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Music

Submission + - William Shatner Covers 'Friday' (dirtygarnet.com) 2

Robotron23 writes: In a shock return to music, William Shatner has released a cover of Internet sensation Rebecca Black's 'Friday' . The spoken word cover was originally to have been Auto-Tuned, but an angered Shatner announced: "I'm not having any pitch corrections distorting my voice." Critics are calling the Shatner cover the first to improve rather than reduce the quality of the original song.
Robotics

Submission + - Robot Actress Makes Stage Debut In Japan (bbc.co.uk)

Robotron23 writes: The BBC reports that a robot named Geminoid-F has made it's acting debut in Japan. The short play in which it appeared was a sellout with the Japanese public who were curious to see the robot's performance. However an actress who co-starred pointed out that the lack of human presence made the droid difficult to act alongside.

Comment Hands (Score 5, Funny) 554

Since human hands can be employed to lethal ends, I daresay these evil and completely non-essential items frequently found on a person's being could be next on the chopping board.

I personally am more worried about them banning lumpy fruit salad; there is no greater joy than at the start of a flight covertly emptying a plastic packet of it into a sick bag:

Halfway through the flight post-meal very loudly pretend to vomit into said bag, then proceed to eat the fruit salad out of it with a little plastic spoon.

As for those who notice...they'll remember you for years!

Comment Meth (Score 4, Interesting) 330

I read the title as 'Meth':

For once a misreading made perfect sense in the summary title's context: use of amphetamines throughout World War II on land and air personnel is well-documented. There's a phrase one hears infrequently that amphetamines 'won the Battle of Britain' - fending off constant attack from the Luftwaffe made necessary the use of stimulants as hiring and training a new pilot took too long. Whether it really did tip the scales in that battle we'll never know. As one would expect abuse orose within both Allied and Axis forces, and the spike in use persisted after the war. The Vietnam conflict saw American troops use methamphetamine very widely, and today the drug is popular amongst the poor as a relatively inexpensive stimulant.

If there's anything that isn't widely known by the public and merits publicizing it's history of drugs such as this in the context of 20th century events like warfare. What laid ground for a forerunner to the modern drugs situation to me represents a phenomena of greater gravity than the serial numbers of tanks which one would expect would be used simply through using good old oxymoronic common sense.

Presently there's a drug by the name of 'Modafinil' which mimics amphetamine but removes almost entirely the euphoric element and much of the crash that accompanies sudden cessation. It has been around for a number of years, and sees much use in modern conflicts. It also has much off-label use, and has even been used by astronauts to cope with heavy exercise regimens.

Crime

Submission + - British Man Jailed For Refusing To Reveal Password (bbc.co.uk)

Robotron23 writes: In one of the first cases of its kind, 19 year old Oliver Drage of Liverpool, UK has been jailed for 18 weeks for refusing to give up a password to his computer. Police who made the arrest were tackling child sexual exploitation. Drage worked in fast-food service and had no prior criminal record. Police are still attempting to crack his sophisticated 50 character password. A detective on the case termed his sentence the 'ultimate sanction'.

Comment Re:Wine? (Score 2, Interesting) 380

Raises an interesting point; in Civilization IV do you need to have researched a technology required to gather a luxury resource like wine to be able to receive it in a trade?

It's plain to see you can't get strategical goods like iron in trade without Iron Working and so on, but as a casual Civ player I'm uncertain about less vital things like luxury resources...

If you do need the tech, then it's certain you'll need Monarchy for wine; probability won't enter the equation.

Comment King of Kong portrayals (Score 1) 127

I'd enjoy hearing how accurate the portrayals of the rivals were in The King of Kong. I bought that film after seeing it mentioned here on Slashdot; fantastic entertainment for those who recall the 1980s and younger people who aren't as acquianted with the arcade culture since the decline that happened after that decade elapsed.

In the documentary, Steve Wiebe was portrayed as a geeky underrachieving family man; all around a likable, modest chap who'd arrived at competing for Donkey Kong's high score much later than the era in which it was 'mainstream' to play.

Billy Mitchell was portrayed as a proud, competitive, somewhat disgruntled insider who'd been affiliated with the judging body Twin Galaxies and the videogame high score scene since the beginning. To my mind he didn't seem near as affable or appealing a person as Wiebe.

This is the age of manipulative editing, and in a 'reality' type production such as The King of Kong I'm a bit wary of a disturbed chronology enacted to favour the rivalry and contrast elements. Does anyone here have anything to verify or debunk the film's portrayals?

Idle

Submission + - If The PopeMobile Gets Bazooka'd, Blame Atheists (guardian.co.uk)

Robotron23 writes: Pope Benedict XVI, who is on a UK visit, received heavy criticism following his remarks comparing followers of atheism with Nazi extremists. The Pope's £75,000 bulletproof Mercedes, the 'PopeMobile', transports Benedict from place to place. A British commentator remarked that only a missile could pierce the car's chassis, and that if it did atheists could be blamed.

Comment Trial and error (Score 2, Interesting) 715

Biggest issue with computer problems is that it requires trial and error procedure to identify the problem component. My latest component to fail was a faulty RAM stick - often testing the system by removing individual RAM sticks is a good first step.

Sometimes it can be a hard drive fault - could be a data issue which is remedied by a thorough format, though it's possible for disks to develop hardware faults. CPU problems are often more obvious than memory or HD - sudden shutdowns and even motherboard messages upon startup that allude to the processor can indicate where the problem lies.

Video card is usually obvious; visually through artifacts or overall display errors. Many motherboards today have onboard display components appended which, if you remove the GPU unit and install drivers, can clue one in as to whether or not the GPU is acting up.

Power supplies are less formulaic, but are also vital. If you've a bad PSU it can potentially fry an entire system should it have a fault - obviously that's costly and frustrating unless you derive more pleasure from a loud, sudden bang and a bricked system than you would a remedied, alive computer.

Obviously buying reputable brands rather than obscure 'third-party' manufactured components is wise. Product reviews tend to crop up recently after purchase - a component could perform well for awhile then perish, with few reviews online reflecting this. That said I've bought various computer hardware over the years and some obscure China-made stuff has performed as well as pricier, renowned brand equivalents.

For the time being we've still this incumbent trial and error equation facing nerds. Chances are if you own one or more computers some suspected hardware fault will crop up. For nerds who build their own computers this is somewhat less of an issue; an annoyance that can be dealt with. To my mind, the best method is to be very speedy and rigorous if you believe there's a hardware issue - a software malady tends to be (in home computer cases) innocuous; you just backup any wanted files and format the hard disk. Hardware problems can hinder or even damage a system permanently.

Comment Nikon DSLR & accessory tips (Score 1) 342

I bought a Nikon D300S for photojournalism and recreational uses not long ago. For anyone looking at an entry-level professional model I'd go for this. It's got pretty much everything an aspiring photographer needs. Prior to mid-2009 there was the D300 which inferior in terms of shutter speed to the full frame model the D700. However when Nikon replaced the D300 and appended the 's' it moved much closer to the D700 with the only defining feature separating the two being full frame.

Full frame is a new-fangled luxury. If you're not an extremely engaged artist or studio photographer the use of the FF feature is pretty limited. The results gained relative to the greater cost just aren't worthwhile for most folks. I take a general mixture of shots which are used on websites and in print publications it just isn't necessary. Put it this way; the D300S exceeds any camera 20 years ago. Not forgetting that the dark film and film rolls have all but dissapeared.

For comparison: D300S is about £1,100 new. D700 is circa £1,700. One can shave roughly equal proportions buying used (usually in the region of 20-30%) but as said...FF is swanky and a great thing, just not of much consequence. Be wary when buying used; there are reputable exchanges out there and it's generally best to stick to those.

A great backup camera is the D3000 which is currently sold on Amazon which a nice little Nikkor kit lens for about £350. This is an enthusiast level DSLR capable of some decent shots. However bear in mind that for fast shooting it is inferior. Therefore it's best kept for non-speed intensive work like macro (close-up) photography, or for backup use in case of battery issues or the unlikely scenario that the primary cam becomes faulty. On occasion I do need to take a shot of a moving, transient object which means rattling off 6 or 7 shots a second - the lower end cams can't achieve this and thus represent a refined, high-end holiday camera.

Accessories wise...always go for Lowepro backpacks; these are secure (waiststrap and rear-side clips over camera pocket) and you can append locks for security - try to conceal locks as they're a sign you're carrying valuables. Lots of models available; they hold laptops, and have ample space for one to pack food, drink, perhaps a GPS or map etc. Certain models allow for a full-length tripod to be attached.

For indoor photography, get the SB-400 flash and attach a cable to it to grant it the swivel function. This saves you cash having to buy the higher-end SB-600 or SB-800 speedlights - the results from a swivel-capable 400 are fine for most folks, it's a competant flash for use on cloudy days and at night within close range, especially if light from a streetlamp or building augments the illumination.

Lenses...go for a 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 Nikkor for general all-purpose use. If money is an issue just get this lense. For macro work there's a budget solution from Sigma; a 70-300mm great for capturing distance objects in for instance nature. Noise tends to be louder from the cheaper Sigma lenses...however in most cases it really isn't a problem, and you're saving a lot of cash on Nikkor lenses. Be aware that third-party brands do not replicate all types of lense well; best to check reviews and go along to a local shop to give any glass you've got your eye on a try.

Also if you do aim to go on treks, purchase a walking pole or cane. This helps a lot afterwards if you're rusty (as I was) when it comes to long walks. It isn't apparant at the time, but the endurance help a stick grants is great - plus it lessens blister and aches due to promoting balance and relieving pressure from the legs and spine.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Science Writer Ed Yong Reveals Custard Truths (dirtygarnet.com)

Robotron23 writes: Ed Yong of the popular British science magazine Discover has revealed results of his long-awaited custard research. Yong, an award-winning science writer, said he'd journeyed to the sprawling Amazonian rainforests to discover the origins of the popular dessert sauce. The results, to quote a certain sci-fi character, were "Fascinating..."

Comment Icons and memory (Score 2, Interesting) 384

About a decade back a technician built me a computer. I always remember him telling me to keep the icons to 'two rows maximum' to conserve memory. I had 128mb in RAM which was quite good for the end of 2000.

I always questioned his advice; if people were running 98 SE on say 32 or 64mb, surely a few icons wouldn't slow it down to by any significant proportion?

Nowadays I've 29 icons on a 1920x1080 res rig running Win7 as my primary. 10 icons a row, and no appreciable difference. I believe if you can keep the desktop manageable then there's no reason not to have many icons. My secondary PC (Ubuntu) has a comparitively modest 14 icons, but given that many on the Windoze box are game shortcuts it's understandable.

Before long home PCs are going to have over 10GB of RAM, and a few icons taking up a fraction of a megabyte (?) of random access is obviously no big deal unless you're disorganized to the point of overly cluttering the desktop.

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