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Comment: Re:One switch to rule them all? (Score 1) 681

You didn't really answer the question of "what would you have them do". All they have to do is travel back in time to when they were designing their doc format and make it more open? That the new *X formats are so easily opened in other solutions like OpenOffice seems more like a compliment: the whole point of the new formats was to create an open standard that was not vendor-locked. Until time travel is possible that seems like the only/best solution to your complaint of proprietary formatting.

Comment: Re:One switch to rule them all? (Score 1) 681

As far as I know MS was forced to adapt a more open standard of office document. As a commercial entity it's literally their job to continue working on newer versions. What would you have them do? Do a complete re-write of office 2003 and send it to all existing owners for free? That's reasonable? It makes perfect sense to me to put in the new format in the latest version and make it the default for that version. The complaint I do have is Windows default of hiding file extensions and non-useful errors when a user does try to open a DOCX file (although that would be fixed with a patch and apparently most users don't patch Windows/Office anyway).

Comment: Re:One switch to rule them all? (Score 1) 681

Not to say it would be any easier but there is a "2007 compatibility pack" so that office 2003 can read the new formats (xlsx, docx, pptx, etc). As far as I know said pack doesn't come in through windows update so the users would have to track down the package and install it (I think office 2k3 needs its own service 3 for to work as well). Add to that windows annoying habit of hiding file extensions by default and...well lets just say it's a mess (I install the compatibility pack at work several times a month). I don't blame MS for leaving docx as the default for 2007 and later though since that is the best way to make the new "open" format the default/industry standard. Guess it just depends how long non-updated office 2003 holds out. Which I assume will be much longer than XP. For read-only there's always the various Office "viewers" if the compatibility pack is too much.

Comment: Re:Write your name with a pen? (Score 1) 82

I have only just heard of this app so I haven't actually tried it yet. With that in mind I bet you could figure out some hack to make it appear in the pic as if you had written your name when if fact it is just a bit of photography trickery. Something in the physical world to create the illusion in other words. Of course if that were the case I guess people would go to book stores and do this to get free/cheap ebooks. Nobody do that. It was just idea to avoid physically writing in beloved books.

Comment: Existing map editors (Score 1) 254

by keith_nt4 (#47303347) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish

I don't have any gaming programming experience and a lot less programming experience than you do already.

You mentioned a lot of details but failed to mention if you'll be targeting a particular platform. For instance: will you release you game for sale/free? Is a mobile version ever a possibility? Will you release it for the "Windows Store"? Steam? Both? Neither? Is this just a hobbie no one else will ever see? A resume bullet point?

Anyway, speaking not as somebody who has done what your describing but merely as someone who did a lot of research into it I would say go to steam and filter the game list to only "Strategy - RTS" genre and start looking at the ones with both an extensive map editors/mod creator and a fairly large community. Try a few out. Pick a favorite. Make sure it's something you can stick with because it will be consuming thousands of hours of your life. This will probably work better if it's a game you're not that familiar with. Thus your learning the game creation bit along side the actual editor/scripting/programming end of it.

Then at least get a version of your game up and going/playable. After creating the most polished version of your laid out game in your engine of choice if you still want to build an engine from scratch with it...well best of luck to you.


IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation 465

Posted by Soulskill
from the conspiracy-theory-activate dept.
phrackthat writes with an update to Friday's news that the IRS cannot locate two years worth of email from Lois Lerner, a central figure in the controversy surrounding the IRS's apparent targeting of Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. Now, the IRS says there are another six workers for whom the agency cannot locate emails. As with Lerner, they attribute the unrecoverable emails to computer crashes. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller. Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged. ... Lerner’s computer crashed in the summer of 2011, depriving investigators of many of her prior emails. Flax’s computer crashed in December 2011, Camp and Boustany said. The IRS said Friday that technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.

The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the omnipotent-god-computers-will-not-run-your-life dept.
malachiorion writes: "Is machine sentience not only possible, but inevitable? Of course not. But don't tell that to devotees of the Singularity, a theory that sounds like science, but is really just science fiction repackaged as secular prophecy. I'm not simply arguing that the Singularity is stupid — people much smarter than me have covered that territory. But as part of my series of stories for Popular Science about the major myths of robotics, I try to point out the Singularity's inescapable sci-fi roots. It was popularized by a SF writer, in a paper that cites SF stories as examples of its potential impact, and, ultimately, it only makes sense when you apply copious amounts of SF handwavery. The article explains why SF has trained us to believe that artificial general intelligence (and everything that follows) is our destiny, but we shouldn't confuse an end-times fantasy with anything resembling science."

Comment: xampp? (Score 1) 281

"I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"

I'm not nearly the expert as all the other experts here so maybe someone will explain why this is bad idea. If the database is really small enough it could be handled locally with something like MS Access that it may as well be something that be handled with a SQL front end in HTML to add/edit/delete/view the database details. And for this I personally would use XAMPP portable for windows (no installation required instance of apache/mysql/php).

Store it on dropbox (probably symbolic link that folder back to c:\xampp), setup a a robocopy script to syncronize that directory to a thumb drive (etc) every night at midnight or whatever. For something really fancy create a script to compress the directory to zip file with 7-zip every day/week/month/whatever. Perfect. Done. This way you could move the whole thing to a different PC quite easily, a support person could remotely install and login to that dropbox to synchronize over the whole XAMPP installation for troubleshooting, it's backed up, the world seems flush the MySQL people...and XAMPP is mostly or entirely open source stuff/free-as-in-beer. Other than the initial front end work it seems like the easiest/fastest way to get this all done based on the stated requirements.

Comment: Android root toolkit for Linux? (Score 1) 172

by keith_nt4 (#46936143) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

You didn't say directly which OS you're programming on but I'm going to infer it's Linux (common I think with python/open source types). Since one thing I did recently was root my galaxy nexus with the windows-only Wug's Nexus Root Toolkit I would suggest creating something similar to this for Linux. It always seemed strange to me that so many Android rooting tools were windows-exclusive. Doesn't have to be for a galaxy or nexus device obviously, any/all models of android/I'll leave that up to you. This particular root toolkit seems like it would be relatively straight forward to re-create/I don't think it would even take that long and it is actually needed...

I should mention I'm kind of new to android rooting and I have no idea if the equivalent drivers for the various phones exist for Linux as they do for Windows.

Comment: Jerry Seinfeld said it best... (Score 2) 338

by keith_nt4 (#46874675) Attached to: How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

Sorry this really seemed like it had to be inserted in here some place...

e-mail, i like. i don't really like the use of the word mail in e-mail. using the same term that we're using for the postal service. i don't see a lot of overlap between these two systems. one of them occurring in digital fiber optic hyperspace. the other a dazed and confused distant branch of the cub scouts. [ laughter and applause ] bumbling around the street in embarrassing shorts and jackets with meaningless patches and victory medals. driving four miles an hour, 20 feet at a time on the wrong side of a mentally handicapped jeep. [ laughter ] i love how the postal system has this financial emotional meltdown every three to five years that their business model from 1630 isn't working anymore. i can't understand how a a 21st century information system based on licking, walking and a random number of pennies is struggling to compete. what is the reason? [ laughter and applause ] so, they always sent the postmaster general -- he always have to make a big speech about what a tough time that they're having. and he comes out and he's freaked out. he's got rings under the eyes, no shave, pulling all-nighters. we can't do it anymore! we've got to go up a penny on the stamps! there's no way ad ! [ laughter ] we're trying to get some breathing room. the cost and the infrastructure. and we're all like -- hey, dude, do whatever you've got to do. we don't give a damn. what is a stamp anyway? we don't even know what it costs. 43, 48, make it a buck. you're going to get there. you have some money left over, buy yourself some pants and a a real car. [ cheers and applause ] it's like, if i could talk to the post office, if i could say if you really want to be helpful to us, just open the letters. read them and e-mail us what it says! thank you very much!

Comment: Re:hoping that Windows 8 is like Vista,.... (Score 2) 294

For the record NT4 with SP 6 and Internet Explorer...I want to say 4 or 5 I don't remember...was incredibly stable and tough (IE added a few new features for making getting on the internet easier). Could not crash that thing no matter what. It really blew my mind having only ever otherwise used 3.1 and 95 at the time. I used it on my home PC for years. Had the latest directx included until well into windows 2000's life actually. I only switched because I had immediate access to XP (I want to say january 2002). Did a lot of gaming on NT4. I really hated to lose that OS. Little things like...USB support and no free defragmenter utility made it difficult to continue to use. It's kind of a nostalgia thing for me at this point...

Anyway NT4 SP1 and NT4 SP6 may as well be two different operating systems. So be specific when you go labeling different Windows this and that, will ya?

Comment: Re:It has always worked for me (Score 1) 110

by keith_nt4 (#45822885) Attached to: Brain Function "Boosted For Days After Reading a Novel"

I wanted to agree with that workout for your brain comment but in a different context: A few years ago I was participating in "National Novel Writing Month". Normally I don't try to be creative at all (successfully utilizing Linux in a lengthy project not withstanding) but for the 30 days of November I wrote for four hours a day creatively for the whole month (the goal is 50k words in 30 days. I finished in about 27). About two weeks in I started having some really weird/messed up dreams.

I was thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that if my leg or arm muscles have a burning sensation after a work out at the gym or running seven miles it makes just as much sense for the equivalent to happen to this grossly under-utilized region of my brain. Exercising of this "muscle" that doesn't normally get any exercise should result in some equivalent sensation as a result. I mean it makes sense.

This story also made me wonder about this affect int he context of a good, stimulating TV show like the little-known Damages. I've always thought of it as pretty much as close to a "visual novel" as you'll ever see. It wouldn't surprise me if the same study was done to somebody who just watched a season of Damages straight through with no ads showed the same sort of brain activity as those that just finished a book.


How Much Is Oracle To Blame For Healthcare IT Woes? 275

Posted by timothy
from the called-larry-ellison dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The state of Oregon blames Oracle for the failures of its online health exchange. The health-insurance site still doesn't fully work as intended, with many customers forced to download and fill out paper applications rather than sign up online; Oracle has reportedly informed the state that it will sort out the bulk of technical issues by December 16, a day after those paper applications are due. 'It is the most maddening and frustrating position to be in, absolutely,' Liz Baxter, chairwoman of the board for the online exchange, told NPR. 'We have spent a lot of money to get something done—to get it done well—to serve the people in our state, and it is maddening that we can't seem to get over this last hump.' Oregon state officials insist that, despite payments of $43 million, Oracle missed multiple deadlines in the months leading up to the health exchange's bungled launch." (Read more, below.)

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.