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Comment: Extra-black asphalt please (Score 1) 148

by davet2001 (#35583024) Attached to: Help Map Global Light Pollution, By Starlight
This subject is clearly driven by astronomers with a desire to view the night sky. The issue of wasted energy seems only to be mentioned to gather support. This is clear in the first article which suggests using a 'shade' to make street lamps more efficient. A reflector is necessary if you want to get more useful energy out, as an opaque shade will just make your lamp housing hotter. I believe that modern designs do include reflectors now.

The biggest issue being overlooked here seems to be what happens to the light that shines down as intended. This light reflects off things sending light upwards regardless of the lamp design. If you look at the aerial motor race photograph linked below you will notice that most of the light seems to be coming from the track itself, not the lights.
http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/2009/11/aerial-f1-singapore-at-night-by-wong-kin-leong/

Expect astronomers to soon start requesting:
-extra black grades of asphalt
-turning all the lights off whenever possible
-laws against parking white cars under streetlamps

A similar study was done in the late nineties by a UK TV program called tomorrows world where they asked viewers to look through an empty toilet roll at a specific star and count the visible stars around it. The big win was probably the increased interest in astronomy from all the children looking through their 'mini telescopes' rather than the actual data.

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This is the last time I try to comment on slashdot from an iPhone. Apologies for the crappy formatting

Comment: What if IE could be uninstalled? (Score 4, Interesting) 142

by davet2001 (#30852740) Attached to: Microsoft Patches "Google Hack" Flaw In IE
Since I never use IE and never intend to, it's a shame that there's no uninstall option in XP.

Removing IE would save me bandwidth on all the patches and more importantly spare me the forced reboots.

I'd probably find that a lot of rendered local text would stop working without IE such as help pages, but I usually find google more effective than built in help these days any way.

Comment: Re:encrypted data slow? WTF? (Score 1) 275

by davet2001 (#30760830) Attached to: Gmail Moves To HTTPS By Default

Reference please? How would encrypted data travel any different than unencrypted date? Routers don't look at content and the difference in payload sizes is negligible.

This might have to do with compression as well as the key exchange/processing overhead.

I remember my university lecturer explaining that written English text could be compressed down to about 1 bit per character, and this was to do with the fact that patterns of written text are quite common. I would imagine that the same principle holds reasonably true for HTML as well.

Encrypted traffic essentially looks like a sequence of random bytes, so probably requires 7 or 8 bits per character.

I expect that multiple links along the route will try to compress your data to save bandwidth where they can (the first modem being a prime example), and in the case of https, no compression can be done.

Yeah, so if I'm right (sorry, no references), Reading an email could easily be 7-8 times slower over https.

Comment: *Not* telling the story can work too (Score 4, Interesting) 131

by davet2001 (#27873275) Attached to: Storytelling In Games and the Use of Narration
Although it was not mentioned in the original article, some games have been very successful by *not* telling the story, and leaving the player-protagonist to work it out. In Half Life 2, the player wakes up on a train, arriving at 'City 17'. There is very little information about what this is or why he is there. All you know in the first stages is that the environment is very hostile, and there are very few people who help you. You explore a town that has clearly been retrofitted with advanced security beyond it's original architecture, but no-one explains why or by whom. Civilians you meet are mostly in despair or injured, and there are clear signs of recent conflict (ruined homes, destroyed buildings). Most of the time, you can see a huge structure towering in the distance, which seems like a focal point but whether and how you'll get there is a mystery. The result is that you feel (or at least I felt) lost, confused, and quite alone at the start of the game, and intrigued to find out more. This builds up a bond with the character you are playing, and makes the arrival of friendlies (Barney, etc) much more significant. Providing the full setting of the story can detract from the realism, as it provides a perspective on the situation that a real person in the equivalent real-life situation would not have. I can only speculate about the armed forces having never served, but I suspect that in a real life battle, a front line soldier will probably not be aware of the full context of the setting, or it's strategic importance. They just carry out their duties such as a patrol, and all of a sudden one day, there's an explosion and someone starts shooting at them. They then have to figure out what's going on, survive a battle, and most likely only later think about why it all happened. I think there exists a balance between telling the story and not. Give too much information, and the story can become boring. Give too little information, and the player does not feel intrigued to play, and interest can only be sustained with gameplay. When done well, game designers will strike this balance well, and provide a good compromise between narrative, confusion, chaos, and action, all of which can be compelling.

"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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