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Submission + - Slashdot BETA Discussion (slashdot.org) 60

mugnyte writes: With Slashdot's recent restyled "BETA" slowly rolled to most users, there's been a lot of griping about the changes. This is nothing new, as past style changes have had similar effects. However, this pass there are significant usability changes: A narrower read pane, limited moderation filtering, and several color/size/font adjustments. BETA implies not yet complete, so taking that cue — please list your specific, detailed opinoins, one per comment, and let's use the best part of slashdot (the moderation system) to raise the attention to these. Change can be jarring, but let's focus on the true usability differences with the new style.

Submission + - One Tenth of China's Farmland Polluted with Heavy (china.org.cn)

eldavojohn writes: A report form China's Environmental Ministry reveals that one tenth of China's 1.22 million square kilometers of farmland are polluted with heavy metals and other toxins. The AFP lists 'lead, mercury and cancer-causing cadmium' and points to the rapid pace of China's industrialization as well as factories and their operators flouting regulations and laws. Cheap batteries and lead refineries are slowly turning China into a land where whole villages are poisoned (11 incidents so far this year). According to Human Rights Watch the government's response to this scourge is laughable. The poisoned are denied treatment and China's Environmental Ministry offers no possible help: 'The report documents how local authorities in contaminated areas have imposed arbitrary limits on access to blood lead testing, for example by permitting only people living within a small radius of a factory to be tested. When tests are conducted, results have often been contradictory or have been withheld from victims and their families. And children with elevated blood lead levels who require treatment according to national guidelines have been denied care or told simply to eat certain foods, including apples, garlic, milk, and eggs.'
Microsoft

Submission + - Windows is about to fragment (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: While there is a lot of excitement at the prospect of Windows "reimagined" in the form of Metro or WinRT, or whatever Microsoft finally settles on calling it but there is hidden and serious problem — fragmentation and Microsoft doesn't seem to have noticed.
Basically you have to ask yourself, what will the world look like when Windows 8 launches alongside Windows Phone 7 or 8? The problem is that Windows Phone is based on Silverlight and XNA and Windows 8 is based on WinRT and COM.
You will have tablets running apps that don't run on Windows phone and phone apps that don't run on Windows 8 tablets.
If you think Android fragmentation was bad with Honeycomb wait until Windows 8 hits the streets.

Classic Games (Games)

Hank Chien Reclaims Donkey Kong High Score 122

An anonymous reader writes "If you can say anything about Hank Chien, it's that he evidently doesn't take defeat very well. Sure, he knew not so deep down that his Donkey Kong World Record score wouldn't last forever, but he couldn't have foreseen that it would have been toppled so quickly. Twice, even. But he also knew that more Kong competition would be coming his way; namely Richie Knucklez Kong-Off in March. So Hank had something to prove, and prove he did. Scoring a massive 1,068,000 points in less than three hours, Hank has officially reclaimed the high score in Nintendo’s 1981 arcade classic."
Image

Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee Screenshot-sm 2058

Dthief writes "From MSNBC: 'Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee. Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat. "They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.'"
GUI

When PC Ports of Console Games Go Wrong 398

A post up at Gamasutra complains about the lack of effort put into the PC ports of some console games. The author picks on the unimpressively-reviewed Ninja Blade in particular: "Just as a quick guide to what we're dealing with here: when you create a new save file at the start of Ninja Blade on the PC, it warns you not to 'turn off your console.' Yes, Ninja Blade is one of those conversions: not so much converted as made to perfunctorily run on a different machine. In-game, you're asked to press A, B, X and Y in various sequences as part of Ninja Blade's extraordinary abundance of quick-time events. Whether you have an Xbox 360 pad plugged in or not, the game captions these button icons with text describing the PC equivalent controls. Only it doesn't always do that. Sometimes, you're left staring at a giant, pulsating, green letter A, and no idea what to do with it." What awful ports have you had the misfortune to experience?
Piracy

Sony Joins the Offensive Against Pre-Owned Games 461

BanjoTed writes "In a move to counter sales of pre-owned games, EA recently revealed DLC perks for those who buy new copies of Mass Effect 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Now, PlayStation platform holder Sony has jumped on the bandwagon with similar plans for the PSP's SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3. '[Players] will need to register their game online before they are able to access the multiplayer component of the title. UMD copies will use a redeemable code while the digital version will authenticate automatically in the background. Furthermore ... anyone buying a pre-owned copy of the game will be forced to cough up $20 to obtain a code to play online."
Science

Why Time Flies By As You Get Older 252

Ant notes a piece up on WBUR Boston addressing theories to explain the universal human experience that time seems to pass faster as you get older. Here's the 9-minute audio (MP3). Several explanations are tried out: that brains lay down more information for novel experiences; that the "clock" for nerve impulses in aging brains runs slower; and that each interval of time represents a diminishing fraction of life as we age.

Comment Re:Great News (Score 1) 121

Poor wording on my part.

Before I got a UPS, I had my power cut out or surge from time to time. On two separate occasions files were being written when my computer shut off, and got stuck in a strange not-a-file not-a-dir state. The files and their parent folders could not be deleted, but I could format the partition to clear them. One happened to be in my temp folder, which is how I first discovered the issue.

As long as power is restored shortly, SSDs are supposed to complete the write... or is that only server grade ones? Either way, SRAM holds data longer than DRAM, so if the controller is programmed to, there's a chance it'll work.

Earth

Dinosaur Feather Color Discovered 219

anzha writes "Do you remember being a kid and told we'd never know what colors the dinosaurs were? For at least some, that's no longer true. Scientists working in the UK and China have closely examined the fossils of multiple theropods and actually found the colors and patterns that were present in the fossilized proto-feathers. So far, the answer is orange, black and white in banded and other patterns. The work also thoroughly thrashes the idea that fossils might not be feathers, but collagen fibers instead. If this holds up, Birds Are Dinosaurs. Period. And colorful!"
PC Games (Games)

Future Ubisoft Games To Require Constant Internet Access 497

Following up on our discussion yesterday of annoying game distribution platforms, Ubisoft has announced the details of their Online Services Platform, which they will use to distribute and administer future PC game releases. The platform will require internet access in order to play installed games, saved games will be stored remotely, and the game you're playing will even pause and try to reconnect if your connection is lost during play. Quoting Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "This seems like such a bizarre, bewildering backward step. Of course we haven't experienced it yet, but based on Ubi’s own description of the system so many concerns arise. Yes, certainly, most people have the internet all the time on their PCs. But not all people. So already a percentage of the audience is lost. Then comes those who own gaming laptops, who now will not be able to play games on trains, buses, in the park, or anywhere they may not be able to find a WiFi connection (something that’s rarely free in the UK, of course – fancy paying the £10/hour in the airport to play your Ubisoft game?). Then there's the day your internet is down, and the engineers can’t come out to fix it until tomorrow. No game for you. Or any of the dozens of other situations when the internet is not available to a player. But further, there are people who do not wish to let a publisher know their private gaming habits. People who do not wish to report in to a company they’ve no affiliation with, nor accountability to, whenever they play a game they’ve legally bought. People who don’t want their save data stored remotely. This new system renders all customers beholden to Ubisoft in perpetuity whenever they buy their games."
Image

Tower Switch-Off Embarrasses Electrosensitives Screenshot-sm 292

Sockatume writes "Residents in Craigavon, South Africa complained of '[h]eadaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins, gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns' after an iBurst communications tower was put up in a local park. Symptoms subsided when the residents left the area, often to stay with family and thus evade their suffering. At a public meeting with the afflicted locals, the tower's owners pledged to switch off the mast immediately to assess whether it was responsible for their ailments. One problem: the mast had already been switched off for six weeks. Lawyers representing the locals say their case against iBurst will continue on other grounds."
Games

Whatever Happened To Second Life? 209

Barence writes "It's desolate, dirty, and sex is outcast to a separate island. In this article, PC Pro's Barry Collins returns to Second Life to find out what went wrong, and why it's raking in more cash than ever before. It's a follow-up to a feature written three years ago, in which Collins spent a week living inside Second Life to see what the huge fuss at the time was all about. The difference three years can make is eye-opening."
Space

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."
Science

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

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