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Comment Re:License missing (Score 1) 336

Instead of moderating, I'd like to ask you politely to stop using the term 'intellectual property', unless you genuinely need a quick way to refer to all three of copyrights, trademarks and patents in one go.

Enough confusion abounds already without mixing together the different rights and obligations of three different legal rights.

In this case, some included trademarks might arguably need defending, but the same doesn't apply to copyrights. (With patents, I understand there is the issue of 'sleeping on your rights', laches, but that's another matter).

Comment Re:Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do *this* (Score 1) 262

One of the main problems (I'm sure there's more) is that unless your "vehicle" is huge, then making it spin causes both a "gravity gradient (gravity on your head will be smaller than on your feet) and strong Coriolis forces (people and objects cannot follow a straight line).

Sure, you wouldn't want your tiny space station spinning around at a huge rate to create 1G at the circumference.

But it's easier for spacecraft, and we're not talking Babylon 5's gigantic ships with rotating segments either. You can use a counterweight on a tether, creating a much larger orbit, to reduce these effects.

For example, Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct plan, the plan to establish multiple Mars visits using currently-available rocketry, suggested retaining part of the final rocket stage to use as a counterweight. The manned module would spin about the combined centre of gravity for the months-long journey to Mars, then the counterweight would be discarded.

Using a tether has problems of its own, but it might be a good solution if we're to go out and explore the solar system without radical new methods of propulsion.

Comment Terrible summary (Score 4, Insightful) 337

The Slashdot summary of this story is spectacularly bad, particularly the 'should have ended over 500 years ago'.

Five hundred years is completely negligible on an evolutionary timescale. If trees - TREES - you know, big woody things that grow really slowly - had evolved significant changes in that time it would be headline news.

The research that led to this story wasn't remotely aimed at calling evolution into question, quite the contrary. Scientists are interested in the causes of the changes that these trees go during their lifetimes - and they have shown that these metamorphoses are probably due to the moa bird. Which is quite interesting, if probably not Slashdot-worthy.

Comment Enjoyed it until I started thinking... (Score 4, Interesting) 592

I enjoyed 'Star Trek' while I was watching it, but on later reflection, I didn't really approve of any part of it. They've just made a big, dumb movie full of action, with a series of improbable coincidences leading to the familiar characters being in charge of the Enterprise at a ridiculously young age.

I did approve of the way the whole thing was rendered canonical by the process of changing the timeline, and the way they spelt it out for even the slowest members of the audience. "What's that you say, an alternate timeline?" But still, it felt a lot like most prequels, in that it was moving along on rails towards a predetermined end.

This time round, Kirk becomes captain of the Enterprise seemingly at the age of about seventeen, essentially (skipping spoilers) because Captain Pike likes the cut of his jib and appoints Kirk first officer before conveniently being kidnapped. Perhaps Slashdot readers will agree with me here: why do the movies promote the idea that anything worth doing gets done by a kid or a 'natural'? Someone very young who gets to achieve things just by being the protagonist. It seems like movie-goers can't cope with the idea of anything being achieved by a hard-working adult.

I'm not totally familiar with the original Trek canon, but it always seemed to me that the Enterprise was crewed with competent career professionals, not half-trained Academy brats.

Comment Masochism (Score 1) 10

Perhaps it would be possible to cross-compile from a non-Stone-Age machine?

But let's face it, no-one would even try what you're doing if they weren't a very strange sort of masochist anyway. Paying £200 per hour for a middle-aged woman in a plastic dress to spank you would be far more *normal* :-)

Comment Re:Not surprised (Score 1) 172

The PS2 is graphically less capable than a GameCube. Any developer who is lazy enough to only dress up a PS2 game (considering the Xbox360 and the Wii both use DVDs - alleviating any storage space considerations) is not using the console to anywhere near it's full potential.

You're almost certainly right - but I put it to you that developers don't always exploit consoles' full potential. Take some multi-platform franchise, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, maybe the Wall-E game or something like that, and you'll see a divide between the PS3 and 360 versions and those for the Wii and PS2. Perhaps we should forget this, after all any mediocre developer can make an ugly game, but it does contribute to the general impression. Gamecube ports don't help either, I enjoyed Zelda: Twilight Princess but it didn't wow me graphically.

Look, I love my Wii, but I watch Playr on Sunday mornings and the best Wii games don't look as good as the beautiful next-gen and PC games that are coming out. Wii graphics at the moment look a lot like the graphics of the later, and best-looking PS2 games. I'm talking about a console that has been around for donkeys' years, with software houses releasing their third or fourth title for the machine - all the tricks are known.

Now, the PS2 has a DVD drive as well. The issue isn't so much storage, so much as technical limitations to the numbers of textures and polygons that can be drawn on the screen, the amount of computation available to be devoted to nice lighting algorithms, physics simulation and so forth. Power will show in the end - I dare say the Wii games coming out in two years' time will look great and make my assertions about comparability with the PS2 look ridiculous.

Still, to get back on-topic, the PS2 is 'good enough', and has some games that really deserve to be played. I'm not surprised people are still using them.

Comment Not surprised (Score 3, Interesting) 172

I'm not really surprised - the PS2 has a huge software library, plus most owners have several peripherals that still prove useful. This weekend I played some Singstar and Guitar Hero III with friends, and I'd be more likely to buy more PS2 games that use the guitar and mikes, than to buy new peripherals (extra functionality and downloadable content notwithstanding).

In fact the Singstar game we played was a brand-new copy of the recently-released Singstar ABBA, and everyone loved it.

You can pick up used PS2 games for a pittance. I remember chatting to a store assistant in a games store, saying he was still always seeing parents come in and picking up PS2s with a bunch of games for the holidays. Console and a load of games well under 100 UK pounds, for which you can't really get another console (perhaps a DS or PSP with one game).

They're still releasing new games for the PS2, a pretty clear indication that it's still alive. No-one sane would advocate playing a cut-down and graphically poor PS2 Force Unleashed, but it's clearly still economically viable to release it. Though some would say the same for the Wii version. And, I don't want to arouse any fanboy ire, but I have a sneaking suspicion that similarities in graphical capabilities between the Wii and PS2 might help the economics of releasing a PS2 port... Anyway, there are a ton of PS2 games that are well worth playing - a brilliant last-generation game beats a mediocre current-gen one.

Everyone commenting on gaming stories should disclose their console preferences to discourage fanboy-ism. My TV is currently hooked up to a Wii, a PS2 and a Sega Master System.

Comment Re:Holy crap. (Score 1) 546

If there was a trade, then by definition the stock was worth precisely the value at which it was traded.

While that is in many cases a vital truth, it becomes a pointless truism when one party is poorly-informed.

A handful of beans aren't worth as much as a cow just because you manage to persuade one hick that they're 'magic' beans. And an instantaneous stock-market price would only really mark the consensus agreement on the worth of a stock if markets were perfectly efficient.

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