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Graphics

DirectX 11 Coming To Browser Games 200

arcticstoat writes "Forget Farmville, Flash puzzlers and 8-bit home computer emulators. The next generation of browser games will be able to take advantage of DirectX 11 effects, not to mention multi-core processing and both Havok and PhysX physics effects. A new browser plug-in called WebVision will be available for Trinergy's new game engine, Vision Engine 8. This will enable game developers to port all the advanced effects from the game engine over to all the common browsers. Of course, any budding 3D-browser-game dev will face the problem that not every PC has a decent graphics card that can handle advanced graphics effects. Not only that, but limited bandwidth will also limit what effects a developer can realistically implement into a browser game. Nevertheless, this is an interesting development that could result in some tight 3D programming, as well as some much more interesting browser games."
Data Storage

"Limited Edition" SSD Has Fastest Storage Speed 122

Vigile writes "The idea of having a 'Limited Edition' solid state drive might seem counter-intuitive, but regardless of the naming, the new OCZ Vertex LE is based on the new Sandforce SSD controller that promises significant increases in performance, along with improved ability to detect and correct errors in the data stored in flash. While the initial Sandforce drive was called the 'Vertex 2 Pro' and included a super-capacitor for data integrity, the Vertex LE drops that feature to improve cost efficiency. In PC Perspectives's performance tests, the drive was able to best the Intel X25-M line in file creation and copying duties, had minimal fragmentation or slow-down effects, and was very competitive in IOs per second as well. It seems that current SSD manufacturers are all targeting Intel and the new Sandforce controller is likely the first to be up to the challenge."
Security

Adobe Download Manager Installing Software Without Consent 98

"Not all is worth cheering about as Adobe turns 20," writes reader adeelarshad82, who excerpts from a story at PC Magazine's Security Watch: "Researcher Aviv Raff has found a problem in ADM (Adobe Download Manager) and the method through which it is delivered from adobe.com. The net effect of the problem is that a user can be tricked into downloading and installing software using ADM without actual consent. Tonight Adobe acknowledged the report and said they were working on the issue with Raff and NOS Microsystems, the company that wrote ADM."
Science

Israeli Scientists Freeze Water By Warming It 165

ccktech writes "As reported by NPR and Chemistry world, the journal Science has a paper by David Ehre, Etay Lavert, Meir Lahav, and Igor Lubomirsky [note: abstract online; payment required to read the full paper] of Israel's Weizmann Institute, who have figured out a way to freeze pure water by warming it up. The trick is that pure water has different freezing points depending on the electrical charge of the surface it resides on. They found out that a negatively charged surface causes water to freeze at a lower temperature than a positively charged surface. By putting water on the pyroelectric material Lithium Tantalate, which has a negative charge when cooler but a positive change when warmer; water would remain a liquid down to -17 degrees C., and then freeze when the substrate and water were warmed up and the charge changed to positive, where water freezes at -7 degrees C."
Software

The Final Release of Apache HTTP Server 1.3 104

Kyle Hamilton writes "The Apache Software Foundation and the Apache HTTP Server Project are pleased to announce the release of version 1.3.42 of the Apache HTTP Server ('Apache'). This release is intended as the final release of version 1.3 of the Apache HTTP Server, which has reached end of life status There will be no more full releases of Apache HTTP Server 1.3. However, critical security updates may be made available."
Math

7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators 289

An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."
Social Networks

Game Distribution Platforms Becoming Annoyingly Common 349

The Escapist's Shamus Young recently posted an article complaining about the proliferation of distribution platforms and social networks for video games. None of the companies who make these are "quite sure how games will be sold and played ten years from now," he writes, "but they all know they want to be the ones running the community or selling the titles." Young continues, "Remember how these systems usually work: The program sets itself up to run when Windows starts, and it must be running if you want to play the game. If you follow this scheme to its logical conclusion, you'll see that the system tray of every gaming PC would eventually end up clogged with loaders, patchers, helpers, and monitors. Every publisher would have a program for serving up content, connecting players, managing digital licenses, performing patches, and (most importantly) selling stuff. Some people don't mind having 'just one more' program running in the background. But what happens when you have programs from Valve, Stardock, Activision, 2k Games, Take-Two, Codemasters, Microsoft, Eidos, and Ubisoft? Sure, you could disable them. But then when you fire the thing up to play a game, it will want to spend fifteen minutes patching itself and the game before it will let you in. And imagine how fun it would be juggling accounts for all of them."
Microsoft

Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting 390

An anonymous reader writes "For years, Microsoft has allowed Visual Studio users to define arbitrary tab widths, often to the dismay of those viewing the resultant code in other editors. With VS 2010, it appears that they have taken the next step of forcing tab width to be the same as the indent size in code. Two-space tabs anyone?"
OS X

Apple Patches Massive Holes In OS X 246

Trailrunner7 writes with this snippet from ThreatPost: "Apple's first Mac OS X security update for 2010 is out, providing cover for at least 12 serious vulnerabilities. The update, rated critical, plugs security holes that could lead to code execution vulnerabilities if a Mac user is tricked into opening audio files or surfing to a rigged Web site." Hit the link for a list of the highlights among these fixes.
Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."
Science

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"
Input Devices

The Mice That Didn't Make It 202

Harry writes "For every blockbuster of the mouse world (such as Microsoft and Logitech's big sellers) there have been countless mice that flopped, or never made it to market. Mice shaped like pyramids; mice shaped like Mickey; mice that doubled as numeric keypads or phones. Even one that sat on your steering wheel. I've rounded up some evocative patent drawings on twenty notable examples."
Cellphones

How Apple's App Review Is Sabotaging the iPhone 509

snydeq writes to recommend Peter Wayner's inside look at the frustration iPhone developers face from Apple when attempting to distribute their apps through the iPhone App Store. Wayner's long piece is an extended analogy comparing Apple to the worst of Soviet-era bureaucracy. "Determined simply to dump an HTML version of his book into UIWebView and offer two versions through the App Store, Wayner endures four months of inexplicable silences, mixed messages, and almost whimsical rejections from Apple — the kind of frustration and uncertainty Wayner believes is fast transforming Apple's regulated marketplace into a hotbed of bottom-feeding mediocrity. 'Developers are afraid to risk serious development time on the platform as long as anonymous gatekeepers are able to delay projects by weeks and months with some seemingly random flick of a finger,' Wayner writes of his experience. 'It's one thing to delay a homebrew project like mine, but it's another thing to shut down a team of developers burning real cash. Apple should be worried when real programmers shrug off the rejections by saying, "It's just a hobby."'"
Space

Sunspots Return 276

We're emerging from the longest, deepest sunspot drought since 1913 (we discussed its depths here) with the appearance of a robust group of sunspots over the weekend. Recently we discussed a possible explanation for the prolonged minimum. The Fox News article quotes observer Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, Calif.: "This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years." jamie found a NASA site where you can generate a movie of the recent sunspot's movement — try selecting the first image type and bumping the resolution to 1024. The magnetic field lines are clearly visible.

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