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Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 582

As has been pointed out already, the real lesson is not about socialism but about how East Germany's planned economy was so screwed up that the only way to get anything done was to cheat - whether by paying the right people for unofficial services or just by having relatives in the West who were willing to bring over some stuff that could be freely purchased in the West but required several years of patient waiting to obtain in the East.

So yeah, life in East Germany did make people more likely to break the rules but the reason for that is just that East Germany was a deeply dysfunctional state where only cheaters prospered. (Socialism played a role there but presumably it should be possible to have a planned economy without running it in the absurdly stupid way East Germany did.)

Comment: Re:Blame the Players, not the Game (Score 2) 126

by Jesus_666 (#47493205) Attached to: Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy
Prep time is useful but not necessary. In fact, so is a GM. I've been in fun adventures where we had neither a GM nor a fixed plot. Not quite as great as a proper campaign but fun nonetheless and very quick to set up. Now, there are games where you need a GM who plans things out in advance - Shadowrun, for instance; at least if you play it the usual way with legwork and so on. But if you don't do anything that requires meticulous advance planning you can really just pick characters, have someone come up with an initial situation and make the rest up as you go, passing GM duty from player to player as people come up with an interesting direction to move the story to.

Now, I can't say I've done that with D&D; being German I prefer The Dark Eye*. But we did do it with a few systems including TDE, Shadowrun and a weird TDE/Shadowrun/Star Wars/Exalted/homebrew crossover game where we constantly had to translate back and forth between systems. Good times.

tl;dr: Roleplaying can take a lot of prep time but if you're willing to have a more chaotic experience you can do without it - and even without a GM.


* D&D doesn't even have crucial skills like Pottery, Housekeeping or Crystal Growing. It's a wonder anyone can get any adventuring done with that system.

Comment: Re:Congratulations? (Score 1) 588

by Jesus_666 (#47464845) Attached to: Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman
I'm really not invested in this as I'm not really a dedicated comic book reader but to me it doesn't look like a big deal. Somewhat bewildering but not a big deal.

In-universe the case is clear: It's not the same character, just like whoever came after Bruce Wayne wasn't the same Batman. They slapped the name onto someone else and that's it. Of course it's kinda weird how they retained the name as I thought that "Thor" was the original Thor's given name but then again my knowledge of Marvel's Thor comes from that one movie and a Hostess Cupcakes ad. Might've been a title all along.

On the meta level it's a transparent attempt to rejuventate a series Marvel apparently felt was no longer generating enough interest. It's not really different from breaking Batman's spine or disbanding/reforming the X-Men. In essence it's a soft reboot without having to toss away the continuity, which is something best reserved for a crossover. Blatant pandering in this case, yes, but nothing particularly unusual.

As for screwing with Norse mythology: Didn't they do that all along? I mean, old Thor was already a space alien if I remember correctly.


Seriously, to me this seems like business as usual. Thor was replaced by a woman. In other news, Wolverine has teamed up with someone.

Comment: Re:KeePass? (Score 4, Informative) 114

by Jesus_666 (#47449773) Attached to: Critical Vulnerabilities In Web-Based Password Managers Found
You can always try KeePassX (for Linux and OS X; use the latest 2.0 Alpha release) and MacPass (for OS X), both of which are compatible with the KeePass 2.x database format. They might not have all the features but they work rather well and you don't have to deal with the monstrosity that is KeePass on a non-Windows system.

Comment: Re:All smart watches suck (Score 1) 242

by Jesus_666 (#47366911) Attached to: Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch
Microsoft's hardware isn't all bad - just think of their human interface devices, which are highly esteemed. Their reputation with mobile devices is much spottier, though, with the Zune probably being one of the better ones. Their smartwatch might be good (especially since they bought Nokia's mobile devices division who know how mobile devices work) but on the other hand Microsoft does have a history of shooting themselves in the foot with anything that fits in your hand but isn't a peripheral. That makes it easy to crack a few jokes about the device.

If Microsoft indeed does as you say (I don't know, I'm not in the market for a smartwatch) then I think the brainpower behind the watch comes more from Nokia than from Microsoft proper. Not that that's a bad thing. If Microsoft defers to its ex-Nokia engineers when it comes to mobile devices that's probably better for Microsoft Mobile, Microsoft prime and the quality of their mobile products. I, for one, would welcome more competent mobile competition from Microsoft. Competition is good.

And, for the record, I don't hate Microsoft's mobile products. I find them amusing because historically they have been the mobile market's comic relief character but I don't hate them.

Comment: Re:Perl still works, and PHP is fine (Score 3, Insightful) 536

PHP is the boring, reliable choice. It's popular enough that it's probably still going to be mainstream in twenty years. The ease of entry means a steady stream of neophytes who end up checking out PHP at their first web language.

It's not a pretty language but you can be reasonably certain that for the forseeable future it's going to stay. It's nowhere near as nice as Ruby on Rails or Python/Django but it does have a huge market share so there's both relatively many people who speak it and a lot of ready-to-use code, from snippets to frameworks.

The huge amount of available code is a bit of a mixed bag, though - PHP attracts a lot of entry-level coders and in many cases it shows. On the one hand you have things like Twig (a clone of Django's template engine) that are a delight to work with; on the other hand you have things like most WordPress plugins, which consist of barely-working code written by someone who thinks that "model-view-controller" involves Kate Moss staring at a gamepad. The fact that PHP makes it easy to write code that is wrong but still runs doesn't help here.

PHP has flaws. A lot of them. It's a pretty annoying language to work with. But it's not going to fade away anytime soon and that is its strength. If that makes it desirable to you then PHP is a reasonable choice. If it doesn't you might want to stay with Perl or take a look at trendier languages like Ruby, Python or JavaScript.

Comment: Re:All smart watches suck (Score 3, Funny) 242

by Jesus_666 (#47361669) Attached to: Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch
It'd probably have a 5" display, quadrophonic sound and an octacore CPU and run an unmodified Windows RT. Due to weight concerns most of the battery had to be sacrificed, limiting its life to an etimated fifteen minutes - but no other smartwatch has both Office and HDMI and you can always use the USB port to hook it up to an external power source if you want to use it on the go. You see, Microsoft gets mobile devices.

Or they decide they actually want to make money and release a generic Android-based smartwatch. Their Nokia arm doesn't seem too hung up about reinforcing the Windows hegemony if it gets in the way of business.

Comment: Re: Seriously? (Score 1) 196

by Jesus_666 (#47345483) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level
Sennheiser has a lot of stuff on the market. You can get a pair of Sennheisers for twenty bucks. They won't be terribly good but they're actually a decent stepping stone if you want to get people off five $CURRENCY supermarket specials without scaring them off with a huge price tag.

Now, there are great budget earphones. If you like in-ear monitors you might want to try some from Visang/Brainwavz or VSonic. Both companies tend to punch above their weight in terms of sound quality while having reasonable prices.

Comment: Re:Dammit (Score 1) 164

by Jesus_666 (#47255877) Attached to: Endurance Experiment Writes One Petabyte To Six Consumer SSDs
I used to say that SSDs aren't mature yet and cost way too much. These days I find that most of the technical issues I have with them have been addressed, the sole remaining one being that HDDs tend to have kinder failure modes. SSDs have come of age and are desirable even to a relatively conservative buyer like me.

Now if I could only justify the price... (The only computer where an SSD would be relevant for me is a laptop with a 500 GB HDD that typically sees heavy load. An SSD that fits my storage requirements would put a serious dent in my finances. Oh well, perhaps next year.)

Comment: Re:Interesting! (Score 1) 50

by Jesus_666 (#47241221) Attached to: <em>OpenXcom</em> 1.0 Released
Apoc wasn't that bad. It was flawed but still enjoyable, although I think that some of the cut content would've made it even better (like tracking down people to uncover alien infiltration attempts). The premise was silly but I do like the gameplay. Plus, there were these sublime moments like when you realized that your desperate tactic of throwing swarms of hoverbikes at the UFOs was actually pretty effective. Overall it might not have been quite as good as the first one but it was still good.

Now, Interceptor and Enforcer; those games were horrible. I wholeheartedly agree with you there.

Comment: Re:Xenonauts also released (Score 1) 50

by Jesus_666 (#47241131) Attached to: <em>OpenXcom</em> 1.0 Released
I'm pretty curious how Xenonauts turned out. I bought it during the early stages of development (back when it was more "crowdfunding" than "early access") and the last version I played was an alpha where the game would crash if your soldiers tried to pick up alien guns. I remember the ground combat being good but the interception minigame being pretty annoying.

It'll be interesting to see what has changed since then.

Comment: Re:Or... (Score 1) 50

by Jesus_666 (#47239937) Attached to: <em>OpenXcom</em> 1.0 Released
You mean something like no more Groundhog Day bug, native multiplatform support, mod support, tons of bugfixes, a replacable soundtrack (with Amiga and PSX and Cydonia's fall, oh my!), three-dimensional explosions, no more Groundhog Day bug, all sorts of XcomUtil-type fixes/mods optionally available, TFTD-style battlescape controls (like being able to open doors without walking through them), strafing, radar ranges displayed on the geoscape, Apocalypse-style persistent soldier equipment, no more Groundhog Day bug...

And did I mention that they added support for shotguns? Because they added support for shotguns. They're fun.

Seriously; the original XCOM was great but OpenXcom makes it better. If you think about starting up DOSBox to run the original try OpenXcom instead. You'll like it. (And no, I'm not affiliated with the project; the closest I came to that was to think about a mod that completely replaces the aliens' equipment. Because the world needs space AK-47s. Alas, I lack the time.)

Comment: Re:3D-printing cancer (Score 2) 69

How do our normal organs keep from gworing anarchically and without limits? They'd presumably try to use the same mechanism for their new organs. As for the immune system, perhaps they could base the organs off the recipient's DNA (such as through stem cells), which would make rejection less likely. It'd be expensive as hell, though. I do agree that we'll take some time getting there.

Another interesting question would be that of failure modes. What happens if your fancy new electric pancreas gets infected or develops cancer? This could make operations rather interesting and lead to some unusual new medical conditions. Nothing insurmountable, I'm sure, but medicine would become more complex when these things are involved.

Comment: I'm not sure... (Score 1) 69

I mean, on the one hand we're facing the infinite power of bio-augmentation but on the other hand we'd be facing a future full of people who have to wear sunglasses because their vision is augmented, not to mention a transitory period where everyone is hooked on anti-rejection drugs except for a few guys who didn't ask for augs anyway. And things go badly we might end up with a near-omnipotent guy in the antarctic presiding over a world full of forgettable characters and crummy gameplay. What a shame that'd be.

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