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Comment Security countermeasures? (Score 1) 287

If there are any voting machines running on PCs, it is essential that they disconnect public-facing USB ports from the motherboard. Because if your goal is to shut down or slow down a polling place, then you don't need a sophisticated hacking device, just a power spike that disables one of your machines.

If we had time, we could design a USB port with an alarm in it so that we could catch tamperers in the act.

Comment Re:Completely ridiculous... (Score 1) 400

The opening doors at railroad crossings is the real low-hanging fruit. And it takes more than half a second, because the bus has to come to a complete stop. This keeps the bus from ever reaching a good speed on that block, costs a lot of fuel, and slows down traffic behind the bus. It lets more hot air into the bus in summer, and more cold air into the bus in winter. And all the railroad tracks in my town have bells and barriers, so the exercise is totally pointless.

But, it's a Federal law, so good luck changing it.

Comment First impression of the game (Score 4, Interesting) 33

I just tried the game, and if this had been finished and released in 1985, it would have competed well with Elite on the C64.

It plays very much like the first Star Raiders game, but the joystick moves the crosshairs as well as the ship. Objects in space are rendered in what looks like full 3D line art, rather than simple sprites. And you can fly into planets' atmospheres to do strafing runs of enemy bases. I was awestruck when I saw the spherical planet come into view; it looked like something just a little beyond what I expected an Atari game to do in the 1980s. You're not used to seeing big ol' globes on an Atari 8-bit. You're used to seeing big flat raster sunsets, or if you're lucky, some clever animation like Rescue on Fractalus used. The plantery terrain wasn't quite as realistic as Fractalus, but was still very good, and very arcade-like.

The part that really shows the game's ambition is the galactic map. The game starts with "galactic history", a cutscene for lack of a better word, which simulates the progress of the Zylon fleet up to the point of the player joining the fight. The map is no longer arranged in a simple grid like the original cartridge. It contains not only enemy squadrons and starbases, but star systems with orbiting planets. It is an extension of the thing that Star Raiders always had that Elite didn't: while you were in your sector, time was still passing in other sectors. Even in the original Star Raiders, enemy squadrons would move to different sectors, surrounding starbases, and eventually destroying them if the player didn't intervene. In this sequel, new squadrons could also be launched from occupied planets. I haven't played the advanced levels yet, but I imagine the player has to choose carefully between defending starbases and raiding shipyards.

I've found no game-ruining bugs, but I am not sure whether the flight and combat system has been completely worked out, or whether I'm just not good at the game yet. If this had been leaked on a BBS, it would have been received so much better than the ones that were, well, actually leaked.

Comment Re:..and nothing of value was lost. (Score 2) 465

It's not that nobody would watch people code for four days. It's that nobody would watch manufactured reality show drama troweled over hour-long chunks of dramatically-edited footage of people coding.

Well, people would, but at that level of edited reality, it becomes irrelevant what the contestants are actually doing. They could be sorting tiny screws or building Lego sculptures of breakfast foods and the show would be the same.

Comment PCjr and the Crash (Score 4, Interesting) 178

I attended a panel of veteran video game programmers from the Phoenix area a few years ago. They asserted that the PCjr had a greater role in the video game crash of 1984 than people realize. Many software companies bought into IBM's hype that the PCjr would dominate the market, and put a lot of resources into PCjr development, and ended up going bankrupt when the PCjr failed.

Comment Physical remedies to noise floor problem? (Score 1) 615

I've looked at the top threads here and I've noticed that most people blame the noise floor rising as WiFi devices become more capable, and a few people talking about how to configure the routers or flash the firmware to get into less-occupied frequencies. A few people have described how 5 GHz spectrum is more vacant, but doesn't travel as far, how there are only three channels that don't overlap in the US, and how traffic slows down when new routers have to step down to old protocols.

I don't hear much about the gains that can be made by freeing up one's dependence on WiFi within the home. If your computer is next to the router, running an Ethernet cable to it is a no-brainer, and certainly too obvious for this thread. But video streaming gets more common every year, so maybe these homes have reached the point where it's worthwhile to run Ethernet to the room with the TV in it. And I'm sure there are kids out there who think nothing of running BitTorrent on a WiFi device. Is it worthwhile to move devices to Ethernet, or is that just a lay assumption? Or maybe also too obvious for this thread?

Moreover, I've never heard anyone talk about consumer-friendly methods to block WiFi signals from outside the home. Whenever I ask my network engineer friends about this, they act like I'd have to build a Faraday cage around my entire network with specialized copper mesh. No, I'd just like to do my level best to discourage signals from passing through my exterior walls, so that my traffic doesn't have to compete with weak packets from across the street. My router is close to the north wall, so is there something small I can hang behind the router to attenuate any of the signal through that wall? What about replacing my chain link fence with concrete?

Comment Maturity of CGI (Score 1) 532

I look at it more in terms of maturity, where the technology proves itself through subtlety rather than through going over the top. Less is more.

And my moment of CGI maturity was in the movie Amélie. I didn't realize how often the director used it until I watched it with director's commentary. They used CGI for really the most frivolous things, although it was the frivolous things that made the movie awesome.

The article touched on how CGI gets cheaper and accessible to small filmmakers, but I think the real beauty of CGI happens when it allows people to get something they wouldn't ordinarily be able to get without studio backing or lots of union workers. Virtual sets and virtual actors have already been done, but they're still time-intensive and space-intensive, even if the hardware is getting cheaper. I want to do a shot-for-shot remake of Citizen Kane with my iPod Nano's camcorder, and I want to play all the parts.

Comment Is this what the spam looks like? (Score 1) 179

I've been seeing a lot of posts saying "[Name] likes [platitude] on ." from people who would probably never post [platitude]. Things like "Clarence likes “I don't have a temper problem, everyone else needs to stop pissing me off” on ." I'm afraid to click either the platitude or the heart, but I can't really find any evidence about what the hell is going on.

Comment Re:Tested it... mine works... (Score 1) 553

Perhaps I bought CFL's too long ago and they last too long.

The switching mechanism on my Clapper has always worked, but when the switch is in the "off" position, the light flashes on dimly every few seconds. Not good for the bedroom, and probably not good for the life of the bulb.

This same "bug" prevented my father from pulling a prank on my mom's friend who was staying in from out of town. He was going to hook up a timer to a strobe light so that it would go off in her room at midnight. But it would flash once every few minutes.

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