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Comment: Re:Proof that capitalism doesn't work (Score 1) 163

Ruining it? You must be joking.... Or, merely naive? Forcing AT&T to increase performance while decreasing price might, must might, reduce their profit margin from nearly infinite to something you can compute with long double precision. Remember AT&T used to make over 1200% profit on caller-id. And that was computed using the special accounting rules that only AT&T and the baby bells get to use.

Comment: Re:no, telcos 20+ years old don't get same conditi (Score 2) 163

I live just out side of Austin (groan... there goes my property value...) and I've been watching this mess for a long time. Austin started to build a network like this one back in the '90s. Then the telcos used their pet politicos to get a law pass in Texas that makes it illegal for a City to build its own network. That was the end of high speed Internet hopes for cities in Texas. Then, AT&T. Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast got pissed off because the cities were requiring them to build out what passed for high speed Internet through out entire cities if they wanted to build it at all. So..... they went to their pet politicos (the folks we refer as the people in the owners box at the legislature) and got the law changed so that only the state gets to tell them where they can or can't build their networks, so AT&T is putting in fiber to the curb in new developments with million dollar homes and in working class neighborhoods you are lucky to get minimal DSL.

Now Google is rolling out gigabit Internet to with in half a mile of my home, but not to my home. I could just cry. This is going to kill Round Rock. And, believe me, ever since Dell moved here Austin has been gunning for Round Rock.

Comment: Just of couple of comments... (Score 1) 709

by stonewolf (#34714122) Attached to: Why Teach Programming With BASIC?

Just tried your system out. Found a few bugs.

I coded an infinite loop. Then I typed "run" and then I realized that there doesn't seem to be anyway to halt a program once it is running. There must be a big red octagonal button on the screen with the letters "STOP" in it that actually stops the program.

I tried to code an IF statement. I had to look up the syntax because "if i 0 then goto 2" got a syntax error. I can almost forgive using the C like "if()" for the if statement but using FORTRAN like "LT" for "" is pretty nasty if you ask me.... But, you didn't :-)

You have a "declare record" statement when just "record" would do. Using "declare" make sense if you are planning to add more things to declare, otherwise it is just a waste. And, seriously, no "for .. next" statement, no "if ... then ... else..." statement, no while statement, no multi-line statements at all. I see that you have reserved some keywords for those so it looks like you are planning to add them in the future. Please, these are critical parts of any language. I know for a fact, having done it, that it is f(&#$@#*$&^King easy to implement those compared to some of the things you have already added.

I tested what would happen if I typed "run" for a program that has a syntax error. It went away forever. No error messages, no output at all. It just stopped reacting to the keyboard. This is a serious bug.

The documentation is really really really poor. Very few examples. No real introduction. You use things like "boolean-expr" but do not define that anywhere it the document.

"turn" is great, but you need left and right also. Kids understand left and right. Positive and negative angles are a bit harder for them.

Palettes? Really? It is very hard to find a computing device that can run a modern browser that is not using RGB pixels. Why put this ancient cruft in the way of kids? Color values are RGB in the range 0 to 1. There are no palettes anymore.

Sprite maps? Nostalgia is an addictive drug, but like all drugs it is damaging when used to excess. Why not just have a place on the screen to browse and drop graphics that can then be used in your program?

I've written an ANSI standard BASIC compiler, I've written a Logo interpreter (or 2 or 3 :-), and I've taught courses in which the final project was a Lisp interpreter. In fact, I've written many compilers, interpreters, and even a linker once. I've also used both basic and logo to teach kids aged 5 to 12 to program. And, I have to say that while you have a good idea your implementation is far from ready for use by kids if I can break it in 5 minutes doing exactly the kind of things kids do.

It looks to me like you have focused on the "cool" parts, the graphics and the math library, but have skipped, or at least skimped on the critical part. The critical part is creating a system that works, followed by the documentation needed to use it.

BTW, WTF is "proof" for? It is left over from back in the day (your nostalgia is showing...) when you actually had to type in code that was published in magazines. OMFG!!!!! We live in a world where magazines have websites (in reality a few websites still have magazines) and flash drives are nearly cheap enough to show up in cracker jack boxes (yeah... I'm old, I learned Basic and Logo on an Univac 1108a :-). We do not do that anymore!

You have a good idea. But, shake off the nostalgia and make something that acknowledges the 21st century.

Yes, I know I have been harsh on you. If I didn't really like the idea of what you are doing I wouldn't bother to find the flaws, let alone spend the time to point them out.



I've recently managed to eliminated the use of paper in all the classes I teach. Doing that has really pissed off the English teachers who still insist on paper and give tests using blue books.

Comment: Re:Knee-jerking != making an informed argument (Score 1) 494

by stonewolf (#34592364) Attached to: Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

As you said the DMCA is about copyright and not about ideas. He did copy the idea, but that is not the question. Anyway, ideas are protected by patents, not copyrights. If there were any patents on Pac-Man they should have expired by now.

You say that the question is whether or not he copied the artwork or code. Sorry, no. It does not matter if he copied the code at all. If you go to his website you'll see that he clearly copied the artwork. Copying does not mean getting a copy of the orignal art work. It does not mean running something through a copy machine or type "cp" in to a command line. A copy is a copy if the copier had access to the original and the copy looks "substantially" like the original. That is why you are violating copyright if you draw a picture of Mickey Mouse. Humanity made copies long before there were computers. Copyright law goes back centuries.

For further reading I suggest you all go look at:


which is the federal district court ruling on a similar case from 1982. It just happens to cover exactly the same circumstances but 28 years earlier. It goes into depth on the method used by the court to determine that an illegal copy had been made and covers the law and precedents that applied up through 1982. This isn't a case of the DMCA making something illegal that used to be legal. This is a case of the owners of Pac-Man using recent law to rather politely and cheaply stop a blatant case of copyright infringement.

Like I said earlier, they could have sued him and left him penniless for the rest of his life. All they did was stop him from being able to continue to distribute their property. The new version of the game he has posted is most likely still in violation. All he did was change a little art to make it look a little different. Considering the existing precedent it would be a cheap suit to prosecute. It is the same circumstance as the one I pointed out from 28 years ago. I bet the court would just give them a summary judgment based on screen shots. The scum bag who asked the question would be sitting with a bill for legal costs and damages that he would probably never be able to pay off.


Comment: Re:Try having an original idea (Score 1) 494

by stonewolf (#34591454) Attached to: Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

You should take your own advice. If you follow the link and look at his artwork he clearly stole the design of the characters and the overall look of the game. He is lucky he just got a take down notice and not a suit for damages. He would likely be having his income garnished for the rest of his life to pay that debt.


Comment: Re:Try having an original idea (Score 1) 494

by stonewolf (#34591400) Attached to: Avoiding DMCA Woes As an Indy Game Developer?

Copyright and trademark are two ways the law (also known as the basis of civil society) establishes the existence and rules for intellectual property. Once you accept the concept of intellectual property then you must accept the concept that taking someones intellectual property is theft just as taking someones physical property is theft.

So, yes, this scum bag created a game that is essentially a clone of Pac-Man and even use the same images for his muncher and the ghosts. You don't have to actually use the original art work. If you make a copy of a piece of art, even by your own hand, then you are breaking the rules of copyright. After all, what does the word mean? Copyright literally means "the right to make a copy". Making a copy without permission is theft.

Using the a trademark with out permission is not only theft from the owner, but theft from the buyer. The idea of a trademark is to insure that when it says "Gucci" on the bag you are getting something actually designed and made by "Gucci". When you make some that looks like Pac-Man, but isn't you are stealing from the owner of the trade mark and from customers who are not getting the real Pac-Man.

So, yes, this is about copyright, trademark, and theft from both the owners of the trademark and copyrights and from the people who purchased it.

The person who posted the original question is a thief who is looking for information that he hopes will allow him to continue as a game developer without continuing as a thief. This is a good goal.

The easiest thing to do in his case is to be a little bit creative. If you want to do a game based on the Japanese folk hero Paku he should research the legend and design a new game. If he wants to just be inspired by Pak-Man then he should be inspired by it enough to create a new game that includes the basic ideas but is not the same game, with the same style of art, with characters that look just like the original characters, and without the same scoring and strategy.

As an example, take a look at the relationship between "Dungeons & Dragons" and "The Lord of the Rings" or even "Bunnies and Burrows" and "Watership Down". Not to mention the relationship between "B&B" and "D&D". (And think of how lucky were are that AFAIK there is no A&A, C&C... Z&Z"!)

The key is that "inspired by" does not mean that it is a near perfect copy down to the art work. A near perfect copy is theft. Inspired by can be great art.

I would suggest that the person who asked the question should get an education. I would suggest starting with a book on the intellectual history of the world. Failing that, at least find, and read, three or four books on the basic concepts of law and especially intellectual property law.

If anyone doubts the importance of intellectual property law let me point out that the basic rights most Americans take for granted were added to the Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights, aka the first ten amendments to the Constitution. OTOH, The legal basis for US intellectual property law is in the core of the original text of the constitution. The founding fathers all came to agree on the need to guarantee intellectual property rights. But, some of them thought it was a bad idea to limit the states right to control religion, speech, the press, weapons, searches, and the states power to use torture to extract a confession.



Student Googles Himself, Finds He's Accused of Murder 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the be-careful-what-you-search-for dept.
University of Florida student Zachary Garcia was more than a little surprised to find out he was wanted for murder after Googling his name. It turns out the police were looking for a different man but had mistakenly used Garcia's photo. From the article: "Investigators originally released a driver's license photo of Zachary Garcia — spelled with an 'A' — but it was Zachery Garcia — spelled with an 'E'— who was charged in connection with the crime."

8-Year-Old Receives Patent 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the young-inventor-society dept.
Knile writes "While not the youngest patent recipient ever (that would be a four year old in Texas), Bryce Gunderman has received a patent at age 8 for a space-saver that combines an outlet cover plate with a shelf. From the article: '"I thought how I was going to make a lot of money," Bryce said about what raced through his brain when he received the patent.'"

Comment: Re:Game programming is for fun, not for money. (Score 1) 240

by stonewolf (#33856308) Attached to: Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming?

The simple fact is that a lot of programmers, like the rest of humanity are idiots.

People want to be associated with the rich and famous, They think that some how that makes them better in someway. The same thing makes people walk around wearing a football jersey with someone else's name and number on it.

As a result people line up to be abused by the rich and famous and that goes double for rich and famous companies.

For every job open at a major game company there are hundreds, if not thousands, or people applying for that job. That fact encourages companies to treat employees as toilet paper. OTOH, the few people who are truly exceptional can rise high and rise quickly. They are well paid and well treated. But, that isn't what happens to most people.


Comment: Re:Game programming is for fun, not for money. (Score 1) 240

by stonewolf (#33839208) Attached to: Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming?

Game development is a highly entrepreneurial business. Which means you have to watch out for your self and it means you are only as good as your last project. Many companies hire you for the duration of a project. When the project is done you are laid off. The project might be done when it ships, and it might be done after lunch today because the producer decided to use the money for a game that appears to have a better ROI.

Once you have been laid off you get to look around for another project. You will be unemployed during that hunting time. Even if you were making over $20,000/month (never happens for programmers) in your last project you might not get that in your next project. And, you might have to live on savings for anywhere from a month to a year between projects. Not to mention that you may find your self work 80 hours/week while you are working. So, yeah the salary might look nice, but when you look at actual yearly earnings it doesn't look that good. When you break it down to $/hour you might find you could do better working behind the bar at Starbucks or delivering pizzas.

The funniest thing is how many people think that if they will get a cut of the revenue from the game. You don't. The stock holders get the revenue. If you want to make money from games develop them and market them your self.


Comment: I have ex-students working in game development... (Score 1) 240

by stonewolf (#33838760) Attached to: Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming?

I'm currently teaching game development. I have taught it in the classroom and on line since 2004. I run a mailing list for wanna be game developers, I have run it for more than 10 years. I helped a college develop their game programming curriculum, for some reason they won't let me teach game dev there any more :-) I used to be game developer. I only did that for 2 full time years, but I was in the computer graphics industry for 10 years after I got my MSCS and before I went into game development. After being part owner of a game company, programmer, and technical director, I moved on. I went to work for a fortune 50 company doing technical and business analysis for games. Now I'm a teacher. And, I am damn near 60 years old. Oh, yeah, I also did 5 major start ups not counting my times as an independent software developer. I had founders shares in 2 of the start ups.

I designed my first game (not a video game :-) when I was 12 and my first paid programming job was porting games from a minicomputer to a mainframe back in the early '70s.

I have a large number of students from my classroom classes who are working in the computer game business. Most of them are developers. I have an even larger number of people who started on my mailing list who are now working in the game development business. I think I have something to say about this subject.

First off, the best way to get a job at one of the Majors is to create a successful independent studio and then sell you studio to one of the majors. Sure, you can get hired at one of the Majors, but then you will be just like the rest of the toilet paper. Cheap, disposable, and only really good for one use because after you use it it is covered in ... well you get the picture.

OTOH, if they have to *buy* your company they will respect you at least a little bit and you will at least have a nice office and a real salary. But, get the money in cash, not in stock. Stock is like toilet paper... Cash is something you can spend.

Secondly, the best way to get any job in game development is to develop games and sell them or find some other way to make money off of them. Yes, by fart the best, easiest, and most lucrative way to get a game development job is to start your own company. If you do not know how you can learn how quickly. Most states, the federal government, many cities, and every community college I know of in the US has courses on small business management and entrepreneurship. Take them, and make sure you get at least on class on contract law while you are at it. Those classes along with a couple of semesters of probabilaity and statistics will be worth more to you over the next 40 years than anything you learn about programming or graphics. All the tech stuff will be obsolete in 5 years, the business, statistics, and law stuff will still be accurate.

As for education. A degree in CS used to be a good place to start. I'm not so sure about that anymore. If you go to a school that only uses one language all the way through (especially if that language is Java or C#) you should find a real school. But, it is still probably better to get a CS degree than a physics degree. Math is kind of a wash. A math degree with a CSMS is not a bad combo. If you can find a school that offers CS degree with a strong emphasis on software engineering you are in pretty good shape. You need to take trigonometry, college algebra with computational geometry, linear algebra with lots of matrices, calculus, numerical analysis, and probably differential equations. I didn't get linear algebra and DiffEQ as an under grad so I had to teach my self linear algebra and I'm married to an ME so I go to her when I need help with DiffEQ. But, you really need at least DiffEQ to understand physics. Yes, you also need to take physics at least a good introduction. A couple of years of physics in high school is good enough. You need need to take a few art classes. I would suggest an art history course, and courses in something like introductory painting, drawing, or sculpture. You also need to take a survey of history. Learning to play a musical instrument, or doing a lot of singing helps. Take at least one class in creative writing, and one in technical writing.

In your computer science studies take a 3d graphics or multimedia programming class. But, seriously, if you have the background in math, art, music, and programming then learning computer graphic and sound programming is not a challenge. But, you must take everything you can about programming, software engineering, data structures, simulation (you may have to go over to the industrial engineering department to get that one), databases, formal language theory, machine architectures, theory of computation (yes, you need to understand the differenced between a finite state machine and an infinite state machine), network architecture, and anything else that looks interesting to you. Yes, you might have to get an MS to get all those classes or take night classes after you graduate to get all this stuff. BTW, you can take the classes without getting a degree. I have an MS but I have more than 45 "extra" hours that have not been applied to any degree. Education does not stop when you get your degrees. In many ways that is when it starts. I have a stock certificate in a non-existent company that I keep the same folder that has by BS and MS degrees. I learned more in 1 year than I ever learned in school.

Oh my, what a list. Do you have to have all that before you start writing games? *NO* you do not. If you want to be a game developer you are developing games right now no matter what level of education you currently have.

Here is the real punch line:

If you want to be a game developer you are already a game developer because you are already writing games. You have at least one game that you are developing right now.

You do not have to work for someone to be a game developer.

You can tell what someone really wants to do by watching what they are doing in their spare time. If you spend all you spare time at the pub drinking with your mates, that is what you really want to. If you spend your spare time reading books about game development and design and coding your own games then you really want to be a game developer. If you can not figure out how to start learning to be a game developer you do not have the problem solving skills needed to be a game developer.

The advice I give to my students is based on the history of Id software. That crew worked for a magazine that was published on a floppy disk (the 5.25 inch ones) and they had to write a game every month. The magazine paid them to write a playable fun little game every month that went out on the floppy. The skills needed to do that are the same as the skills needed to write WOW. Basically the ability to create a doable design. The ability to stick to a schedule. The ability to write code that works. The self discipline to stick to a plan. The ability to realize when you need to cut your losses. The ability to put down the joy stick and write your own games instead of playing other peoples games. The basic interest in doing something real instead of spending your life being entertained.

My best advice is to pick the design of a game you like that can be coded in a month. A week is better, but a month will do. Pick something that you can do using freely available art or something that does not require any art. If you can do your own art that's great, but remember that artists are cheap so don't waste time of being an artist if you can be a developer. Then code up your game and play it. Let your friends play it. Then put it in your portfolio file along with a document (yes you need to write) that details what you did right, what went wrong, what you leaned, and what you wish you knew more about. You need to write that document so that you will actually do the analysis of the game. BTW, if you get stuck or you hit the end of the month without being done. STOP. Write the document, go learn what you were missing. Write some test cases to make sure you know what you just learned. Then start a new design. Don't back and try to fix your old code. Even if you go back to your old design start over. DO NOT USE YOUR OLD CODE. People get emotionally attached to there old code. As a wise wise man by the name of Dr. Art Evens once said to me, "You fall in love with what you make love too". Too many programmers refuse to dump their old code because of the investment they have in it. They will spend years working on broken code because they can't bear to just flush something they have spent so much time on.

Everyone I know who has followed this advice, is now working for a game company as a developer or is making at least some money as an independent game developer or working for an independent studio. Most students refuse to believe this advice. Many students are incapable of following this advice. But, all who have are working game developers.

I explained all this to a student in a C++ for game programmers class. He started following it that night. He dropped out of the class because he got a job as a full time programmer at a fairly large studio. He recreated a number of the old block graphics game programs from the '70s and '80s in C++ using DirectX. He spent nearly a month on the first one. Less than two weeks on each of the others. He picked the best two and sent them around to local game studios. He got replies from most of the studios that he sent his portfolio too and he was hired during his second interview. Yes, he already had a CS degree which helped.

OTOH, I have had a couple of Ph.D physicists take my classes and immediately get good jobs at major studios. A Ph.D in particle or theoretical physics plus a portfolio containing a couple of simple games is likely to get you a good job in many parts of the entertainment industry.

Most of my students are not working in anything resembling game development. They expected to take a series of classes and then be hired by the majors because of their straight A average. That does not happen. You need the education, but you must love game development enough to do it on your own. You must have the problem solving skills needed to find solutions to problems like "how do I learn to program games". You must be willing to take reasonable will thought out risks like the risks involved in starting a business. And, you have to be able to figure out how you are going to make money.

Oh yeah, before the artists out there try to flame me down let me pass on a bit of conversation I had with our creative director one day. He asked me why we got so many applications from programmers who were also artists and musicians, even composers, not we never got applications from artists or composers who were also programmers? I have what I think are answers to that question, but I don't trust them enough to pass them on. But, it is a fact that a lot of programmers are writers, musicians, and artists, but the reverse is not true. As a result, there more people become artists than become programmers. In the market the scarcer good costs more. So, as a rule of thumb if you are a programmer you should spend you time on programming because it is worth more.

Last comment: Most state colleges offer the kinds of classes you need to become a game developer. Getting degrees in general areas like CS or Math is always better than getting a degree in a specialized area like game development. A person with a CS degree can get jobs in many places. A person with a degree in game development will not even be looked at for the same jobs. OTOH, a person with a CS degree and a portfolio can apply for any job someone with a degree in game development can apply for.

I have met a few outstanding people who graduated from Full Sail, I have met some outstanding people who have BS degrees in CS who took a few game development classes at the local community college who are every bit as good as the folks from Full Sail. I have met people with CS degrees from MIT who could not pass a game development course at the local CC and others from the same school who were exceptional. So, be careful about your choice of schools. Also, be very wary of on line schools. The economics of teaching on line says an on line class should cost no more, and maybe less, than the same class taught by a tax supported CC. But, that is not the case. If you are being asked to pay $2000+ for a half semester on line course then you are getting ripped off big time. Most of the on line "colleges" and "universities" are designed to get you to max out your student loans and give the money to them. They are not in the business of educating people, they are in the business of making as much money as possible while leaving you 10s of thousands of dollars of debt that you will be paying off for the next 40 years.

Comment: Never...under human control (Score 1) 606

by stonewolf (#33836284) Attached to: How Long Until We Commonly Use Flying Cars?

You are right about people not being able to handle 2D driving, and having grown up in the mountains I know that people have even more trouble driving in 3D on roads :-)

I expect that within 20 years cars driven under human controls will not be allowed in cities or on major highways. I *DO* believe that we will have flying cars, but we will *NEVER* be allowed to operate them under human control. The will not be capable of violating any laws and you will not have to worry about a drunk pilot flying in to the 37th floor of you apartment building.



Morphing Metals 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the forge-ahead dept.
aarondubrow writes "Imagine a metal that 'remembers' its original, cold-forged shape, and can return to that shape when exposed to heat or a magnetic pulse. Like magic out of a Harry Potter novel, such a metal could contract on command, or swing back and forth like a pendulum. Believe it or not, such metals already exist. First discovered in 1931, they belong to a class of materials called 'shape memory alloys (SMA),' whose unique atomic make-up allows them to return to their initial form, or alternate between forms through a phase change."

Comment: Fill 'em up. (Score 1) 366

by stonewolf (#33248146) Attached to: Creative Uses For Extra Drive Bays?

the task of cleaning out the closet where I've been dumping my old computers and parts came to the top of the infamous honey-do list. I found 8 40gig drives a couple of 30gig drives and a 20gig drive. After testing I had 6 working 30gig drives. I tore down the others just for grins and giggles and to pass around in some of my classes. Not to mention the magnets in the head positioning system are fun to play with.

I also found an old mother board, 3 or 4 CDROM drives, RAM, a couple of power supplies and a very very old PC case. So, I built a PC. We call it Frankenputer. I got a working Athlon 1.5Ghz processor from the computer goodwill store and I lucked out and found some PCI IDE interface cards at the same place. (I had to update all the ROMs in the whole system to get it to work. Finding the BIOSes for a bunch of discontinued cards made by out of business companies was not as hard it sounds.) I had one set of rails for installing a 3.5 inch hard drive in a 5.25 bay. I found several more at computer Goodwill Computer store! I picked up a 30 dollar case at Fry's.

Thanks to google, Goodwill, and freedos I got it all working. I used FreeDos and GParted to get all the disks configured and tested as a raid. Then, I installed Ubuntu using the "alternative" installation disk.

Even though the drives were all "40GB" drives each manufacturers drives were of a different size. So, I created a partition the size of the smallest drive on each drive. Then in the extra space I created a partition of the size of the empty space on the next largest drive. The odd bits of space left at the end of two drives I just partitioned as their actual size. I used the 6 large partitions as a RAID 0, the second set became another RAID 0. The rest of the partitions just became normal drives.

I stuck an old NVidia video card and a old but good network card in there and the thing actually works. It is an absurdly fast disk server.

Every 3.5 inch bay has a drive in it. Every 5.25 inch drive bay has a drive in it.

All the rest of the stuff in the closet went to Goodwill or the dump. Recently a new item went on my list... Move Frankenputer out of the living room. Oh well. And it looks so good on the book shelf :-) For some reason she wants me to move the table saw out of the living room too. Can't imagine why? Can you?


What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928