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Comment Re:In the late 70s (Score 2) 230

My first computer program was written on optical cards in the late 70's. I was 11 years old, and our maths teacher showed us how to write simple basic programs.

We'd write them out by hand, work out the ascii code in binary for each character of the program line, then using a soft pencil would painstakingly fill in the 'holes' for the binary code of each character on an optical card. One card for each line of program.

These cards were sent off to a university to be batch-processed on their mainframe. If you were lucky you got your output a week later with vaguely sensible results. In my case I think I only got a print-out back saying 'syntax error'.

Comment Re:Virgin (Score 1) 220

I've been with Virgin Media (formerly Blueyonder) for years. When it was Blueyonder it was without doubt the best internet you could get. Since the merger and branding it's gone steadily downhill.

A couple of years ago my connection started slowing down at peak times, becoming essentially unusable with packet loss and high erratic pings due to oversubscription, Virgin are generally very slow to sort these issues out, as it costs a lot of money to upgrade the UBRs for increased bandwidth. I had to complain to the Internet Service Providers Association to get the problem sorted, and got put in contact with Virgin's CEO's office, who finally got the problem fixed for me. I found out that as my area has a large student population they were torrenting 24/7 on the uncapped 50mbit service, which was causing problems for everyone in my area.

Now it's Virgin's fault for oversubscribing, but it's also some users fault for acting like gluttons at all-you-can-eat restaurants who grab every piece of pizza that appears and leaving crumbs for everyone else.

Fast forward two years, and after a recent upgrade to 20mbit I find the same issues AGAIN. The area is oversubscribed so online gaming in the evening is impossible due to the terrible pings and packet loss. Support confirm the oversubscription, and say the problem's not due to be fixed for THREE MONTHS.

I'd leave Virgin if I could but the fastest ADSL in my area is 2mbit.

Input Devices

Microsoft CEO Says Kinect To Support PCs Eventually 47

Ken writes "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said that the company will support Kinect for PCs sometime in the future. The motion controller is currently only officially supported for the Xbox 360, although it has been hacked and tweaked to work on pretty much any platform that can be plugged into via a USB port. 'We're trying to move beyond gaming to include the world of socialization, movies, TV, music, and we're trying to make the whole experience accessible to everybody in the family not just the traditional gamer.' When Ballmer was asked, 'Will you plug-in the Kinect to the PC, will you go for that in the near future?' he replied, 'We'll support that in a formal way in the right time and when we've got an announcement to make we'll make it.' Note that this is completely separate from the Kinect-like controller from PrimeSense and Asus." Other readers have tipped related articles about Kinect being used to enable 3D teleconferencing and help drive a small helicopter drone.

Comment Re:On the flipside (Score 2) 221

I participated in a community forum for a game series I worked on for many years. As a member of the game dev team I was able to give insight and information to the community, and help with tech support and problem solving.

I helped build it into the central place on the net for info about our games, and in doing so we garnered a reputation for excellent customer support, and I had a great time interacting with the very people who played the games I worked on, and made some good friends.

You do have to filter what the community are saying - a lot of it is contradictory, and of course your most loyal fans are by definition the most core players, so they'll often request features which could make the games less appealing to less core game players.

I'm now working for a different company and I'm not involved in community building anymore, and to tell you the truth, I really miss it.

I believe that that direct interaction between a developer and their customers is a good thing, and can build a loyal community who will help promote your games. That sort of good will is priceless.


Best Way To Archive Emails For Later Searching? 385

An anonymous reader writes "I have kept every email I have ever sent or received since 1990, with the exception of junk mail (though I kept a lot of that as well). I have migrated my emails faithfully from Unix mail, to Eudora, to Outlook, to Thunderbird and Entourage, though I have left much of the older stuff in Outlook PST files. To make my life easier I would now like to merge all the emails back into a single searchable archive — just because I can. But there are a few problems: a) Moving them between email systems is SLOW; while the data is only a few GB, it is hundred of thousands of emails and all of the email systems I have tried take forever to process the data. b) Some email systems (i.e. Outlook) become very sluggish when their database goes over a certain size. c) I don't want to leave them in a proprietary database, as within a few years the format becomes unsupported by the current generation of the software. d) I would like to be able to search the full text, keep the attachments, view HTML emails correctly and follow email chains. e) Because I use multiple operating systems, I would prefer platform independence. f) Since I hope to maintain and add emails for the foreseeable future, I would like to use some form of open standard. So, what would you recommend?"

Comment Re:It's a bit unfortunate... (Score 1) 254

I worked on a DS game and it was massively pirated, so much so that it failed to meet its sales expectations which meant that a sales bonus I was hoping for didn't materialise. It was leaked as soon as it entered the supply chain and was downloaded thousands of times before it even reached the store shelves. The game reviewed very well, so you can't blame the lack of sales on a poor quality game.

This was all made possible by widespread use of R4 style carts, which are used not just by what we would call hardcore pirates, but by ordinary families who don't even consider the harm they're doing to developers. For example, a couple of Christmasses ago I visited a family friend and they asked me what I was working on. I mentioned a DS game, and they said 'We gave our kids DS's for Christmas and their uncle gave them these R4 carts where they can download the games for free!" I wasn't pleased to say the least.


Google Chrome Now Has Resource-Blocking Adblock 335

MackieChan writes "It seems to have slipped under the radar, but Google Chrome now has resource-blocking abilities, and may have had the ability for some time. Using the 'beforeload' event on the document, an extension can now intercept resources from loading. Adblock for Chrome has already added it, and I expect the other 'ad-blocking' extensions have as well. Before you start praising Google, however, it's the WebKit team that deserves your credit; one Chromium developer responded to praise by stating '... thank Apple — they added it to WebKit, we just inherited it.' Firefox vs. Chrome just got a bit more exciting."
It's funny.  Laugh.

ESRB Exposes Emails of Gamers Who Filed Privacy Complaints 75

simrook writes, "Many people filed privacy complaints with the ESRB over Blizzard's recent (and afterward recanted) move to require the display of users' real life names on Blizzard's official forums. 961 of those complainants had their email addresses exposed in the ESRB's response." The response itself didn't go into the organization's thoughts on Blizzard's plan, but they explained to the Opposable Thumbs blog that anonymity isn't a huge concern to them, as long as users are given the opportunity to opt out. "The role of the ESRB Privacy Online program is to make sure that member websites—those that display our seal on their pages — are compliant with an increasingly complex series of privacy protection laws and are offering a secure space for users to interact and do business online. ... But online privacy protection doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It's about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online."
Classic Games (Games)

Fan-Developed Ultima VI Remake Released 161

An anonymous reader writes "20 years after the original game launched, a fan-developed Ultima 6 remake has finally been released! The Ultima 6 Project was formed in 2001 by Sliding Dragon to develop a remake of Origin's Ultima VI: The False Prophet with newer graphics and a more immersive engine. Soon assembled under the banner Archon, the team members, who hail from all over the globe, have set about recreating the world of Britannia, adding an enhanced storyline to bolster intraseries continuity and building on the Ultima legacy in a way that will please fans new and old."
Classic Games (Games)

Where Are the Joysticks For Retro Gaming? 262

Doctor O writes "With all those nice emulators for classic gaming around (such as MAME, VICE or Stella) I want to establish monthly retro gaming evenings with some friends. The problem is I can't find any good joysticks for that purpose. There's a new version of the legendary Competition Pro, but judging from the many one-star reviews on Amazon, it's terrible. I found the USB version of the classic Atari Joystick, but it doesn't seem to be available and would have prohibitive shipping costs to Germany anyway. So, Slashdot to the rescue — where are the suitable USB joysticks for retro gaming?"

The "King of All Computer Mice" Finally Ships 207

An anonymous reader writes "The much-anticipated, much-mocked 18-button joystick mouse from WarMouse is now shipping. The press release features an impressive set of user quotes from game designer Chris Taylor, new SFWA president John Scalzi, and a doctor who runs a medical software company. Crazy or not, it's obviously more than just a gaming mouse."

Comment Re:Just hilarious (Score 1) 339

Take a look at Microsofts answer to Steam - Games For Windows Live. You might say it's their prototype of an app store for windows, and it's appalling.

The UI is clunkly and slow, it has no resume on downloads - if your download stops you have to download the entire game again, it has hidden activation limits that aren't disclosed to the user, and the in-game client makes games run slower and more unstable.

Steam by comparison is light years ahead.

Comment Re:Little bigger than Apollo? (Score 5, Informative) 66

Apollo was designed to go to the moon - trips of ten days or more, and needed to carry all the consumables and equipment needed for the trip. The new capsule is designed for short duration flights to the space station, so presumably it won't need to carry lots of supplies and equipment, hence more space for crew.

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