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Comment Re:Probably not. Sorry. (Score 0) 215

- Various other major bugfixes, particularly a fix to the "can't alt-tab out of full-screen mode" bug, which was present in FFXI as well.

Would people stop propagating this myth that Alt+Tab is a bug? It's not a bug and Square-Enix said so. The PC version of FFXI was intended to be full-screen only without the ability to Alt+Tab, and the linked notice clearly implies it was implemented to prevent the use of cheating tools. (The effectiveness of that is beside the point.)

Comment Re:I Talked to a Couple of Beta Testers (Score 1) 401

Pretty good job? It was hard enough just pulling down patches and logging in during the limited alpha/beta windows, usually only 5-6 hours at night a few days a week, with the game blacked out the rest of the time. I tried to file bug reports and the form gave me an error, with no secondary way to contact them. Then they only wanted to solicit certain types of feedback per testing period, and if you didn't post within a few days you were SOL -- they locked the discussion thread. It was like going down a checklist: we've asked about item x for two weeks, now we'll move on to item y, we don't want to hear about item x again.

I played FFXI for several years after the North America launch. The game wasn't perfect, but eventually I got the hang of the controls and could navigate the UI without looking. Even with the lack of English-language sites documenting the quests, missions, jobs, weapons, etc. at the NA launch, most of the game mechanics made sense. With FFXIV, it's like they tried to come up with a more in-depth, customizable version of FFXI and ended up with a horribly complex and convoluted system. The XP system was unclear, they were offering job classes which were unplayable during the early stages of beta (and not warning people or removing the class option), and then there were the laggy menus with laggy submenus containing laggy submenus leading to laggy submenus ending in more laggy submenus, etc. In FFXI, attacking a monster with the keys was simple: tab to it (target name in bottom-left corner, monster highlighted with an arrow above it) and then Enter x2 (confirm target & issue attack command) to attack. I could keep my left hand over WASD and my right over the arrows and still comfortably play thief -- a class which required a lot of positioning and timed macros to play effectively. The controls in FFXIV just never made sense -- this coming from a PC gamer who has never felt the need for a gamepad.

I was appalled by the beta. It looked and played like some piece of concept code. At least in its day, FFXI was a notable contender in the MMO space, with its international reach (auto-translate was vital for playing outside of your region's peak hours) and broad player base (console & PC). FFXIV just looks like something S-E threw together to meet a deadline.

Comment Re:Why do traders have such worst-case rules? (Score 1) 460

You can easily lose more than what you set because of situations like this. If it moves faster than you can sell for that amount, you will sell at below your stop loss number. You can set it at 40% and lose 99%

And this is why you only use a stop-limit order. You can place your stop at a price reflecting a 40% loss with a limit reflecting a 45% loss. Using May 6 as an example, a stock trading at $50.00 that printed at $0.01 would trigger the 40% stop, but your order wouldn't fill below $22.50, limiting your loss to 45%. (And your trade would not have been busted by the Clearly Erroneous Ruling Policy, since the criteria was price deviation greater/less than 60% from the last print at or before 2:40 PM ET.)

Some brokerage firms offer both stop and stop-limit order types. In a world of millisecond trading, using a stop-loss is playing with fire.

Apple

Psystar Activation Servers Down? 245

An anonymous reader writes "I purchased Rebel EFI in support of Psystar's crusade back in October. Just 3 short months later, I have no support. I found this out when I upgraded my hard drive and installed Snow Leopard using Rebel EFI. The program can no longer 'phone home' to activate or download/install drivers. This is a direct contradiction to Psystar's promise posted on their website: 'Psystar will continue to support all of its existing customers of hardware and software through this transitional period. Warranties on hardware will continue to be honored as long the customer has a valid warranty. Rebel EFI support for existing customers, as always, will remain exclusively available through email and the built-in ticket interface.' Has anyone else run into this issue? It has been 9 days with no response from Psystar by e-mail or phone."
PC Games (Games)

EA Shutting Down Video Game Servers Prematurely 341

Spacezilla writes "EA is dropping the bomb on a number of their video game servers, shutting down the online fun for many of their Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 games. Not only is the inclusion of PS3 and Xbox 360 titles odd, the date the games were released is even more surprising. Yes, Madden 07 and 08 are included in the shutdown... but Madden 09 on all consoles as well?"

Comment Re:Fairness? (Score 3, Informative) 319

Why are people complaining? Take a basic individual plan and a basic (Moto W755) phone on Verizon:

  • 2-year contract
    • Monthly plan: $39.99/mo
    • Phone: $0
    • Cancel after 1 year: $654.88 ($479.88 + $175 termination)
    • 2-year cost: $959.76
  • Month-to-month contract
    • Monthly plan: $39.99/mo
    • Phone: $249.99
    • 1-year cost: $729.87
    • 2-year base cost: $1209.75

It's still cheaper after one year to pay the full $175 ETF on-contract than go month-to-month because they inflate the "real" cost of the phone. The month-to-month plan is nothing more than a veiled warm-and-fuzzy to the people who want to "stick it to the phone company."

Comment Re:Except for Domain Controllers.. (Score 2, Informative) 201

Agreed...when I was reading up for one of the Server 2008 AD MCTS exams, I cloned a base VM image of Server 2008 to simulate two DCs, a file server, an IIS/application server, etc. I had to download and run NewSID because every server I joined to the domain (i.e. the "primary" DC) had problems getting joined correctly. I don't recall the specifics but Server 2008 did throw a hissy fit and I had to run NewSID on each VM prior to joining before I could do anything else.

Data Storage

The Sidekick Failure and Cloud Culpability 246

miller60 writes "There's a vigorous debate among cloud pundits about whether the apparent loss of all Sidekick users' data is a reflection on the trustworthiness of cloud computing or simply another cautionary tale about poor backup practices. InformationWeek calls the incident 'a code red cloud disaster.' But some cloud technologists insist data center failures are not cloud failures. Is this distinction meaningful? Or does the cloud movement bear the burden of fuzzy definitions in assessing its shortcomings as well as its promise?"
Bug

Server Failure Destroys Sidekick Users' Backup Data 304

Expanding on the T-Mobile data loss mentioned in an update to an earlier story, reader stigmato writes "T-Mobile's popular Sidekick brand of devices and their users are facing a data loss crisis. According to the T-Mobile community forums, Microsoft/Danger has suffered a catastrophic server failure that has resulted in the loss of all personal data not stored on the phones. They are advising users not to turn off their phones, reset them or let the batteries die in them for fear of losing what data remains on the devices. Microsoft/Danger has stated that they cannot recover the data but are still trying. Already people are clamoring for a lawsuit. Should we continue to trust cloud computing content providers with our personal information? Perhaps they should have used ZFS or btrfs for their servers."

Comment Re:G-Mail? (Score 2, Informative) 594

The balance sheet will break out assets and liabilities on a specific basis and you can clearly see where the banks got burned - mortgages, mortgage-backed, and asset-backed securities, on both the assets and liabilities -- basically, assets which the banks clearly didn't know how to count. (See Merrill Lynch's 10-K as an example.) For ML, there were massive losses in securities financing transactions, mortgage/asset-backed securities, and considerable losses on derivatives in 2008. The summarized balance sheet clearly shows what happened -- high leverage levels means that it only takes a 3% drop to wipe out shareholder equity (for ML, it was barely 3% - $667.5b in assets against $20b in equity) and ML saw a 34.56% decline in assets FY08 ($1t in FY07 to $667.5b in FY08). They got the leverage to 13.18 in Q1 2009 (down to 13.18 on $569.8b assets, $529.6b liabilities, $40.2b equity) which gave them a 7% cushion, but with a 14.6% decline in assets during the quarter. Profits and share issuance can help raise the equity and counter a drop in assets, but you're pretty much screwed trying to make up a 34% decline.

The ratio for ML reached its peak at the end of 2008, as the subprime mortgage market cratered:

  • 2004 - 20.02
  • 2005 - 19.13
  • 2006 - 20.57
  • 2007 - 30.94
  • 2008 - 32.37
  • Q1 2009 - 13.18

There's always been a race between big financial firms to beat each other to the very last penny (the concept of "flash" trading, for instance, has a hint of desperation in it) so one by one they decided to out-leverage each other to bring in bigger profits faster. It's a risk management problem -- ML bet their future in FY06 on continued success in prime brokerage and securities financing, as well as commercial and residential mortgage loans and long-term debt, while ignoring a 18% drop in equity due to a net loss in continuing ops, stock repurchases, and dividend payments of $1.40/share.

Comment Re:maybe if they used their release notification l (Score 1) 103

You (and only you) access your Wordpress blog twice a month to make a semi-monthly post.
You see the admin panel when you log in.
The admin panel shows you when an update is available.
Therefore, you may be up to a half a month behind on update notifications delivered through the admin panel.

A half a month doesn't sound like a big deal but look at the most recent releases:

  • 2.8.1 - July 9, 2009
  • 2.8.2 - July 20, 2009
  • 2.8.3 - August 3, 2009
  • 2.8.4 - August 12, 2009

They really need an e-mail distribution list for those not already monitoring the development blog via RSS or security blogs, because 10 days is a reasonable amount of time for someone to not log into their blog. It has nothing to do with whether you use the admin panel or not, and everything to do with the critical "fix for a fix" that comes barely two weeks later.

Comment Re:Blackboard execs should all be killed (Score 1) 142

Actually, I am quite familiar with it. Maybe your downtime was due to a poor server setup? A poor network setup? A poor computer setup? All of the above. Maybe it was implemented incorrectly? There are a lot of factors that would give you a poor user experience...that doesn't necessarily mean the software was crappy (though it could have also been the software itself).

Blackboard had multiple major software/hardware failures at their own Virginia datacenter hosting Blackboard for schools on Blackboard's own equipment. They had network cards write bad data for such a long period of time that the best backup Bb had would've resulted in nearly a week's worth of lost data (at the end of a semester, no less); they had major database corruption that required bringing in a 24/7 team of Oracle techs; they had a network component failure bring down the datacenter for several hours. In two semesters their own hosting had a week's worth of unplanned outages.

Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 274

No longer working as intended? What possessed Microsoft to change these three features:

  • Add-Ins: previously at Tools --> Add-Ins; now at Office Menu --> [program] Options --> Add-Ins --> Go
  • File properties (the Windows Explorer version): previously at File --> Properties; now at Office Menu --> Prepare --> Properties --> Document Properties --> Advanced Properties
  • Start Slide Show quick-button: previously at bottom-left, now at bottom-right

So...the menu structure clearly wasn't letting people find the first two features, so they put them into a new menu and required two or three more clicks than before, including actions which are clearly repetitive? (Once the document properties "window" is open, I still have to click Document Properties --> Advanced Properties to get the Explorer version of properties?) I find it hard to believe that they moved the "start slide show" button from the left to the right because "people couldn't find it." (If they couldn't find it on the left, why would they suddenly find it on the right?)

Comment Re:Can some American please explain to me... (Score 1) 232

Your money is gone until you call the bank and they replace the funds pending an investigation. If you have $1000 in a checking account and someone fraudulently charges $1000 to that account's debit card, of course you can dispute the charge and likely get your money back. Your balance, however, is $0 *until* the bank replaces the money. E.g. if you had auto bill-pay run the same day for $200 and didn't see the $1000 fraudulent charge until the next day or received an overdraft notice, you'd overdraft by $200.

I would never use a debit card on my primary checking account for that very reason. At least if I need to dispute a fraudulent charge on my credit card, I don't have to worry about being temporarily out of $1000 and waiting a day or two for the bank to replace my money.

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