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Mars

4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-look dept.
SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."
Google

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-and-forever dept.
sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
The Media

What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the one-trillion-dollars dept.
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"

Comment: List of One-Handed Wii and PC Games (Score 1) 221

by raving griff (#41424303) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Gaming With Only One Hand?

In case you decide to pick up a Wii, the following games can be played with only the Wii Remote (based on my own collection):

Mario Kart Wii (designed for two hands but playable with one)

Wii Sports (most mini-games can be played with one hand)

Wii Sports Resort (again, most can be played with one hand)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (downloadable only)

Dead Space Extraction (if memory serves me; I no longer own it)

Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

Zack and Wiki (if memory serves me)

Trauma Center: New Blood (if memory serves me)

In addition to these, a number of downloadable "WiiWare" titles can be played one-handed, and if you can get used to playing simple games with the controller horizontal (i.e. reaching across the controller for the buttons with the same hand that is using the d-pad), you should be able to play just about any NES game on the Wii's store, as well as many Genesis games. New Super Mario Bros might also be feasible, but you would need some way to shake and rotate the controller.

Some one-handed PC games (generally mouse-only) include:

Aquaria

Audiosurf

Chime

Droplitz

Greed Cord

Machinarium

Osmos

Torchlight

Torchlight II

Good luck finding something that works for you!

Comment: Re:What is the point of gaming consoles? (Score 1) 249

by raving griff (#39767549) Attached to: Most Game Console Power Draw Comes From Time Spent Idling

I agree on that count; the principle is the same. However, while movie publishers have succeeded in getting most businesses to cooperate with a 28-56 day wait period before renting, game publishers have not been able to negotiate something similar for used games.

Comment: Re:First sale doctrine? shill much? (Score 1) 249

by raving griff (#39767511) Attached to: Most Game Console Power Draw Comes From Time Spent Idling

That is a very fair argument and is certainly true for books purchased and used for personal use; however, working at a library, I have found that maintaining the condition of the books there is a major expense. Books that pass through many hands have a shelf life ranging from 40-60 years in most cases. Antique books have to have special sheets inserted between pages to preserve the ink, and most of the collection that is pre-1940 has been rebound.

Additionally, a look at Amazon, Abebooks, or any other used book seller will show you that there is a huge difference in price between a book in good condition and one in bad condition; similar trends can be seen in games, but the difference is much less pronounced.

I was not aware that First Sale Doctrine was established on a case about books; you have prompted me to make additional research.

Comment: Re:What is the point of gaming consoles? (Score 4, Informative) 249

by raving griff (#39764923) Attached to: Most Game Console Power Draw Comes From Time Spent Idling

The last Resident Evil game on the DS even had no ability to delete a saved game, effectively making the game one play per sale.

Second to last, actually. This is an important distinction because the game you are talking about, Resident Evil Mercenaries, is an arcade-style action game, where the only actual progress to be deleted is earning high scores and unlocking additional levels and characters. The most recent Resident Evil game for the 3DS, Resident Evil Revelations, is a story-based experience and does offer the option to delete save files.

The first-sale codes are a little more controversial in the gaming blagosphere. No publisher has denied a single-player experience to players who do not use the included code, but multiplayer and downloadable content is often tied to it. For some games, this is not a big deal, but for others, multiplayer is a major component of the game. However, the codes are not "darn close" to the MSRP; the MSRP of new games is typically $60, with used games going for $40-$55. The codes sell for $10-$20, with the goal of making the price used (with all multiplayer and DLC in tact) the same as the price of a new game, thus encouraging gamers to purchase a new game.

There is an interesting debate concerning whether what EA is doing is ethical or not. On one hand, we have the First Sale Doctrine, which guarantees the reselling of used products and might(?) be violated by EA's first-sale codes. However, the First Sale Doctrine was created with things like houses and automobiles in mind--things that naturally tend to lose value over time, due to wear and tear, or things that maintain value only if money is spent on repairs and renovations. Thus the decrease in value is tied to its use.

Software, on the other hand, does not depreciate in value in the same way. While the physical media--box, manual, and disc--are vulnerable to wear and tear, the bulk of a game's value comes from the game itself, which comprises of the software on the disc. In general, the game either works or it doesn't; a game will hold full value as a game until the disc breaks, at which point it will hold virtually no value.

What this leads to is a used market dependent entirely on the game's popularity. Games that are less popular suffer a multiplied loss: less copies will be sold new, and, because the price difference between used and new is so great, a higher percentage of copies will be sold used, further hurting its sales. The invisible hand certainly has something to say about the justice of unpopular games causing losses, but in an industry as young as gaming, any factors that increase the risk associated with developing a game (typically over 2-5 years, costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars) can be seen as negatively impacting the development of games as an art form. (Recently, independent games made on small budgets in far less time, have become prolific; they often represent the riskiest, most innovative, and in some cases, most artistic expressions in gaming.)

Is it fair for games to be subject to a popularity multiplier? Maybe. However, the gaming industry is a different framework than what the first-sale doctrine was established for. I realize I have been playing the devil's advocate throughout most of this comment, but I believe the issue needs to be explored with hard economics before we can draw strong opinions on whether it is right or not for publishers to discourage the sale of used games. It is possible that the used games industry puts games into the hands of far more people, improving its legitimacy as an art form, but it is also possible that used games are a primary factor pushing publishers towards sticking to established franchises and neglecting innovation in favor of reliable sales.

Cellphones

In Rural UK, Old 2G Phones Beat 3G Smarphones For Connectivity 88

Posted by timothy
from the old-ways-are-best-ways dept.
hypnosec writes "A new research has showed that smartphones are worse in connectivity than 2G enabled mobile phones in remote areas in the United Kingdom. The research conducted by telecom watchdog OfCom has revealed that users should invest in mobile phones different than latest Smartphones, if they prioritize best reception for calls. 'As would be expected, all the 2G operators have widespread coverage of the roads that were surveyed with relatively few not-spots. 3G coverage is much lower on the roads driven, likely reflecting the stage of network roll out in Devon at the time of the study,' the OfCom has reported."

Comment: Facebook as an "Identification Badge" (Score 4, Insightful) 60

by raving griff (#36650050) Attached to: Facebook Connect Exposes Hulu User Data

This is why it worries me that Facebook is increasingly becoming a sort of ID badge for the internet--many blogs, for example, now support Facebook Connect as the primary (or only!) way to comment; social networking games (even ones living outside of Facebook) urge or even force users to connect their accounts, etc.

What control do I retain over my own information? For some sites, sure, it's useful to be able to authenticate my login info with one click (assuming my Facebook is logged in) and it's nice to have a populated friends list for applications such as online games so I know who I can play with, but for some sites (Hulu included), I don't want to give my name, profile picture, and friends list up.

I use a different, strong password for all of my accounts online, so a website I visit being compromised by hackers doesn't concern me much, but if a flaw in implementation of the Facebook Connect API can leak any information that Facebook gives them out to other people (and potentially out to hackers), I could be facing some serious issues.

A name and friend list forms a unique thumbprint for my identity that can contribute to identity theft. Hell, I have even seen Facebook hacks that clone your profile and friend your entire friends list--sort of the reverse of having your profile hacked and having to create a new one.

Bottom line: Facebook has information that I barely trust Facebook to handle, much less other websites, and the use of the Facebook Connect API by a site can have dangerous consequences for its users.

Comment: Re:I don't agree with his argument about $0 entry (Score 3, Insightful) 101

by raving griff (#36546566) Attached to: Thinking of Publishing Your Own $0.99 Kindle Book?

And how are books with worthy content noticed within the sea of crap? Barring advertising (which in this case comes directly out of the author's pocket), the only way I can see a book standing out based entirely on its contents merit is in a niche field, like the Ubuntu books in the example, where there are few enough books that ones of high quality rise to the top quickly as there is little competition.

However, in any more general areas / genres (for example, literary fiction), the sea of crap is so large that worthy content takes much longer to recognize. A lower initial momentum means lower ratings and a much lower chance to succeed in the market as a whole.

The only way to guarantee worthy work to rise above the crap is to guarantee each book a test audience--allowing it to launch with several Amazon reviews and be seeded according to an aggregate measure of quality. Otherwise, whether or not worthy content is noticed is pure luck made less likely the more crowded the market becomes.

The Military

Disney Seeks Trademark On 'Seal Team 6' 254

Posted by timothy
from the too-soon? dept.
The Grim Reefer2 writes "MediaBistro has learned that the Walt Disney Company has applied for a trademark on the phrase 'Seal Team 6,' the name of the special forces unit that killed the world's most wanted man. Disney now owns the exclusive rights to put Seal Team 6 on 'clothing, footwear, headwear, toys, games and entertainment and education services.' Disney made the move only two days after bin Laden's death was announced." According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, "this is not the first time a company has trademarked SEAL Team 6. Previous owner NovaLogic, Inc., abandoned two associated trademarks in 2006. Those trademarks focused on computer and video gaming."

Comment: From TFA: (Score 4, Interesting) 371

by raving griff (#36123964) Attached to: Disorderly Conduct Charge for Offensive Classmate Ratings

"The teenager is believed to be responsible for a list that ranked 50 female students — using racial slurs and ratings of body parts — that circulated around the school and on Facebook, police said. The teen is accused of handing out hard copies of the list Jan. 14 at various lunch periods and posting a copy online, according to police."

This list was spread both through Facebook and throughout the school. Is it valid to address this as an online harassment case when the article does not even make clear which distribution method the teenager is being charged with disorderly conduct for?

IOS

Apple Discusses iOS Privacy Issues Before Congress 132

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it-was-an-accident-we-swear dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier today, Apple's VP of software technology, Guy L. 'Bud' Tribble appeared before a congressional hearing on mobile privacy to address concerns that were first brought to the forefront following the 'location tracking' controversy that emerged a few weeks ago."

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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