Went to Reactor 2006 over the weekend. Man! Hope this makeup comes out!
Just got back from Otakon and boy are my arms tired!
I just bought my first PC game in a long time. Oblivion. So far I've been at this for about five hours and I still haven't managed to actually get around to playing the game. No sir. First you must troubleshoot. Now I remember why I stopped buying PC titles.
The First issue on install was the graphics. My card is an older Nvidia 5200, which to be fair, did have 256MB of RAM. After much questing, I eventually discovered that I needed to change a shader setting in an ini file to get things to run anywhere near smoothly. An ini file!! I was under the impression that those days were long behind the PC gaming sector. Clearly not.
The major difficulty turned out to be with my joypad. Oblivion, by default, is set to use the diabolically carpal tunnel inducing control scheme known as "The Keyboard and Mouse". I would use the handy and ergonomic dual analog joypad I have, but Oblivion flat out refuses to detect the last of the four available axes, blowing that idea out of the water. And no matter which way I tweak the setting, the game simply will not become playable without that fourth axis.
After over eight years away, I return to find that PC game creators still expect me to use the keyboard to move about. What's worse, they now expect me to use WASD instead of the arrow keys. Who came up with that bright idea? W is not directly above S you know.
Never mind the fact that before I even installed the game needed an obscene 4.6GB of hard disc space!! Going on the last "first person" type PC game I purchaced, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, which took up 65MB of space in 1997, that corresponds to a space requirement inflation rate of about 60% per year. Take that, Moore's Law. Well, the hard disc equivalent at any rate.
I suppose I should thank Bethesda, the creators of Oblivion. I had been considering upgrading my current PC to avail of what the PC industry might offer me, now that the console market is in a slump. Now, having spent 60 on the best game the PC sector has to offer, I can say with confidence I won't be buying a gaming rig anytime soon.
I'm still going to try and play Oblivion. It seems a student of the old school western RPG. Lots of dungeons, item and quests to keep you busy. I will not be "comfortable" playing it, hunched as I shall be, hands splayed out over two devices, one paticularly ill suited to its task; rather than reclined comfortably in a nice soft chair with controller neatly in my hands. Alas.
The moral of this story, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I missed you too PC gaming... you cantankerous old bastard.
Update: After a few hours of research, I managed to get the game to run very reasonably throughout the first dungeon. Everything was fine, including the control scheme, and I ironed out a few minor bugs on the way. It was al looking quite good. Very good in fact.
However, once I reached the overworld, things quickly took a turn for the worse. It looked terrible, crashed continuously and I have neither the time nor the inclination to basically debug Bethesda's beta software. So Oblivion is going to stay on the shelf for a few years. Maybe when I next upgrade my main rig, the game will be playable. Until then, I'm not wasting my time with what is essentially a buggy Xbox360 port.
My advise to anyone considering purchasing the game is to leave this one to stew for a year or two, because it's not finished.
The new Slashdot CSS redesign is here. I suppose we can all learn to live with it. I've got some misgivings about the contrast, but I imagine I'll get used to it. The font has also changed to sans, but I guess I'll get used to that too.
There is one thing, however, that really is bugging me. And it isn't just a trivial gripe. It's the new font size. In short, it's too small. What's worse, horror of horrors, this change has been applied to the comments section.
My eyesight's not the best, and I imagine most slashdotters have less than 20/20 vision. I run at 1024x768 resolution normally, and it's my understanding that many people run even higher than this. I can only presume that the main site's text would be around 3mm tall on a 17'' monitor at 1280x1024. I can't see that this is a good thing for the eyes.
I don't agree with the view that "smaller looks better", when it comes to text, or indeed, any UI at all. I blame winamp for the recent trend towards ever smaller font and button sizes, but I digress.
The most important thing about any redesign is keeping the site useable. In the case of Slashdot, most users are simply reading text, sometimes writing. in this regard, the redesign has slipped up,(not failed, just slipped up) in that reading has now been made harder by the smaller text. This isn't a small issue, it's a big one.
Reasons for the slip up? Perhaps CmdrTaco sits too close to the screen? Perhaps he's got a 22'' monitor? Perhaps he has better eyesight than most of us. Regardless, this is a serious issue, and needs to be addressed.
It's time. I've moved to KDE.
The long list of grievances I've suffered uder GNOME is simply too long to recount, here or anywhere. The last straw was, in the end, nautilus' removal of an address bar, and so I could not type in, for instance, smb://, anywhere.
And before anyone tries to point out that there really was an address bar there somewhere if I'd just typed ctrl-/ or something, I simply don't care anymore.
KDE is looking good already. Quite frankly, Konsole alone is enough of a reason to make the switch. The system is responsive and options and customisation are where I expect them to be, and do what I expect them to do. I'm not too fond of the lack of history in the CPU monitor applet, but sacrafices must be made I suppose.
In the end though, it was not KDE that lured me away. It was Gnome's beligerance that forced me to find better pastures. Simply put, it's a disaster I don't care to try and live with, or fix. I'm aware of KDE's issues with TrollTech, and it does bother me, but frankly in my opinion, Gnome are abusing the FOSS movements goodwill towards their GPL'ed status.
Gnome isn't going to change, so I am instead.
His back of the envelope calculation is that Linux is about 10,000 bugs away from being fully world-domination ready -- or about 50 man-years -- and some of those bugs are due to lack of support from device manufacturers.
A second dupe by ScuttleMonkey in less than 48 hours.
To rub salt into the wound, the second dupe poster deliberately did so, as is evident from his "anti-slash" style site. This guy is probably a playfull kind of troll. But I don't critisise his actions. I applaud them.
Exposure of corruption is an applaudable act, and incompetance is the worst form of corruption. Anything done to expose the steadily growing incompetance of the Slashdot editorial team is good in my book.
I could post an entire rant about the whole Slashdot editorial system, but instead, I'll just ask one question. One question to the Slashdot editors. Only one. Yes or No. Not a difficult one, not a hidden trap. I won't follow up on it. I'm not going to harp on it. I'm not going to challenge any answers you give. I won't even respond to them. Just one question.
Does ScuttleMonkey read the Slashdot Front Page?
That's it. Yes or no. If any of the Slashdot editors ever read this, or hear of it, it would be nice to get an answer. That's all I'm asking for. Nothing more.
Yes, or No?
Nuclear energy is getting a lot of press lately. Most of it good. It was inevitable given the rising price of oil, that nuclear proponents would finally have their place in the sun. Here's some of my thoughts on this issue, for anyone who might give a fiddlers for the opinions of one lone maths freak.
The main reason nuclear energy is being pushed so much lately is because of the rising price of oil. Nuclear proponents are now being listened to by those looking around for alternate sources of energy. It actually has very little to do with the safety, cost and/or enviornmental impact issues. The nuclear situation hasn't changed a whole lot in the last five years, or inded the last fifty.
The arguments for nuclear energy are in fact, exactly the same ones that were put forward in the fifties. Namely a cheaper, cleaner, more efficient form of energy. There is a large degree of truth to all these arguments, and possibly more so now than when nuclear reactors were first proposed.
So the big question here is, if nuclear power is so great, then why haven't we switched to it in the meantime?
The most important reason for the lack of switch is, or rather was, cheap oil. Oil burning generators were quite simply too cheap to pass up. But now, with the rising cost of oil, this has changed.
Another reason for our relative lack of nuclear plants is essentially their bad public reputation, not all of which is unjustified. The reasons for this bad rep are varied.
First, is the connection in the public mind between nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs. This connection is made ever more concrete with TV shows and movies having plotlines where reactors are essentially turned into nuclear bombs by terrorists and the like.
But hollywood fantasy aside, this link in the public mind is justified to a some degree. The radioactive byproducts of commerical nuclear reactors are in fact key components in nuclear armaments; plutonium being the chief amoung these. With an increase in nuclear reactors, there will be an inevitable increase in the raw material for nuclear weapons so to speak. And so with the proliferation of nuclear power, it is not beyond reason to conjecture nuclear weapons proliferation as well.
The second reason for public mistrust of nuclear power is the radiation factor. Radiation and radiation poisioning are unknown factors for most of the human population. Again this situation is not helped by hollywood dramatisations of the effects of radiation. In some cases, outright fantasy scenarios of nuclear "fallout" involving mutated monsters roaming a desertified landscape prey on the public mind.
Still, again there is some justification in the public being cautious on this issue. Radioactive substances are dangerous substance and should not be treated lightly. Some might argue that this is no more so the case with radiation than with other harmful chemical and biological substances. However, unlike most chemical and biological agents, radioactive substances have an irritatingly long "half life", which increases significantly the duration of any contamination by comparision to a chemical spill.
If we take the recent Harbin Benzene spill in China as an example. This chemical spill has affected millions and caused considerable enviormental damage; fish kills etc. However, to a greater or lesser extent, most of the benzene will wash away or break down into less harmful chemicals. But could the same be said of the spill contained radioactive material?
Radioactive material dumped within the watershed of a major river like the Mississippi or the Rhine is something the public should be wary of. To a greater or lesser degree than a chemical spill, or indeed, the dumping of fumes into the atmosphere? Time will tell on this one.
Arguably the biggest reason for public skepticism for nuclear power is the track record of the nuclear industry. Chernobyl was, and remains, the biggest argument against nuclear energy. 300,000 people were displaced, a city and its hinterland was essentially written off of the books, and the on going medical and social problems currently affect millions. No accident at an oil or gas plant, no matter how severe, can come close to the level of destruction wrought by Chernobyl. The Harbin benzene spill, despite its severity, pales in comparision. Harbin is not a write off.
On a more day to day basis, the nuclear industry does have numerous blemishes. Three Mile Island being the most infamous. More serious and ongoing is a somewhat cavalier attitude towards the radioativity, with highly radioative cooling ponds existing outside many reactors, as well as incidents at Sellafield, where actual material was simply dumped into the ponds, and close to 30kg of plutonium have literally gone missing. The nuclear industry is run by human beings, who, for whatever reason, do not always run things as they should be run.
Still, it seems unfair to tarnish the entire industry with one brush. The majority of nuclear plants seem to have been run without incident. But as the amount of nuclear plansts increases, and if regulations become lax to accommidate them, any leaks or loose ends in the industry's procedures will become more apparent. The industry has a chance to grow now, but it may end up shooting itself in the foot if things go awry.
The last reason for public mistrust involves the disposal of nuclear material. And this is arguably the biggest of all the headaches associated with nuclear energy. Techniques may have improved, and the argument against the polluting nature of coal and oil fumes are put forward, but essentially the solution to nuclear waste material is to throw it in a big concrete lined hole and hope it will go away. The industry likes to think otherwise, as all polluters do, the coal and oil burners, the garbage disposal companies etc.. .
To be sure these disposal drums may be sophisticated, but the public still misturst the whole business. It is the low tech back end to the illustriously high tech nuclear industry. The wonders of nuclear energy, almost mystical in their abilities to the public, are brought back down to earth by the images of drums of material being dumped into a pit, to sit there for a hundred years not to become non-radioactive, but only "as" radioactive as natural uranium. Joe public might not know the ins and outs of radioactive decay, but he knows dumping when he sees it.
But again is this an issue? Especially compared to oil and coal etc... ? It certainly will be if these disposal drums are not constructed to the highest standards. Again, a leaking drum in the water supply of a major city would be a disaster. Arguably more so from a public relations rather than a health perspective. Not that health effects might not be significant. As nuclear power increases, and waste material increases, the nuclear industry would do best to go out of its way to ensure that dumping remains shiny clean nuclear's dirty little secret, otherwise the whole industry will be set back all over again.
Nuclear power has benefits, but it has some drawbacks as well, like most things. Unfortunately, some of the drawbacks of nuclear power are very serious indeed, and it will take real and sustained efforts to ensure that nuclear remains safe as well as cheap. My biggest worry is that cheap will win the day, and the only driver of safety and professionalism in the nuclear industry, like in any other, will be a serious accident or disaster. It is a sad fact that people must often be killed before industry is made to take things seriously.
The letter spouts the usual Microsoft-campaign FUD about the decision purportedly locking out 'market forces' (read: Microsoft, who is threatening to not support the format), costing the Commonwealth more money (ignoring the cost of updating to Office-Vista) and various other pieces of half-truth and misdirection.
For those who are interested, I also have my own rant on evaluating Microsoft Office by Microsoft's own criterion.
I wonder if anyone uses their Slashdot Journals anymore in this age of blogging. It's like everyone and his grandma is running a blogging service of one kind or another.
Looks like the Slashdot eds are toying with the idea of giving the old place a lick of paint and a brush up. Frequently reloading the Slashdot homepage will bring up the following
Horror!! Changing the Slashdot Slogan(TM)!! Such blasphemy will not go unpunished! Then again when you've run with the same slogan for eight years...? Oh well, I guess we're overdue for the apocalypse anyway. This would also help explain my ever decreasing estimation on Deathclock.
Slogan change aside, I'd just like to say that the watermark circuitboard scheme will NOT work as a face background not matter how much you tweak it. Face backgrounds should be plain. In the title maybe, but for the love of God don't condenm the world's tech head population to a lifetime of squinting painfully at headlines. Even though most of the clever ones have switched to RSS feeds by now. It's the comfy chair for them! With TWO coffees at eleven!!
There's yet another discussion about Half-Life 2 and Steam going on. Some might wonder why so many slashdotters defend Valve, yet would scream blue murder if Microsoft ever tried anything remotely like Steam.
Two reasons I think.
One, the games section is populated by windows pc gamers, more so that regular tech heads. Most of these are young and innocent when it comes to IP issues. Kind of like a missing link between regular users and frequent slashdotters. Anyway, these gamers do love their games and the companies that make them and will brook no critisisms of them. They're also more likely to be confused by comments slamming windows XP, as they still regard it as "Way cool! I have a computer with XP!"
Two, Steam gives you Half-Life 2 which is a very popular video game. An MS scheme along the same lines would just give you Windows. Not so popular. People will support one and not the other simply because Steam gives them something they really want. I'm sure if Half-Life 2 was awful, no-one would support steam. It's kind of like people who've eaten whale meat, at special restauraunts.(Before you burn my house down, I haven't) Anyway, these people, having tasted the whales flesh are much more open to the idea of hunting whales than other. Well, I know of at least one person who was dead set against hunting whales, a big conservationist. He went abroad, sniffed a whale meat stand, took a bite, and now he's softened up to the whole idea. Apparently it tastes like beef, go figure. The point is, slashdotters hated Steam, then they tasted Half-Life 2, and now they're alright with the whole idea of Valve licencing a video game. We're all just animals underneath it all!
My 2 cents.
Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai