to doing without him, so he wasn't able to pull the "look indispensable" trick.

Another guy I was at university with ended up not just flunking out of his course but also winding up tens of thousands of GBP in debt. How? Poker. He convinced himself that as an "elite" maths student, he would be able to clean up. Turns out he couldn't. He ended up hopelessly addicted and throwing good money after bad.

I've also seen people wreck their lives through mundane and even unpleasant stuff. One guy I worked with got so drawn into work for the building management committee for the apartment block he lived in that it took over his life to the point he was spending most of the working day on it - and again, he was out the door at the first whiff of redundancies. He always told people that he was only doing it because he felt people were depending on him...

People are remarkably adept at finding ways to wreck their own lives and will use any tool at hand to do so. Games can be one of those tools and there certainly seem to be some people with a high general propensity to addictive behaviour who will be especially prone to gaming addiction. But for those people, I can't escape the view that if it wasn't gaming that brought them down, it would just be something else.

As for gaming and violence, which is the main point of TFA... meh. For me, gaming has always been stress relief and a harmless outlet for violent impulses.

There might be a separate issue around imitative behaviour in certain cases. That friend I mentioned before who ended up a teacher (and who many not, I grant you, be the most objective judge) takes the view that the only games which cause a problem in school are the 2d fighting games (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and the like) because of the dumber kids trying to imitate them and hurting themselves or somebody else. But I can imagine that potentially being just as true for, say, martial arts movies. He tells me he has far more problems with "collectible" non-video games (i,e. trading cards and the like), where disputes over theft and ownership are much more likely to escalate into violence.

Comment Re:Just a fucking game (Score 4, Interesting) 223

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) 270

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.

Science

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures In 2015 (nasa.gov) 507

vikingpower writes: Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much. The British Met office also reports on the same phenomenon, even forecasting that global temperatures are very soon going to reach the one-degree-Celsius marker. According to Stephen Belcher, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, "We've had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we're set to reach the 1 C marker and it's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory."

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.

Technology

Help Is On the Way In the War Against Noisy Leaf Blowers 228

HughPickens.com writes: Perry Stein writes in the Washington Post that the fight against noisy leaf blowers is gaining momentum, in part, because residents are framing it as a public health issue. Two-stroke engine leaf blowers mix fuel with oil and don't undergo a complete combustion, emitting a number of toxins, like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, which their operators inevitably inhale. Municipalities throughout the country have moved to ban them. "You find two-stroke engines in poorer countries because they're cheap," says James Fallows citing a 2004 National Institutes of Health study showing that two-stroke engines on two- and three-wheeled vehicles in Delhi, India, account for a significant amount of air pollution. "You don't find them in richer countries because they're so dirty and polluting." In Washington DC leaf blowers can't exceed 70 decibels as measured from 50 feet away. (A normal conversation is typically about 60 decibels.) Haskell Small, a composer and concert pianist who is helping to lead the leaf-blower battle in Wesley Heights, describes the sound as "piercing." "When I try to compose or write a letter, there is no way for me to listen to my inner voice, and the leaf blower blanks out all the harmonic combinations."

But help is on the way. A new generation of leaf blowers is more environmentally friendly as the emergence of battery-powered leaf blowers takes us closer to the Holy Grail of equipment that is both (1) powerful and (2) quiet. Fallows supports the notion of a kind of trade-in program, where loud, old leaf blowers are exchanged for the less offensive kind. Ted Rueter, founder of Noise Free America, facilitated one such scheme. In the heat of his front lawn dispute with his neighbor, he offered a solution. "If you agree to use them, I will buy you two new leaf blowers," Rueter told his neighbor. "The offer was accepted and the noise level in his front yard was restored to a peaceful level," says Lawrence Richards. "When it comes to the balancing act of protecting landscaping jobs while reducing noise and emissions, it helps that someone was willing to pay for progress."

Submission + - Peak Oil Predictions Proven Wrong (battleswarmblog.com)

Nova Express writes: Remember how some economists and environmentalists confidently predicted "peak oil" sometime in the 2000s? (Slashdot ran numerous stories on the idea.) It turns out that those predictions of peak oil were wrong. Thanks to improved technology, fracking, shale oil, and declining demand, the world is now going through an oil glut that has prices down around $30 a barrel. "Once again the market has proven much better at adaptation than erroneous neo-Malthusian thinking. Anyone telling you they know exactly how things will unfold should be treated with severe skepticism. The future’s not ours to see."

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.

GNU is Not Unix

The FSF Is 30 Years Old; Where Should They Go From Here? (fsf.org) 231

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation is conducting a survey to gather feedback on where they should be focusing their efforts over the next five years. Should they concentrate on IP issues, UX issues, or something else? Is their stance on Free Software versus Open Source a battle that's already lost, and should they compromise? What do users think an ideal world would look like in 2020? And how miserable could things get? Without the FSF (and GNU), today's computing landscape would sure look a lot different.

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