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Government

Moscow Police Watch Pre-Recorded Scenes On Surveillance Cams 114

An anonymous reader writes "During several months of 2009, Moscow police looked at fake pictures displayed on their monitors instead of what was supposed to be video from the city surveillance cams. The subcontractor providing the cams was paid on the basis of 'the number of working cams,' so he delivered pre-cooked pictures stored on his servers. The camera company CEO has been arrested."
Space

India Developing Vehicle To Knock Enemy Satellites 178

Frankie70 writes "Star Wars are back in fashion. With perennial (and nuclear armed) foe Pakistan always teetering on the brink of political collapse and neighboring regional superpower China taking greater strides into space technology, India has announced that it is developing an exo-atmospheric 'kill vehicle' that will knock enemy satellites out of orbit."
Games

Game Endings Going Out of Style? 190

An article in the Guardian asks whether the focus of modern games has shifted away from having a clear-cut ending and toward indefinite entertainment instead. With the rise of achievements, frequent content updates and open-ended worlds, it seems like publishers and developers are doing everything they can to help this trend. Quoting: "Particularly before the advent of 'saving,' the completion of even a simple game could take huge amounts of patience, effort and time. The ending, like those last pages of a book, was a key reason why we started playing in the first place. Sure, multiplayer and arcade style games still had their place, but fond 8, 16 and 32-bit memories consist more of completion and satisfaction than particular levels or tricky moments. Over the past few years, however, the idea of a game as simply something to 'finish' has shifted somewhat. For starters, the availability of downloadable content means no story need ever end, as long as the makers think there's a paying audience. Also, the ubiquity of broadband means multiplayer gaming is now the standard, not the exception it once was. There is no real 'finish' to most MMORPGs."

Comment noisy inputs (Score 1) 114

This kind of system, along with things that react to facial expressions, eye movement or brain activity are cool and everything, but what kind of usability gains are we going to get here? Is it really an advantage to have your computer know you're pissed, for example, or sad? Oh yeah, we can get a google-ads type response to your mood; "Looks like you're crying - click here to FedEx Kleenex," or maybe alert security that you've become enraged in your cubicle and are an imminent threat to your coworkers and company property - great. Conversely, if this does do something useful, you'd doubtlessly end up in situations where you're second-guessing the algorithms to accomplish something with twitches and contortions you could otherwise do with a few clicks or not bother with at all.

I'd be much much happier if we got some software out there that can tell that I should have used "first" instead of "firs" in a sentence that currently passes as correct in grammar/spell checking, instead of criticizing me for using passive tense, but that's all less cool.

Comment Re:Lenovo (Score 2, Informative) 583

I bought a Lenovo laptop with WinXP this summer and would also like to say how pleasantly surprised I was by the near-total absence of crapware on it. I got the 30 day MS Office trial and some Lenovo firmware update thing but nothing else, not even Adobe flash and PDF reader (which aren't really crapware in my book, more like necessary evils). I was pretty happy with that...

Comment Re:Let's be honest here. (Score 1) 536

parent: insightful++

Alas, there never are mod points around when I need them. But yes, surprisingly enough, prices are set by what people are willing to pay,** not by cost of the thing you're selling. The difference between [price x volume] and [fixed + variable costs] merely determines how successful you are as a business. There's no conspiracy, move along.

** Prices are also signals to consumers about other things. If the market charges $60 on average at release and you release for $30, people might be inclined to think that your product is not as good, or something like that.

Comment Re:Only Vista (Score 5, Insightful) 706

After 14 years of living with Windows (holy pants, has it been that long?), I'm resigned to installing clean every few years whether there is a new OS or not - it's like a mini-upgrade I give myself, and best of all it's free (for very low values of own time and soul). Basically, in my experience, Windows is sort of like a giant ball of playdough rolling down a city street - it gets dirtier and heavier over time, less appealing and not so colourful, not to mention the used condoms and syringes it occasionally picks up, and so you need to break out a new batch of playdough once in a while. I'm not saying that this is right and that it's a reason to not get angry about these results, but can you imagine the tubs of crap that are being sloshed around in the bowels of your computer when your two-year-old Vista install is being digested for 20h? Are you going to get a pretty result, all clean and good with everything working? Will you be able to uninstall something that didn't quite make it when all is said and done?

Just start clean, it's easier on the conscience...

Comment don't forget (Score 3, Insightful) 236

Video games are now mainstream, just another Hollywood, and what we can learn from movies and apply to our preferred entertainment is that unmitigated mediocrity is no obstacle to making money. How many cookie cutter romantic comedies come out each year? There's no innovation, no surprises, but they keep making them so the money's coming from somewhere. OMG, he travels through time, but he still loves her and she loves him back? Shit bitch, no way! How about generic action movies? Three Transporters, Two Cranked's and Death Race, and I'm sure they're making Death Race 2 right now... in case we forget Jason Statham is awesome. The examples go on. If these movies are making money somehow that means there's enough people out there who are buying, for who those movies offer enough. And yay, look out, the same is true for games. We're measuring different things here, and we even have a study for some reason, but it's no surprise that the average person's demands are for something that's "good enough" in a few basic areas.

Comment Tune in next week... (Score 4, Funny) 171

...for the space toilet special. An interview with George Lucas will explore the challenges of sci fi pooping, creating believable multi-species lavatories that account for physical as well as cultural differences, whether Jedi excrement has any force abilities, and the problems traditionally associated with merchandising this under-developed aspect of cinema.

Comment oh noes! (Score 3, Informative) 160

This is all wonderful, us rich people can continue to drive GMC Yukons or whatever, except it has the same problems as using other foodstuffs for fuel. Oh, sure, you can use the 20% bad watermelons for it, but once watermelon->fuel processing capacity exists, market prices will dictate whether the 80% of good melons go to the grocery store or to the melon refinery, and when the global economy bounces back and fuel prices go up, it'll be just one more thing putting pressure on the food supply. Before anyone says "oh, but watermelons can't be a large part of the global food supply," what happens with cash crops is they end up more valuable than food crops (hence the name) and displace them in the fields.

And so this whole thing is barking up the wrong tree - the fuel is alternative, but it sure isn't sustainable, just one more squeeze on substance farmers someplace we don't give a damn about.

Comment Re:How will removing LAN encourage more sales? (Score 1) 520

This seems to follow the typical entertainment industry fallacy of "people who enjoy our product without paying (typically through piracy, though not in this case) would buy it instead if we made free enjoyment harder." The question Blizzard was deciding here was whether the person playing the spawned copy of Starcraft was a potential customer or added value to the actual customers, and they chose to believe that it was a potential customer. Of course everyone should pay. Shareholder value and all that. I'd be surprised if there was "hard data" behind this decision if it were made on that basis.

Conversely, they may have merely decided that they don't need the trouble of including this feature to stand out amongst their competition, having a strong brand and all that.

Comment Re:what to do, what to do (Score 5, Interesting) 553

ID it not a theory, it is a religious/political ideology being presented as a theory that aims to explain the perceived weaknesses of science in order to advance the interests of certain groups and individuals.

- This beautiful, complex interaction could not have possibly arisen spontaneously, therefore God's will.
- This makes no apparent sense/has no apparent purpose, therefore descent from God's will.
- You cannot explain something neatly, therefore God's will or the descent from it.

That's not a theory. The aim of a theory is to predict something that you can then test for. ID doesn't predict anything, there is no empirical test for God and deciding arbitrarily whether things are as God intended or not does not increase our understanding of them - it's merely a reactionary attitude advanced by old men who are afraid of change and what it means for their status.

Besides, even if you believe in God the creator, the ID advocacy of ignorance still seems bogus; God gave you all these wonderful cognitive capabilities, so why not use them to try to fully appreciate his grand work? You would be wasting God's gifts if you didn't. :p

Comment what? (Score 1) 560

This bit of fud suggests that this "bing" thing actually has, well, new parts? Something's changed? Improved, even slightly? It was my initial impression that it was some new makeup and rebranding of ye olde Windows Live Search, or whatever it was officially called last. You know, to be cool for the kids these days. No one wants to be all "let's windows live search some pr0n!" - it's much sexier if they bing Kim Kardashian, and then bing some homework. See, that works so well I never even imagined that there was more to it.

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