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Comment Re:Unit AI (Score 1) 79

I loved that game :-). Partially because I'm a horrible tactician, and it helped that my soldiers would refuse to do anything stupid. But mostly because it was a thrill when a group of soldiers held a position against unsurmountable odds, or a group made a very brave attack under heavy fire. It made the soldiers seem more real; you try to keep them as safe as possible. With a game like Age of Empires, I don't think twice before sending "troops" to their death; after all, neither do they.

Real Time Strategy (Games)

Early Praise For Empire: Total War 79

CVG had a chance to preview Empire: Total War, the latest in Creative Assembly's popular strategy series. This installment focuses on a time period which includes the Industrial Revolution and the struggle for US independence. CVG praises the intuitive interface and the improved AI, as well as the level of detail shown in large-scale battles. Quoting: "With a single mouse click I changed my troops' attack orders to melee and sent a sea of blue uniforms sweeping down the hill at the enemy. Zooming into the action revealed a previously unmatched level of battlefield realism and detail, with each motion captured soldier actively seeking out an opponent before engaging in a mortal shoving and stabbing match. Men toppled into the mud, squirming with terror before receiving a deft bayonet jab to the windpipe. After a titanic, 20-minute struggle the tide turned my way with the enemy hightailing it thanks in no small part to a bullet to the British general's head that broke his men's morale."
Science

What Parrots Tell Us About the Evolution of Birds 62

GrrlScientist writes "One of the most contentious issues among scientists who study the evolution of birds is identifying precisely when the modern birds (Neornithes) first appeared. This is due to conflicts between the fossil record and molecular dating methodologies. But there is another way to address this discrepancy. Because the evolution of parrots and cockatoos reflects the evolution of the birds (Aves) themselves, studying the psittaciformes offers compelling insights into this mystery. Further, because psittaciformes generally are not migratory and because they tend to occupy discrete ranges, their ancient patterns of diversification are easier to discern than for many other taxonomic orders of birds that have dispersed widely."
Games

Is the Gaming PC Dead? 417

An anonymous reader writes "Rahul Sood, HP's CTO of gaming, argues that the days of a market that wants PCs running three $500 GPUs is history; he argues that it's really a tough or impossible sell. '... let's face it, high-end hardware has delivered diminishing returns in terms of value. This is why you don't see ridiculous offerings like Quad SLI and 2-kilowatt power supplies coming from our company.' But don't the ideas of customization and market pricing for components tend to undercut that? Is the gaming PC dead?"
Perl

Higher-Order Perl Available For Free Download 68

Christopher Cashell writes "As noted on Perlbuzz, Mark Jason Dominus's amazing book, Higher-Order Perl, is now available for free download. This is a great book that goes way beyond your normal programming reference. This will change the way you look at programs, and make you a better programmer in any language. It sits on that special shelf reserved for books like Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, The C Programming Language, and The Practice of Programming."

Comment Re:This really works quite nice... (Score 1) 117

Though, businesses that rely on perl might want to wait before abandoning activeperl; strawberry is relatively new here...

True, but after a morning of trying to work through ActivePerl PPMs, giving up, and having Strawberry Perl "just work", atleast my company is getting closer and closer to that tipping point ...

Perl

Free Resources for Windows Perl Development 117

jamie pointed out an important announcement in the Perl community. Adam Kennedy, known as Alias, developed Strawberry Perl to "make Win32 a truly first class citizen of the Perl platform world." Over the last year, major CPAN modules have used Strawberry Perl to get to releases that work trouble-free on Windows. But the tens of thousands of smaller modules on CPAN are lagging, in many cases because of lack of access to a Windows environment for development and testing. Now Alias has worked with Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab to provide for every CPAN author free access to a centrally-hosted virtual machine environment containing every major version of Windows. "More information (and press releases) will follow, the entire program under which this partnership will be run is so new it's only just been given a name, so some of the organisational details will ironed out as we go. But for now, to all the CPAN authors, all I have to add is... Merry Christmas. P.S. Or your appropriate equivalent religious or non-religious event, if any, occurring during the month of December, etc., etc."
NASA

Urine Passes NASA Taste Test 404

Ponca City, We love you writes "Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour are delivering a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if NASA is taking recycling too far. Among the ship's cargo is a water regeneration system that distills, filters, ionizes, and oxidizes wastewater — including urine — into fresh water for drinking or, as one astronaut puts it, 'will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee.' The US space agency spent $250M for the water recycling equipment but with the space shuttles due to retire in two years, NASA needed to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water. The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems uses a purification process called vapor compression distillation: urine is boiled until the water in it turns to steam. In space, there's an additional challenge: steam doesn't rise, so the entire distillation system is spun to create artificial gravity to separate the steam from the brine. The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water. 'Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth,' said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper."
NASA

NASA Draws On Open Source For Shuttle Bug-Tracking 83

thefickler writes "NASA has built a new software package to track problems with the Space Shuttle using open source tools from Mozilla. '[Alonso Vera, the lead of the Ames Human-Computer Interaction Group] wouldn't say exactly how much the new systems cost to build, but he said they were an order of magnitude cheaper than what was being used before, closer to $100,000 than the $1 million it would have cost in the past.' The Space Shuttle Endeavor launched successfully on Friday, so the new system is being used to track any problems which may crop up in the current mission. As one commentator pointed out, 'A system like this could save more than money; it could save lives.'"
Mars

Mars Rover "Spirit" In Danger 222

Riding with Robots writes "Just days after announcing that the Mars Phoenix Lander has met its icy demise, NASA reports that a dust storm has left the rover Spirit on the edge of power failure. During one recent Martian day, the robotic geologist's solar array produced only 89 watt hours of energy, the lowest output by either rover in their nearly five years on Mars. Mission managers are taking steps to protect the hardy, battle-worn spacecraft, but the agency describes Spirit's status as 'vulnerable.'"

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