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Submission + - Chistopher Hitchens passes away (bbc.co.uk)

Things_falling_apart writes: Noted atheist and writer Christopher Hitchens has passed from pneumonia. Always controversial, the world has lost a leading intellectual, one who devoted an entire lifetime to change the world. Whether you loved or hated him, we should all take a moment to reflect on this loss and be inspired to do our best to make the world a better place, as he would have wanted.
Software

Submission + - New Call Center Software Will Knows When You're An 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Telegraph reports that researchers have developed new voice recognition software that detects how users are feeling that could be used in automated call centers to route inquiries differently according to the emotional state of the caller. The researchers looked closely at the anger, boredom and doubt that people often experience when talking to automated call center voices and by examining tone of voice, the speed of speech, the duration of pauses, the energy of the voice signal and up to a total of sixty different ‘acoustic parameters’, they have produced computer models of what people sound like according to the emotions they are feeling. “Thanks to this new development, the machine will be able to determine how the user feels and how the caller intends to continue the dialog (PDF)”, claims David Griol one of its creators. "For example, a dialog management strategy could be as follows: If the emotional state is Angry apologize and transfer the call to a human operator immediately.""

Comment Re:Phil Plait is not a bad astronomer (Score 1) 84

His original site was all about debunking myths and misconceptions related to astronomy. Here is the link to his original site: http://www.badastronomy.com/index.html He changed to a blog format when he joined the discover magazine network. His name refered to him pointing out bad astronomy in the movies and TV. Not really all that hard to understand why he has his name. He got pretty well known and discover magazine put him on the payroll and since he was well known, he kept his moniker.

Comment Re:Inflated Membership Numbers (Score 1) 265

Because the media leaves their parents basement once in a while and notices in every direction in a reasonably populated area that there is either:
a) multiple conversations that the word facebook comes up every 3rd sentence
b) sees someone using their internet connected device (ie - smartphone, Ipad, DSi, netbook, etc) on facebook.

My suggestion is leave the house once in a while.

Games

Balancing Choice With Irreversible Consequences In Games 352

The Moving Pixels blog has an article about the delicate balance within video games between giving players meaningful choices and consequences that cannot necessarily be changed if the player doesn't like her choice afterward. Quoting: "One of my more visceral experiences in gaming came recently while playing Mass Effect 2, in which a series of events led me to believe that I'd just indirectly murdered most of my crew. When the cutscenes ended, I was rocking in my chair, eyes wide, heart pounding, and as control was given over to me once more, I did the only thing that I thought was reasonable to do: I reset the game. This, of course, only led to the revelation that the event was preordained and the inference that (by BioWare's logic) a high degree of magical charisma and blue-colored decision making meant that I could get everything back to normal. ... Charitably, I could say BioWare at least did a good job of conditioning my expectations in such a way that the game could garner this response, but the fact remains: when confronted with a consequence that I couldn't handle, my immediate player's response was to stop and get a do-over. Inevitability was only something that I could accept once it was directly shown to me."
Piracy

Call of Duty: Black Ops the Most Pirated Game of the Year 5

Torrentfreak reports that after calculating download frequency for pirated copies of popular video games, Call of Duty: Black Ops has won the dubious honor of being the most pirated game of 2010. The PC version of the game was torrented roughly 4,270,000 times, and the Xbox 360 version was downloaded an additional 930,000 times. (The most pirated Wii game was Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Dante's Inferno somehow managed to accrue the most downloads of Xbox 360 games.) Fortunately for Activision, the game has still made over $1 billion in sales, and its 20,000,000+ players have racked up over 600,000,000 man-hours of play time since the game's launch in early November.
Television

The Future of Web Video At Stake In Comcast-NBC Regulatory Review 121

Phoghat writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "It won't be long before video from the Internet is always within reach — whether it's on a smart phone, a tablet computer or a high-end television in your living room. But what if there's nothing worth watching? ... Regulators are pushing for tough conditions to ensure that Comcast can't stifle online video services by withholding content or pushing up prices for marquee NBC programs at a time viewers are starting to turn to the Internet for recent movies or the latest episodes of 'Saturday Night Live,' '30 Rock' and other popular TV shows. The concessions they extract from Comcast in its bid for NBC will help determine whether customers can someday realistically drop their cable subscriptions and go online-only for their TV. ... Comcast has been resisting federal regulators' efforts to tear down some of those walls, arguing that those efforts are unnecessary because NBC Universal accounts for about 10 percent of television viewing in the US and less than 10 percent of US box office revenue — and is therefore too small to dictate how the industry will develop."

Comment Most boring day for posts (Score 1) 186

All these replies from people mentioning events that happened on this day in order to try to invalidate the claim that this wasn't the most boring day in history, and yet none of these are offering any suggestion of which day is a better contender. Please don't just say "this cannot be the most boring day because [insert random event] happened on this day!" and think you are clever without offering a new day which could take its place.

Space

X-37B Secret Space Plane To Land Soon 252

Phoghat writes "The highly classified X-37B Space Plane is scheduled to land soon. It was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on April 22 atop an Atlas 5 rocket, and the Air Force is still being very secretive on all aspects of the flight. We do know that it's set to touch down at Vandenberg Air Force Base's 15,000-foot runway, originally built for the Space Shuttle program. In many ways, the craft resembles a Shuttle with stubby wings, landing gear and a powerful engine that allows the craft to alter its orbit (much to the dismay of many observers on the ground). Its success has apparently given new life to its predecessor, the X-34, which had been mothballed."
Software

CDE — Making Linux Portability Easy 385

ihaque writes "A Stanford researcher, Philip Guo, has developed a tool called CDE to automatically package up a Linux program and all its dependencies (including system-level libraries, fonts, etc!) so that it can be run out of the box on another Linux machine without a lot of complicated work setting up libraries and program versions or dealing with dependency version hell. He's got binaries, source code, and a screencast up. Looks to be really useful for large cluster/cloud deployments as well as program sharing. Says Guo, 'CDE is a tool that automatically packages up the Code, Data, and Environment involved in running any Linux command so that it can execute identically on another computer without any installation or configuration. The only requirement is that the other computer have the same hardware architecture (e.g., x86) and major kernel version (e.g., 2.6.X) as yours. CDE allows you to easily run programs without the dependency hell that inevitably occurs when attempting to install software or libraries. You can use CDE to allow your colleagues to reproduce and build upon your computational experiments, to quickly deploy prototype software to a compute cluster, and to submit executable bug reports.'"
Education

Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming? 240

Proudrooster writes "Fellow Slashdotters, I have transitioned to teaching and my students have asked me what is the best path to take to work in the video game programming industry. Which would be of more benefit: pursing a Computer Science degree or taking an accelerated program like those at FullSail? I have a CS degree, and suspect that the CS degree would be of more benefit in the long run, but I would like anyone in the industry to share their wisdom and experience with my students trying to follow in your footsteps. If you could recommend some programs in your replies it would be appreciated." A couple other questions that might help those students: what non-academic methods would you recommend to students looking for a career in the games industry? What projects and tools are good starting points for learning the ropes?

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