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Comment: Re:She has a point. (Score 1, Flamebait) 456

by Dutch Gun (#49600701) Attached to: My High School CS Homework Is the Centerfold

Agreed. There are a bazillion more suitable images one should use nowadays for *technical* reasons to legitimately test compression and processing algorithms. Yes, I'm aware of the history. Not all traditions are worthy of being preserved. Let's move on, and leave it as an interesting historical footnote.

Are people too easily offended by this? Absolutely. After all, the top half of the image is no more risqué than many covers on modern fashion magazine. Some people just don't like the fact that it was an image from a men's magazine, which is naturally associated with a female-hostile work environment. But why go out of your way to offend people when it's really not necessary, and a complete distraction from what you're trying to do anyhow?

Comment: Re:I must be old (Score 2) 79

When you see a tech demo like this, you can generally assume that this is what the next generation of fighting games will at least approach in terms of fidelity and realism. Demos are a tricky thing, because unlike games, you can get away with rendering only the small environment you're currently looking at, and moreover, you can optimize the environment for viewing it only from that limited perspective, making it appear hyper realistic. This is why fighting games tend to look better than just about anything else out there - they're the closest a videogame will ever come to these tech demos in terms of being able to "cheat" like this.

Which games are at the other end of that spectrum? I'd probably have to say MMOs. By necessity, they end up looking a generation behind the latest state-of-the-art for two important reasons: First, naturally, they tend to set the minimum system requirements a bit lower to be more inclusive and attract a bigger customer base. Second, and more importantly, MMOs spend a ridiculous amount of their rendering budget on drawing the large numbers of unique characters on screen at any one time, as well as all the effects that can be fired off by them, and of course, any NPCs in the area, and finally, a typically spawling, open terrain to explore. As such, you can't expect an MMO to look like a AAA single-player game, because the rendering budget is spent in significantly different ways. So, I guess you can expect MMOs to look this good perhaps in another two to three generations.

As a game developer, was I impressed? Well, yeah, as much as I'm impressed by all our modern technology. Nowadays, it's actually pretty easy to sink your entire rendering budget into a single character (or small numbers of characters) and make her look quite impressive - she still looked good though. I was less impressed with the outdoor shots. Short of simple interiors, bare, rocky terrain is the cheapest and easiest type of terrain to build and render with the best looking relative results.

I'd call this a decent, incremental step forward, and I'd say that's a good thing. Radical leaps means everyone has to re-invent their entire production pipelines, and that takes a lot of focus away from where in needs to be, which is first and foremost in creating a fun game. In terms of creating game assets though, the major steps forward that need to be taken are how to build more high-fidelity assets for less - which right now is insanely expensive because it's nearly all hand crafted, and so far have always needed to be re-created entirely from generation to generation.

Comment: Oddly enough... (Score 1) 102

by Dutch Gun (#49600307) Attached to: Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?

I've somehow managed to go my entire career without working on a third party licensed engine. It's always been developed internally by the company I was working for. And even when I went indie, with just me working on my own little game, no commercial engine had the specialized features I wanted, and ended up spending a couple of years writing my own. Plus, I liked the fact that I was able to build my game engine to work exactly the way I wanted it to function.

Using a commercial game engine makes a lot of sense when the game you're developing happens to fall in line with the way those engines are expecting things to work (for instance, a small company making a character-based shooter? You'd be insane to develop your own engine). You need to more or less "drink the kool-aid", as one of my colleagues put it, meaning it's important to work the way the engine developers are expecting you to work.

If you're doing something extremely unusual gameplay-wise that requires some very unusual engine capabilities or stresses the engine in unusual ways, you have to consider the possibility that a commercial engine may end up fighting you and your game's vision, causing your a lot of long-term pain. Moreover, with your own engine, you completely control it's destiny. If you want a feature, or want a specific optimization, or a change in it's behavior, you can make it happen. Technically, you can do this if you have an engine's source code, but doing so puts you on a diverging path with the developers, which is always risky.

Of course, the downside is that creating and maintaining your own engine is a massive engineering cost. You need a dedicated team of engine programmers. That being said, you tend to need *fewer* than a commercial engine, because you can focus specifically on the features needed for your game, rather than all features *possibly* needed.

Anyhow, that's my perspective as a videogame programmer / engine developer. I'm not qualified to discuss the merits of third-party game engines, since I've never used one myself.

Comment: Also it seems to me it might be necessary (Score 1) 102

by Sycraft-fu (#49597739) Attached to: Climatologist Speaks On the Effects of Geoengineering

I guess it depends on who you believe, but there have been climate scientists that have said we are beyond the tipping point, that even if we reduce emissions warming will happen. Ok well if that's true, and if it is true that the warming will be a net harmful thing, then some kind of geo engineering would be necessary. You can't very well say "Reducing CO2 won't fix the problem, but let's do as much of that as we can and only do that and then cry about the problem!"

Comment: Re:Inventions vs. Engineering (Score 1) 59

Apparently, the patent office initially rejects 90% of patents, but that figure is slightly misleading. The patent submitter simply has to rework, rework, appeal, and you can still get it approved. What percentage of patents are *eventually* approved after the resubmissions and appeals? In 2012 that number was calculated at 90% approved!

Moreover, the patent filing fee is kept even if the patent is rejected, and fees are also required to resubmit or appeal. So, there's financial incentive to first reject the patent a few times, perhaps force an appeal, and then finally approve it.

I'm not saying they're strictly considering revenue here, but... yeah, let's face it. The patent examiners would probably get in big trouble if they made it too difficult to file patents and keep those fees coming it.

Comment: Re:"Small time" shoe seller? (Score 1) 59

Manufacturing businesses with fewer than 500 employees are officially categorized as "small businesses" in the US. For some other types of companies like say, computer services, the amount of revenue is used as a metric, with the cut-off being $21 million average receipts for the past three years. The amount varies by the type of business.

Typical government... making a simple thing as whether a company is "small" or not into such a complicated issue.

Comment: Re:Why is is the material support provision bad? (Score 2) 116

It's because there's currently a rather pronounced backlash against all anti-terrorist provisions right now, because politicians and three-letter agencies keep using it as a "sky is falling, please cede more of your freedoms, privacy, and dignity to the state" excuse. And people are tired of it.

Yes, punishment for "material support" of terrorism is fine in theory, but only if you trust the government to justly apply that charge. And trust in the government is in short supply these days, at least among some demographics.

Comment: Re:Seems he has more of a clue (Score 1) 691

by tbannist (#49593769) Attached to: Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics

We might cut the future increases, but cutting to half of current levels? I don't see that happening, you'd need FAR more than a carbon tax to make that happen.

The modest carbon tax in British Columbia has cut emissions in that province by 16% while emissions grew in the rest of Canada by 3% (a rate that likely would have grown higher still if Ontario and Quebec weren't also working to reduce emissions). A carbon tax, by itself, might not reach a 50% reduction, but it could spur changes in consumer behavior. For instance, now that gas prices have fallen again, sales of SUVs are increasing again after declining during our last period of high prices. That's probably a missed opportunity to reduce emissions.

Without a carbon tax, the United States is aiming at (and currently looks like it will hit) a target of 20% below 2005 levels. If a carbon tax had been added to the policy, the United States might have been able to hit 40% below 2005 levels, which is not that far from 50%.

Comment: Re: I like this guy but... (Score 2) 430

by tbannist (#49593337) Attached to: Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules

The problem arises when 95% of the population is fooled into voting for a single party with two wings, both of which are working against them.

Frankly, I doubt you understand politics. Despite your claims the parties are different entities although with very similar goals (power and control). In some areas, the policies of the parties are indistinguishable because they are appealing to same people for funding and trying to get same people to vote for them. Both parties need a majority of votes to win so they are by necessity fighting over the same people in the American center.

Frankly, in the current American system, large differences are not sustainable because if the difference loses votes, it will be abandoned and if it gains votes it will be copied or mirrored by the other party. The American system, whether by design or by accident, generates nearly identical parties.

It's not that the parties are the same organization, because they clearly are not, it's that the American political system is so poorly designed that serving the people brings few benefits when compared to playing internal politics for advantages and begging money from sponsors to fund election campagins.

Comment: Re:Only doubles?! (Score 1) 159

by Dutch Gun (#49591785) Attached to: US Switches Air Traffic Control To New Computer System

Okay, shoot, I feel sort of bad now. I thought twenty years was pretty obvious as a joke. Honestly, I have no idea how long this project took.

I've worked on a five year project that easily topped half a million lines of code, maybe more, with well over a hundred developers working on it. And oddly enough, it actually was a videogame (as mentioned later in this thread) - an MMO, which actually shares some characteristics with such a system, I suppose. No one died if the game crashed or calculated something incorrectly, although we certainly took every crash very seriously, especially the game servers. It was still damn hard to get everything working correctly.

It's not unreasonable that an FAA-sponsored project with critical safety tolerances could easily have been a decade in the making or more. I'd say that twenty years, while not out of the realm of possibility, still sounds like an awfully long time though.

Comment: Re:Standardized DRM? (Score 3, Informative) 81

If you look at the Spark workflow ( prominent on the list of features is "copyright protection". How exactly this system goes about deciding what you are and are not allowed to print could be quite significant, especially if Microsoft's market share makes it the de facto standard.

Bleh, after looking into this a bit I think it's even worse than that.

Autodesk is calling this an "open platform", but it's most certainly not "open" in the same way we'd usually talk about more permissive "open source" licenses, such as BSD or Apache. So, it's more of a "free as in beer" sort of open, as far as I can tell. They've got a bunch of cloud-related features that (I think) are intended to facilitate transfer of models from design to manufacturing regions, but it looks like it's all very tightly under Autodesk's control, and they're very clear that they're not giving anyone else any control or licensing rights to the code or platform.

Check out the Spark Terms of Service. Open, my ass. How do you get "open" out of that? They're simply defining open as "anyone can use it if they sign up with us", which is about as "open" as Facebook. I was initially hopeful that this might be a good thing for the 3D printing industry, but all it would do is cede a massive amount of control over the 3D printing process to Autodesk, and I can't see how that's a good thing at all.

Meh. Now I'm sort of hoping this dies.

Comment: Re:We should make it fair. (Score 1) 108

We did this mainly because our teachers were tortured by this when they were kids and it is their turn to torture us. Continuity and circle of life and all that.

Heh, you know that's true! Thanks for sharing. It's always fun to learn about small cultural differences like that which you normally never learn unless you go live and work in another country.

One of these generations I'm hopeful the US will eventually go metric as well, but we seem to be unusually stubborn about that sort of thing.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 2) 108

by Dutch Gun (#49590245) Attached to: Messenger's Mercury Trip Ends With a Bang, and Silence

Until the microbial life we 'forgot' about infects and destroys another local biome (or creates one in the first place)

Who's "we"? Certainly not NASA.

Anything expecting to make contact with another celestial body undergoes sterilization for exactly this reason, which should take care of most organisms. And of course, it would need to survive the trip and eventual impact, as well as then miraculously be adaptable to Mercury's incredibly hostile climate. In this particular case, the probability of native contamination is deemed so low that only a level I (lowest of five levels) decontamination procedure is needed.

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley