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Comment: Re:T-mobile pay as you go (Score 1) 200

by santiam (#36284176) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Smartphone Plan For a US Vacation?
Actually I have T-Mobile and live in the Northwest and I would recommend NOT going with T-Mobile if you expect consistent 3G coverage, especially along the coast. I just got back from the Oregon coast and while I can't speak for ATT's coverage, my coverage with T-Mobile was very spotty, and it was there it was usually EDGE.

Comment: Re:Can't you simulate a chemistry set with softwar (Score 2, Informative) 446

by santiam (#33749450) Attached to: Safety Commission To Rule On Safety of Rulers In Science Kits
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) was pretty much knee-jerk reaction to some high-profile toy recalls that occurred in 2007 and 2008. While better standards were needed to protect children, many felt that this act went too far, too quickly and was even too vague for its own good.

The law requires that every batch of every product be tested by a third party for lead and phthalates (which can add up to be very expensive). This means that every time new plastic comes in for a new batch of rulers or they bring in some new paint, or even the metal strip in the ruler, all need to be tested for lead and phthalates. Even if nothing has changed since the last batch.

This law drove many companies out of business and nearly shuttered hundreds more before a last minute extension/clarifications were made early in 2009, I believe. Even some European companies (where the testing is more stringent) stopped importing their toys into the US with the new, higher cost as the reason. I'm not sure if this part has been cleared up or not, but the law also included local craftspeople who carve wooden toys or sew bibs (each piece of pine and each bolt of fabric would have to have been tested for lead and phthalates)

I work in a small, locally owned toy store and before the law science kits have already become much more simple (and boring in my opinion) since I was a kid. I assume this is due to companies concerned about litigation from parents who give a kit designed for a 10-year-old to their "really advanced" 5-year-old. We have discovered that 90% of kids are "advanced for their age" or at least that's what is said about the children when they are being shopped for.

Without granting exceptions to certain components of science kits (and perhaps a few other "toys") they will become even more simple and America will fall further behind the rest of the world in science and math proficiency.
Games

How Game Gimmicks Break Immersion 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-can't-all-be-portal dept.
The Moving Pixels blog has brief discussion of how gimmicky game mechanics often break a player's sense of immersion, making it painfully obvious that he's simply jumping through carefully planned hoops set up by the developers. The author takes an example from Singularity, which has a weapon that can time-shift objects between a pristine, functional state and a broken, decayed state. Quoting: "The core issue with this time control device is that it's just not grand and sweeping enough. It doesn't feel like it's part of a world gone mad. Instead it's just a gameplay tool. You can only use it on certain things in certain places. You can 'un-decay' this chalkboard but not that desk. You can dissolve that piece of cover but not most of the walls in the game. The ultimate failure of such cheap tricks is that they make the game world less immersive rather than more compelling. The world gets divided into those few things that I can time shift, that different set of things I can levitate, and that majority of things that I can't interact with at all. ... I'm painfully aware that all that I'm really doing is pushing the right button at the right place and time. Sure, that's what many games are when you get down to it, but part of the artistry of game design comes from trying to hide this fact."
Graphics

Qualcomm Makes Open-Source 3D Snapdragon Driver 84

Posted by timothy
from the happy-dribs-happy-drabs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Qualcomm today posted the source code to a Linux kernel driver for 2D/3D support on its OpenGL ES Core found on Snapdragon-based phones like the Nexus One. The company is trying to get this driver into the mainline Linux kernel, but it turns out that the user-space driver is still not open source, which has resulted in some problems already. The ongoing discussion can be found on FreeDesktop.org."

Work continues in this area. -- DEC's SPR-Answering-Automaton

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