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Comment Reminds me of Voyager, "Virtuoso" (Score 3, Interesting) 50

There was an episode where Robert Picardo's holographic Doctor introduces an entire planet to music. He becomes a celebrated singer, and even attempts to stay on the planet, but finds out at the end that the "music" that the aliens ultimately enjoy turns out to be far different. He starts a musical revolution, but is "left behind" at the end.

Comment The legal ramifications, in a different article (Score 5, Informative) 343

The Wired article on this does a more balanced job at handling the legal ramifications:

Basically, Gamestop may be in the right, legally, if Square-Enix has a pre-existing contract with them with a non-compete clause. As the article states: “Existing contracts between GameStop and Square may have barred this kind of promotion, and so GameStop may actually be justified in their action if Square is in breach of some promotion/marketing agreement”

But they can also be in legal trouble over this, as the article also points out, for a number of different reasons.

Nowhere on the packaging does it say "Free OnLive coupon", apparently. I haven't looked at the packaging myself.

Comment Re:Ultimate game realism (Score 2) 186

So you are playing The Sims? In all seriousness, even The Sims takes you a step out of reality. While we were housecleaning this past week, my girlfriend sighed and commented "You know, cleaning up the house is a lot easier in The Sims. You just point and click."

Still, some people play video games to escape from reality. But some folks play video games to explore things in reality that they cannot possibly do on their own, due to their wealth, social status, language barrier, etc. Flight Simulators are a prime example of this. Not everyone can afford a plane, but they can turn to a Flight Simulator to give them an experience that they could not afford otherwise.

You could always make your video game universe more and more surreal, with no limit to the imagination (look at The Void or Zeno Clash). But you are limited by technical restraints when you want to push for realism.

Comment Sonic may not be the best example (Score 5, Insightful) 129

Sonic the Hedgehog may be a poor example for this topic. The gameplay consisted mostly of running and jumping really fast while grabbing rings. It took advantage of the console technology of the time to provide smooth framerates with no tearing, which allowed the backgrounds to zoom by quickly, giving the illusion of speed. But that was the gimmick. Sonic the Hedgehog, as a series, wasn't known for being difficult (like Mega Man) or innovative (like Marathon). It doesn't even have that much of a compelling story (like RPGs). The same gameplay 20 years later may appeal to some people, but most gamers who played Sonic back then are different people now and are looking for more than just running and jumping really fast while grabbing rings (which is one of the laments of the article).

A better example of a classic revamp would be the Bionic Commando Rearmed or the most recent Mega Man game. Bionic Commando Rearmed adds a lot of modern features to the original game, like big boss battles, hacking mini-games, and the ability to swap weapons within the stage, but the basic mechanic of swinging and shooting is still challenging. The most recent Mega Man was pretty popular, despite (or perhaps because) it staying true to the 8-bit Mega Man graphics and gameplay, mostly because it still maintained the same level of challenge.

Of course, many classic games are getting a cloning vats treatment on the iPhone/iPad/iFranchise and Android market. If anything, the older 8-bit, 16-bit, and PS1 era games (or clones of those games) are seeing a bit of a renaissance on those platforms.

Comment Re:DNA Test, really? (Score 1) 354

Last I read a DNA test took at least three days to complete. Amazing they were able to pull it off in just a few hours of dumping the body. And what DNA did they compare it too, btw?

In this day and age, not only is the cost of DNA sequencing beating Moore's Law, but the turn-around time is around 45 minutes to an hour for the actual analysis. For the University of California system, you get your results by e-mail by the next day at the latest, and that's assuming that the day was busy for them. The "3 days" thing is typically the time it takes to mail a package or similarly courier the physical end-product. There are handheld DNA testing portable labs about the size of an AED or first aid kit nowadays, too.

Comment They are late to the party, but... (Score 3, Insightful) 229

While Walmart is certainly late to the party on this one, the business implications are pretty big. They are already the world's largest retailer. They are already known for pushing out local businesses (which may be a good or bad thing depending on which point of view you are seeing). Delivery is one of the few ways that grocery stores have set themselves apart from Walmart. Is this a way for Walmart to strike out at their competition? Are they going to try to cut into competitors like Safeway and Albertson's who offer grocery delivery? My other slightly off-topic question is: why aren't there any fast food hamburger delivery chains? You can't throw a rock without hitting a pizza delivery place (or Chinese or Indian food), but there aren't any well-known burger joints that deliver (at least, not throughout the US in all locations).

Comment Re:Not unprecedented (Score 1) 1078

What about living in a super polluted city? Apple sells equipment in China, Egypt, Mexico and South Korea. Some of those cities are terribly disgusting compared to working in a smoke filled bar. Does Apple change their warranty for those places? How long can I travel there before I void my warranty?

I agree Apple needs to look out for their employee's health by providing the appropriate equipment, but I think they also need to design equipment that can handle the normal operating environment for the customers they sell to.

For better or worse, smokers and heavily polluted cities still represent a significant source of revenue for computer companies. So long as that is the case, their products need to be designed for their customers.

Comment Re:threat model (Score 1) 553

Gaining root on one box shouldn't give you easy access to all others.

Yes, but this statement relates to my original reply in what way?

And brute force IS affected by complexity, in that a lower-case alphabetic password only requires 26 possible combination, while a password using characters from the entire 8-bit set, requires 256 possible combination. That's the base, so brute-force time goes exponential from there depending on range of characters used.

Only if you know that you can limit your search space that way.

Even if you structure your brute-force by initially ignoring special characters, do some math.

8 characters, letters only, assuming at most the initial letter could be a capital: 417654129152 possible combinations, i.e. ~1^12
8 characters, 7-bit set (8-bit is nonsense, most of them are non-printable): 67675234241018881, i.e. ~1^17

But "letters only" allows us to use pronouncable passwords that people can remember. Hf$6o/r^ may be a 1^17 complexity password, but 99% of the average user will write it down. "sophisticated" is a 1^19 complexity password, and a lot easier to remember.

Special characters are way overrated. The idiocity of limiting password length is a lot more harmful. If your attacker knows how long your password can at most be, his brute-forcing becomes a ton easier, because he can estimate how much of the search space he's got. If my password can be anything (because it's hashed anyways, so what do you care?) then he never knows if he's close or not, and he can not estimate how long it will take at most.

Even if you use a dictionary attack, more space is the answer, not special characters. The OED contains about 300,000 words. Adding a special character or number brings the complexity up to only 1^9. But allowing for two words instead of one brings the complexity to 1^12, and is equally easy to remember.

Comment Why I didn't like the latest Prince of Persia (Score 1) 507

I hated Prince of Persia IV, but not because it was a terrible game. The art is gorgeous, the boss fights are over-the-top, and the jumping puzzles are inventive (although extremely easy, with the Quick-Time-Event mechanic). The "not dying" mechanic is just a streamlined, limited version of what the previous three games offered.

But I cannot forgive the game for not being Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

It's streamlined to tell a mystic and magical story. Like a Disney movie. But for me, the Prince of Persia series was all about platform puzzles and jumping around in realistic looking environments. I felt like I was running around in amusement park rides in Prince of Persia IV, rather than ancient ruins or stately Arabian buildings. I realize that the game designers have moved away from the puzzling to "let's make the player look awesomely cool in messed up worlds". But that isn't the kind of gameplay that I'm looking for, so it is a lesser game in my eyes. I want to emphasize that I can see how this game can be fun for other people (it certainly has a "God of War" vibe to it which is quite inticing), but it wasn't fun for me because it lacked the thoughtful platforming of the first remake.

Comment Re:Epic Adventures (Score 1) 63

NWN, as a single player campaign, was pretty mediocre, although the NPC followers really grow on you and are well written, just like in Baldur's Gate (but you can only have ONE!). NWN, as a multiplayer game, though, is a dream come true. This game as a multiplayer experience sucked away several years of my life, and I loved every minute of it. All that it required was proficiency with the toolset, which was a bit of a hurdle if you aren't a modder or a programmer. The scripting language let you do pretty much anything. I was able to make talking swords (a la Lilacor from BG II) that leaped out of the user's hand and acted as independent entities, villages that can "spawn" into zones after they were cleared of a horde of monsters (with grateful villagers), supply and demand economies between villages, and many more things.

The party interactions were also severely limited. Half of the fun in BG was to hear your party bickering. NWN got rid of that too.
Hordes of the Underdark allowed you to have two minions, and they bickered a lot. Just pick Sharwina (or whatever the names was of that female bard who looked like Catherine Zeta Jones) and Deekin (the kobold bard) for a lot of laughs.

NWN gets a lot of rap for not being Baldur's Gate. But it's something completely different and wonderful, if you overlook the fact that it isn't Baldur's Gate (aka a single player DnD RPG) and accept it for the multiplayer DnD engine that it is.

Comment Just like the Crucible/Salem Witch Trials (Score 5, Interesting) 502

If you pretend that you are being cursed by a witch, the whole village will break out their pitchtorches and burning forks to burn the witch. Get the mob to side with you, and you win, regardless of whether or not the so-called witch was actually guilty of witchcraft.

That's the basic principle in this essay. I'm not saying that I agree with all of the finer points of the essay, but it makes a good argument overall. So far in my short lifespan, I have heard several cases involving harassment which were attempts by the harasser to cover up what they were doing by claiming the victim was the harasser.

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