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Robotics

London's Robotic Fire Brigade 82

Posted by kdawson
from the playing-with-fire dept.
dustpan writes "The BBC has a story up about a quartet of robotic fire fighters that the London Fire Brigade is testing and with which have been achieving 'tremendous results.' The robots were developed by QinetiQ, which is a defense contractor. The LFB has been testing the units since last year and the machines are primarily used in fires involving acetylene canisters. The group commander for hazardous materials and environmental protection with the LFB says that the robots have cut the time to resolve these potential hazards from 24 hours to 3. From the article: 'Three years ago we were shutting down parts of London for over 24 hours every other week. Now it doesn't even make the news.'"

Comment: Best way to fight piracy... (Score 1) 377

by woutersimons_com (#28849641) Attached to: Ubisoft Working On a New Anti-Piracy Tool

..offer your products at very reasonable prices and make them available for easy download.

I do not need a box for a game, nor do I like going to the stores for one. I want a free preview download with one level and if I like it I will buy it when the price is right. EA got it right in my eyes, I got a free trial of C&C and then went and bought it through their online store. My download went at 1.2MB/s filling up my 10Mbps connection. The price was also slightly less than getting the boxed set in a local store.

Communications

+ - Apple kills Google Voice apps on the iPhone 5

Submitted by
molnarcs
molnarcs writes "Apple pulls Google Voice-enabled applications from its App Store citing duplication of functionality. This includes both Google's official Google Voice and third party apps like Voice Central. Sean Kovacs, main developer of GV Mobile says that he had personal approval from Phillip Shiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing last April. TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid suspects AT&T behind the move."

Comment: Re:Responsibility to customers (Score 1) 437

by woutersimons_com (#28837763) Attached to: Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing <em>1984</em>

Your being too nice about it.

Perhaps I am, reading the comments I do see the POV where Amazon severely infringes on the rights of their customers if you follow the line of thinking that once you have sold the product to someone they own it. But it is not new that this right is infringed upon and perhaps I have become somewhat dulled to the effects of it. Let me explain.

I have worked as a systems administrator in the past where we used volume licenses for the Microsoft products we used. Windows XP was one of them. Stupidly enough we allowed some of our users to use a copy of windows on their home machines (which Microsoft actually allows or at least allowed at the time). A copy of our volume license must have ended up in a torrent network or something and it got blacklisted. Then with one of the automatic updates the product was noted as no longer "Genuine". For us this was not a very big deal because we contacted Microsoft, got a slap on the wrist and a new key, and fixed our issues quickly. But the users already using our software at home ended up being unable to update their machines properly anymore.

Long story short, with incidents like this and having worked at Joost where we had to find a way to deal with these sorts of DRM issues, I suppose it is easy to get used to things like this happening. Hopefully, this will improve in the future, but I think it is more likely that it is something that we are going to deal with more and more. Like the guy in the article says,

"This is probably going to happen again and we just have to learn to live with it."

Now I am not saying we should live with it, but it is easier. Damn, I guess I really am a pushover! ;-)

Comment: Interesting parallels (Score 2, Interesting) 207

by woutersimons_com (#28835675) Attached to: District 9 Rises From the Ashes of Halo

The referenced site in the article on Wired for the trailer and the D-9 site in the article here do not work for me it seems. I found a good trailer on the site Sony made for it.

This is sure to be a movie that I am going to watch, very interesting story. It also interests me that the director is from South Africa, the way the aliens are moved to camps does seem to have some parallels with the Apartheid

Comment: Responsibility to customers (Score 4, Insightful) 437

by woutersimons_com (#28835359) Attached to: Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing <em>1984</em>

Amazon has refunded their customers according to the article, but if I was halfway through a book and it got deleted from my device I would be very annoyed. To me it seems that the better solution would be for Amazon to arrange the correct rights from the copyright holder and arrange some form of deal to make sure that those who have a copy of the book on their Kindle can continue to use it or receive a new copy with the proper rights and at no cost. In the end, the material was offered through their service and they do have responsibility to their customers, even if it is not illegal for them to use this solution.

The apology posted from Mr. Bezos sounds heartfelt indeed. I wonder how this will be handled in future incidents like this one. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands we do not have access to the Kindle. But even with the risks of allowing Amazon to retain control to remotely delete items you have purchased I would definitely be a customer for the device. I suppose that with products like these you have to decide whether you trust a supplier or not.

Books

Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing 1984 437

Posted by timothy
from the always-been-sorry-about-erasing-1984 dept.
levicivita writes "From the down-but-not-out NYT comes an article (warning: login may be required) about user backlash against Kindle's embedded DRM: 'Last week, Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, offered an apparently heartfelt and anguished mea culpa to customers whose digital editions of George Orwell's "1984" were remotely deleted from their Kindle reading devices. Though copies of the books were sold by a bookseller that did not have legal rights to the novel, Mr. Bezos wrote on a company forum that Amazon's "'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles."' Bezos's post is here."
Google

+ - IPv6 at Google: A Chat With Lorenzo Colitti

Submitted by Alex Band
Alex Band (581029) writes "IPv6 Act Now has posted a recent video interview with Google network engineer Lorenzo Colitti, in which he discusses the experience of making Google services available over IPv6. "We're committed to a good user experience and IPv6 will give us that when IPv4 addresses run out," he explains in the video, adding that, "We basically went from zero to being able to serve most Google services over IPv6 to users that had good connectivity in a year and a half. Lots of progress can be made because it's not a huge undertaking." Colitti is the latest to appear on the IPv6 Act Now website. It already features discussions with, for example, IIJ's Randy Bush on IPv6 deployment and Cisco's Patrik Fältström on the role of governments with regards to IPv6. New interviews are released on a regular basis."

Comment: Hardly new (Score 0) 77

This model works for games such as SecondLife as well, doen't it? In fact, once upon a time I played a game where you could buy credits to buy items to give you a small edge in combat. Especially played vs. player. This game has been around since the 90's and the company is still surviving so it must work. And all that with no graphics.
Role Playing (Games)

Free Realms Approaches the Five-Million-Player Mark 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the price-is-right dept.
A few days ago at Comic-Con, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley spoke about the success of Free Realms, their free-to-play MMORPG that relies on microtransactions for a business model. The game was released at the end of April, and by mid-June there were upwards of three million registered users. Now that total is approaching five million, with no sign of slowing down. Min Kim, another panelist at the discussion, said, "When people started talking about it back in 2003 or 2004, people said Western games would never want to do this, to play a game for free and then buy items. And now everybody is saying, 'We're going to have microtransactions as part of our business model.'"

Comment: Re:That's because security warnings are stupid. (Score 0) 432

by woutersimons_com (#28833507) Attached to: Security Certificate Warnings Don't Work
Oh and by the way, a funny fact. Even though Getronics has the ability to get a verified and signed certificate for themselves. When I connect to our outlook webaccess site I am told that there is an unsigned certificate. A message which I am forced to ignore if I want to use the resource. There is a dutch saying: "It leaks in the plumbers house."

Comment: Re:That's because security warnings are stupid. (Score 0) 432

by woutersimons_com (#28833489) Attached to: Security Certificate Warnings Don't Work

The only difference between a self signed certificate and one that is signed by a CA is that someone wrote a check for the CA signed cert. No CA does any verification that the person writing that check is who they say they are, has any rights to that domain, or anything else, they only check to see if they already have a signed certificate. ...

...Certs never guarantee who you're talking to, they only provide encrypted communication.

I work at Getronics in the Netherlands. Some of the colleagues that I work close to manage a special CA that is used to sign the certs for all government based websites. When a certificate is requested for one of these sites you can be sure that the requester is audited first. Then, to actually sign the key a ceremony is used which involves 7 people.

Comment: Is fiction driving science? (Score 0) 652

by woutersimons_com (#28826371) Attached to: Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man
In this case, I wonder if it is fiction driving science or science driving fiction. It is very normal to fear the unknown and there are few that can know what will happen as robotics and AI advance and integrate more with our lives. But, perhaps instead of fearing the changes we have to embrace them while being careful that no one person or government gains too much control. To me, the question is no longer if there are going to be AI cybernetics taking over human functions, but when it will happen in our day-to-day lives.

Comment: Dutch government had an idea to tax for papers (Score 0) 294

by woutersimons_com (#28818739) Attached to: Free Web Content a "Myth," Claims Barry Diller
The idea has been voiced in holland to start taxing internet connection to pay newspapers for being able to survive. This is along the same lines of thinking. The free content supposedly makes it impossible for newspapers to survive. To keep on the staff of reporters and overhead costs. Nonsense, obviously. A new generation of media companies will just have to find new ways to fund their activities. Advertising is a big one, but other models may work too. If you are going to charge 5$ to access your content I am sure you will lose your readers rather quickly. The idea sounds shortsighted to me.

Comment: Re:Python then C/C++ (Score 0) 634

by woutersimons_com (#28818557) Attached to: The Best First Language For a Young Programmer

I started programming by learning python. Still valuable to know the language. But now I suppose I am screwed for life as I also write Java and C#. Why I would need to learn C++ is beyond me, perhaps I just need more convincing, but I have not had a project where I wished I knew more C++.

This promises to be a fun discussion, about what is good and what is best and what sucks. Personally, my opinion is that few are in a position to really say that one tool is better than the other. It is like telling a carpenter that he is better off using a screwdriver than a hammer, where obviously he has a purpose for both.

Best first language? The one you have most fun working with I think. When you have fun with a certain tool you are much more likely to have success and really learn it. But whatever tool you choose, whatever language you prefer, learning about the right way to use your chosen language is smart in any case. For that, python might be a good choice as a first language because it does force you to at least indent properly. If you are more of a mathematician it works well enough for functional programming too, so it does seem to be a safe academic choice.

Perl anyone?

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