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Open Source

Submission + - The Liberated Pixel Cup: a game making contest from the CC, FSF, and OpenGameArt (

Lendrick writes: ", the Free Software Foundation, and the Creative Commons are teaming up to bring the Liberated Pixel Cup, a free-as-in-freedom game making contest starting on June 1st and going through July 31st. The contest will be divided into two phases: the first phase will be about adding on to a consistent set of art commissioned specially for the contest, and the second phase, starting on July 1st, will be about building games using the provided art."

Comment Re:Holding off using it for other reasons (Score 1) 265

I don't really care if it's served as XML or not, the point is that if it's not well formed XML it becomes a massive ballache to deal with, because XML tools and libraries are so prevalent.

It's only syntax, it shouldn't be a big deal. There's plenty of XML-based tools that are useful, and HTML5 goes to some lengths to define the text/html (i.e. non-XML) syntax so you can still use those tools and just translate the syntax at the edges.

The text/html and XML syntaxes are based on exactly the same underlying conceptual model (the DOM tree), so you can switch without any radical changes. E.g. the HTML5 parser implements the same APIs as standard XML parsers - drop it in front of your existing XML tools and libraries, stick an HTML serialiser on the other end, and your system can work pretty much the same as before (with the bonus of working for any arbitrary page on the web, not just the tiny fraction that are well-formed XML).

The ethos surrounding HTML5 is that well, lots of old sites didn't follow newer standards, so lets make those web sites standard by taking everything they did shit, and making that standard.

Who is helped by a standard that almost everybody ignores? If you, say, want to write code to parse HTML pages, and you try to implement what HTML4 specifies (based on SGML), your code will be pretty useless because HTML4 is incompatible with reality and you'll get incorrect output most of the time (stray characters, incorrectly nested elements, half the page text disappearing inside a misparsed script element, etc). Similarly if you implement what XHTML specifies, you'll fail since most pages aren't well-formed XML. You can declare that those pages are broken and non-standard but that doesn't stop them from existing and being a serious problem for anybody writing software that interacts with the web.

Nowadays you can just implement what HTML5 specifies (or find a library that already does it), and your parser will work identically to the current or near-future versions of all major browsers - it's defined in enough detail that there's no ambiguity in how to process any stream of bytes. That's never been possible before, when the standards were focused on some vision of a simple coherent syntax and refused to deal with the messy details that are critical in real life.

If you want to document a set of best practices for writing HTML, with rules for lowercase names and closing tags and quoting attributes and for indentation etc, that's fine and would be nice (especially if you could find a way to motivate people to follow the best practices - a decade of promoting XHTML doesn't seem to have stopped people writing terrible code so we need a better way). Meanwhile, HTML5 is solving the harder problem of how to cope with people who ignore those rules.

Comment Re:Why ? (Score 1) 364

You can store a 63-bit integer or a 32-bit floating point value in a JavaScript pointer and only promote them to real objects wrapping 64-bit values when an operation would lose precision. This reduces memory required for JavaScript.

SpiderMonkey uses 64-bit value types on all architectures (x86, x86-64, ARM, etc), storing either a 64-bit float or a 32-bit int or a pointer (31 bits on 32-bit, 47 bits on 64-bit), so it shouldn't make any difference to their memory usage. (The non-float values get packed into the range of unused NaN float representations, to avoid ambiguity). I think other modern JS engines do pretty much the same thing. JS semantics are that numbers are 64-bit floats, so implementations couldn't really use 63-bit ints (too precise) or 32-bit floats (too imprecise) anyway, though 32-bit ints are a safe optimisation.

Comment Re:Bothered by executable installer, give me a deb (Score 1) 103

Have you seen the OpenSUSE Build Service? That can automatically build native packages for several distros (OpenSUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Debian, Ubuntu (if you don't depend on anything in Universe)), and already has plenty of games, and isn't too hard to set up when you can copy from existing examples. (I've been trying to use it for 0 A.D. and it seems okay so far.)

Comment Re:Goddammit. (Score 1) 539

Reminds me of Glasshouse. Hop into a nanoassembler gate, get your brain backed up, switch to a healthy new physical body if you fancy. Murder is a minor crime but identity theft is extremely serious. Works great until someone releases a worm that uses humans as transmission vectors, infecting the assembler gates and deleting certain memories from anyone who uses them. You have to put a lot of trust into whoever runs the technology, and they're bound to make mistakes.

Comment Re:typekit (Score 2, Informative) 378

Subsetting is not EOT functionality - EOT is basically just a wrapper around a TTF file, and subsetting just involves modifying the TTF, so you can do exactly the same in browsers that read raw TTF files. I've written a font optimizer tool (open source) that does that. (Windows has an API to generate embedded fonts with subsetting, which the WEFT tool uses; I'm not currently aware of any other subsetting implementations.)

Comment Re:Doesn't microsoft say this about everything? (Score 2, Informative) 380

Gazelle is from Microsoft Research, and their paper discusses the details of the security model - it's not just a marketing claim.

The idea is that every 'origin' (basically a domain name, which is used as the basis for access control in all modern browsers) is separated into its own sandboxed process. If a page on your domain embeds an iframe from an advertiser's domain, the iframe is rendered in a separate process, and all communication is handled through a Browser Kernel which enforces the security constraints (e.g. preventing the advert from touching or rendering anything outside its iframe box, even if an attacker can find a way to execute arbitrary code in it). Plugins are handled in the same way.

Chrome's security model doesn't handle that kind of separation of multiple sites within a single page. But Gazelle sacrifices some backward compatibility (e.g. it removes the document.domain attribute, and it requires all plugins to be rewritten to use the Browser Kernel instead of directly accessing the network or filesystem), which is unlikely to be acceptable in practice.

And Gazelle is certainly not a replacement for the IE engine - it's built on the existing IE7 components for parsing, rendering, scripting, etc. It's research, and the value is its ideas, some of which could perhaps be integrated into current browser engines to improve security. It's not meant to be a real browser engine, but it seems successful as a research experiment.

Comment Re:Strings in PIFTS.exe (Score 4, Informative) 685

The PADDINGXXPADDING is just a standard artifact of the Visual C++ build process - there's a manifest XML string that's added to the .exe (for 'side-by-side' DLL dependency handling), and padding is added for some internal alignment requirements. (This article says the UpdateResource API is what adds that string). So it's nothing unusual or suspicious.

Comment Re:neodarwinism (Score 5, Informative) 951

there was a pretty good David Attenborough programme on BBC TV last week about Darwin and Evolution that showed many of the subsequent discoveries

Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life?

There's also an interesting quote from David Attenborough in response to people asking "why he did not give "credit" to God" for the subjects of his nature documentaries:

They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.

Comment Re:Flatland (Score 2, Interesting) 630

My father wouldn't let me read this because it's somewhat anti-feminist.

"Somewhat"? In Flatland, the social status of men is proportional to their number of sides (triangles are the lowest class, and priests are nearly circles); women are even lower, being straight lines. Women are not allowed to walk in public spaces without swaying and emitting noises, so that men do not accidentally get impaled on them. They have to enter their houses by the back door. They are considered "wholly devoid of brain-power", driven by emotion and instinct and lacking memory, and they receive no education.

But it's social satire, not a reflection of the author's views. He was "a firm believer in equality of educational opportunity, across social classes and in particular for women", and the book is attempting to highlight a Victorian mindset that was still prevalent at that time. The women in the book act in far more complex ways than their men give them credit for. The author even says "To my readers in Spaceland the condition of our Women may seem truly deplorable, and indeed it is" - he's not happy with how they're treated, and readers in Spaceland will hopefully see that it's caused by the absurd class system holding them back, though the narrator can't avoid falling back into the prejudices of his society.

The book makes more sense when you understand the context. The Annotated Flatland is quite interesting, providing some background on the author and mathematics and the society of the time.

("more sense" doesn't mean it actually does make sense - it all still seems a bit muddled to me, with a random mixture of physical differences and social differences between people, and strange science (like Lamarckian evolution where the actions of a parent affect the number of sides (hence social status) not of themselves but of their offspring), and sections that I don't understand the point of (like the whole thing about colour being discovered and then banned - it makes sense within Flatland but is it meant to be satirising anything in real life?). Much of it is probably because the world has changed so drastically in 125 years that I just can't understand where the author was coming from. But it's an interesting book despite (or perhaps because of) that.)


Submission + - Is your software ready for 80-core chip?

prostoalex writes: "Dr. Dobbs' Journal is reporting on Intel getting ready to demo an 80-core chip: "That's right: Not an 8-core; this is an 80-core chip. The microprocessor manufacturer has jumped way ahead of the expected progression from dual-core to quad-core to 8-core, etc., to delve into different ways to make something as complicated as an 80-core chip actually work.""

Submission + - Japan recommends scrapping moon mission

jonerik writes: "This article from the Associated Press reports that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is recommending that the nation cancel its long-planned program to land ground-penetrating probes from an unmanned spacecraft known as Lunar-A on the Moon. JAXA spokeswoman Satoko Kanazawa. In the works since 1995, and originally scheduled for launch in 2004, the main holdup has been the development of the probe's two penetrators, which would have been dropped from an orbiting satellite and would embed themselves into the lunar surface to transmit seismic data and information on the internal structure of the Moon. Although the final test of the penetrators is still scheduled for July of this year, JAXA now believes that the Lunar-A mother ship has deteriorated too badly over the past decade and would require too large an investment to repair. Instead, JAXA will concentrate on perfecting the penetrator design, with an aim of selling the technology to other spacefaring nations. Although Japan has stated a desire to send its own men to the Moon sometime around 2025, JAXA's level of success in recent years can perhaps best be described as 'mixed', with two 2006 solar sail tests having failed, but two 2004 tests having been successful. In addition, two of four 2003 spy satellite launches also failed, with two more scheduled for launch in the next two months or so. Japan is currently planning launching on the Planet-C mission to Venus in 2010, the joint Japan/ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2013, and an unnamed solar sail mission to Jupiter planned for sometime after 2010."

Submission + - Lost Moon landing tapes discovered

de_smudger writes: For years 'lost' tapes recording data from the Apollo 11 Moon landing have been stored underneath the seats of Australian physics students. A recent search has uncovered them.

Recorded on telemetry tapes, they are said to be the best quality images of the landing (unconverted slow scan TV) yet to be seen by a public still fascinated by the early space race. These tapes were mislaid in the early 1980s on their way to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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