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Comment: This is a BS concern. (Score 4, Insightful) 468

by nsxdavid (#48909327) Attached to: Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App

I use Waze virtually every day. It can only be used to spot for cops who are running speedtraps. It doesn't "stalk" them in anyway. It is not very accurate because it relies on someone to note their location, and cops move a lot (say, when they go after a speeder and setup somewhere else or move on with other duties). At best it can bed give you info like "There's been some activity by police looking for speeders around here recently."

If Google caves to this nonsense, I'm going to be very disappointed. And, for the record, never have any reason to use Waze again.

Comment: Not a great comparison to Moby-Dick. (Score 2) 135

by xmark (#47847853) Attached to: New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper

Moby Dick is fiction, but was highly influenced and factually informed by the tragic events and wreck of the whaleship Essex. Melville was consumed by the stories of the surviving crew, and was inspired by them to write Moby-Dick. It's a fictional work immersed in a strong, accurate nonfiction document.

The following book about the Essex is superb, for those with further interest. It won a nonfiction National Book Award. You will stay up very late reading it.

            In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Comment: This guy doesn't know Unity (Score 4, Insightful) 127

by nsxdavid (#47684667) Attached to: Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

I hate to say it, but this Jeff guy is fairly cluesless when it comes to Unity. And is, therefore, in a poor position to give any useful insight into Unity vs. UE4.

My studio (of roughly 27 years) has used a lot of tech in its time. We even developed our own engine, HeroEngine (used in games like Star Wars The Old Republic MMO). We've made lots of games and have lots of experience with Unity. I used Unity to do the Android port of Temple Run, and we've made a lot other titles with it too. We're currently working on a marquee franchise for a major publisher... using Unity.

Unity is not just for small teams. Jeff didn't do his homework on this one. Our team is 27 strong, using git for version control. We use a deep feature-branch approach and it works well not only for our developers, but our non-techies: artists, designers, sound guys, etc. Sure there are issues with Unity and version control, but you find ways to make it work through convention and approach. Same thing happens in all Engines. They all have their issues. The only engine that put collaboration at the forefront was our HeroEngine, but even that has issues. Though we sold off that tech, you can still check it yourself... just Google.

The 32 bit editor limit is true, but is it really an issue? It never has been for us. His problems smell strongly of bad development practices... they can't seem to manage their memory resources well and that suggests other major issues in their group. Just reads a bit amateur to me. No engine will save you from bad practices. The game builds are 64 bit, and the Editor will be also in Unity 5 (how did he not know this?).

It is notable that the guy is fascinated with a lot of things in UE4 that, as it turns out, you can also do as well or even better in Unity. He loves, for instance, Blueprint visual scripting... did he bother to check out uScript for Unity? He loves the node-based Shader in UE4.... well there is ShaderForge in Unity. He loves Physically Based Rendering in UE4 but doesn't mention Alloy in Unity. Sure some of these things are add on costs (usually pretty tiny) and there are also lower cost or sometimes even free alternatives to many of them. The best part is you can mix and match which pieces work best for you. If you don't like UE4's node-based shader... tough! But in Unity you have a few to pick form..... .... or better yet, you can make your own! The best part of Unity is how seamlessly extensible the editor is. This is a huge productivity booster. Every game we do we create custom tools that enhance the efficiency of the designers and artists. It's so easy to do, you just naturally create augmenting tools as the need comes up. Our designers and artists can do amazing things without ever having worry about writing any code... much less even a visual scripting system. This is because we made the tools specific to the game that let them express what they need all from the inspectors and the scene tools.

Another cool thing: make a great addon that is generally useful... then wrap it up and sell it in the Asset Store. Monetize that sucker! Or give it away for free if you like.

Is Unity perfect? Nope. But it is insanely efficient for developing games. Works with any sized team well enough, and creates titles that run across tons of platforms. And the Asset Store is a treasure trove of extensions that just make it better and better all the time.

The places where it falls behind a tad are either addresseable from add ons, and ultimately in Unity 5.

I am not advocating that one choose Unity over UE4... but if you are going to make an argument, at least make a balanced one with all the facts. I would take his critique with a grain of salt. Try each engine yourself, but make sure you take the time to fully understand both the tool and its eco-system and how it applies to what you are doing. And above all, make sure you have sharp developers on your team who understand the fundamentals. Like I said, no tool will get you out of a jam of your own making.

Comment: Re:NASA has become small indeed... (Score 4, Interesting) 108

by xmark (#47497799) Attached to: A Look At NASA's Orion Project

I will join you in the eye roll, but directed to your post.

I assumed anyone reading my OP would understand I was talking about a specific engineering and exploration *project* rolled up from scratch (which is a colloquial term, with the literary license customary for such usage). Take the logic of your post far enough, and I would have to credit Australopithecus for the discovery of fire.

We all, to paraphrase Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants. So too did the engineers at NASA. This should not require further explanation.

Meanwhile, judging by the serial explosive failures of the 50s rocket tech you mentioned, and the weak tea served up by Mercury vs. the superior Russian tech, Apollo did not have the kind of technological base you've implied, anyway.

If you read a good history of the Apollo effort, you'll find that the engineers *desperately* wanted a clean sheet approach. And they got it. Along with a government that cut red tape and cleared the way for them to do what they were there to do.

Those days are gone.

Comment: NASA has become small indeed... (Score 5, Insightful) 108

by xmark (#47497247) Attached to: A Look At NASA's Orion Project

It took 8 years from Kennedy's speech in 1961 to a human on the moon in 1969. Not only did NASA get a moon rocket designed, tested, and launched in that time, it also got an intermediate rocket program (Gemini) designed, tested, and launched prior to the moon program.

From scratch.

Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid. Oh boy, journey to an, umm, space rock. Really stirs the heart, doesn't it? And this after willingly withdrawing from manned spaceflight capacity altogether for at least six years, and counting. Yep, just folding the cards and walking away from the table.

Sure, go ahead and tell me how technically challenging the space rock odyssey will be. But the call of space comes from the same place the call of the sea arose from in the past. To Terra Incognita, where "Here Be Dragons." Sorry, there be no dragons around the space rock.

The technical wizardry missions could and should be handled by robots. Humans should be reserved for missions which stir the soul, or the people who pay for such things (you and me) will stop paying.

It's hard to think of a better demonstration of how the US used to get things done, and how it does things now, than to compare the space program we had 50 years ago to the current version.

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Comment: How is this any different from Fed practice? (Score 3, Interesting) 398

by xmark (#46136431) Attached to: Press Used To Print Millions of US Banknotes Seized In Quebec

Fed doesn't even bother with the paper - just pushes some buttons, and *magically* $4 billion pops out into the system *every day.*

Except they call it Quantitative Easing instead of its actual name, counterfeiting. Cuz they're economists, you know.

Comment: You think that government is apolitical? (Score 5, Insightful) 640

by xmark (#45253137) Attached to: Nebraska Scientists Refuse To Carry Out Climate Change-Denying Study


Everyone has an agenda. Government is the most powerful entity in our mixed society. It is (and has amply proven itself to be) capable of corruption, graft, and political pursuit of goals contrary to the interests of those who are taxed to fund it.

Concentration of power is the problem. Politically, big corporations and big government are a difference without a distinction. They both pursue their own agendas in service to the elites who are stakeholders, and then use propaganda to claim otherwise.

Comment: MUDs are far from gone! (Score 1) 99

by nsxdavid (#43949177) Attached to: Gaming Roots: MUD and the Birth of MMOs

FULL DISCLOSURE: These are products I created and operated by my company. But very relevant.

The term MUD tends to harken back to an earlier time before 'puters had graphical horsepower of any note. But the reality is, online text-based games come in all varieties, and the one's we operate are in a league all their own. More significantly, they are still serious ongoing commercial efforts. If you want to see what a MUD can be when it's been in continuous development, expansion for decades, then check out:

GemStone IV, which began its life as a sequel to GemStone ][ (then called GemStone III just to confuse everyone) first came to existence on the online service GEnie. Eventually it moved to CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy and others. When online services went the way of the doodoo bird, we moved them to the internet machine. DragonRealms is somewhat younger than GemStone, but same sort of history. I began work on it shortly before forming my company Simutronics, something like 27 years ago.

Despite having worked on lots of other types of games, such as mobile titles, and working on other PC/Mac/Linux games of a much more graphical variety now... these text based games remain the corner stone of Simutronics.

Comment: You aren't looking at systemic effects. (Score 4, Insightful) 282

by xmark (#43932655) Attached to: It's Time To Start Taking Stolen Phones Seriously

Yes, the phonemaker gets more revenue. However, the money used to fund those replacements comes from an increased levy on all phone purchasers who have coverage. So everyone with coverage pays more for phones. The extra money that everyone pays for phones means less money spent on all other possible purchases. So Apple's revenue increase is Krogers' or Target's or Shell's decrease.

We usually disregard widely-distributed costs and look at local effects. This is especially true of politicians. But those effects are real and directly affect the aggregate economy numbers.

Comment: I already have a 4K monitor on my computer (Score 2) 286

by nsxdavid (#43882075) Attached to: 4K Computer Monitors Are Coming (But Still Pricey)

I got the SEIKI 4K TV from TigerDirect not long ago. I hooked it up as a 4th (!) monitor. It dwarfs the 3 30" dells I have next to it since, well... it's frikin 50"!

Despite being a lot bigger the pixel density is roughly the same as the 30" Dells which are only 2560x1600. The SEIKI 4K is rocking, obviously the 4K resolution of 3840x2160.

So is it cool?

Kinda of.

The fundamental problem, of course, is that the refresh rate is only 30 hertz. This is driven by the fact that current 1.4 HDMI spec can't push faster than that. So the screen has a soft pulsing. It also tears badly on fast moving things, but this may be a separate issue not related to the TV, not sure. Been messing with my video card to try and solve that. VSync doesn't seem to help, so maybe it is the TV.

Color reproduction is just ... meh. You have to switch modes to get things to look right depending on what you are doing... say work vs. play. Games do look spectacular at the high resolution and the big size. I have the monitor at a normal seated distance, so it's ... immersive. Much like the Rift in that way, but without the nausea and fatbits.

The bottom line is, don't get this TV unless you are a crazy early adopter who just likes cool toys and throws money away to do it. Wait until next year when HDMI 2.0 comes out and more monitor-class 4K units come onto the market. Then, yes... if you are a resolution junkie like I am, get one! Because even in this early form, the promise is quite clear.

Oh, and it impresses friends. Very important point. :)

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan