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EA Shuts Down Pandemic Studios, Cuts 200 Jobs 161

lbalbalba writes "Electronic Arts is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work. 'The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.' An ex-developer for Pandemic attributed the studio's struggles to poor decisions from the management."

Comment Outgassing (Score 1) 177

Interesting paper. After seeing page 39 I now have an image of moon farts locked in my mind. "Transient
Lunar Phenomena" indeed.

It seems like they are saying 'find the largest sources of outgassing and you will find the highest concentrations of water' (at the poles), caused by vapor phase changing to subsurface ice.

Comment Speaking as a DM... (Score 5, Interesting) 162

For D&D I would like a Surface that can:
-bring up maps as needed, to be played on with Surface-aware miniatures that track positions
-display a combat state tracker, like a game scoreboard, with initative, hit points, state tracking (dazed, on fire, etc) in clear view for all players
-combat-aware board that determines flanking, cover and similar bonuses based on mini locations
-dice that auto-sense the roll and calculates your bonuses, displaying the results
-full web integration with the D&D sites if you need to reference a quick rule (there are already Iphone apps that do this)

Actually that sounds like more trouble than its worth. These days we use a clear piece of acrylic and dry-erase markers over a grid map. Simple and effective.

Computers already have a place at our gaming table, for some it substitutes for a paper character sheet and its nice having a full rules library within reach. It may have gone a bit far when the other week three players were screwing around on their Blackberries at the same time. Turned out they were plotting something they didnt want the DM to listen in on.

Comment Re:so they've rebranded vista... (Score 1) 720

The benefits are certainly there when you do trim.

I'm running Win 7 (technet version) on a netbook, that when running on batteries is downclocked from 1600 to 800mhz. Win 7 runs fine on it, nearly as quickly as XP. According to 'powercfg /energy' the biggest CPU user when idle is Window's license service, at a hefty 1% CPU use.

Comment Re:What is "CA"? (Score 5, Informative) 174

I will simplify, but basically a CA (Certificate Authority, that much of the parent wasnt a joke) is a server that creates encryption certificates. In this case, SSL certificates. For example, when you goto that SSL certificate was created by the Thawte SGC CA. Thawte is one of many companies that you can pay to create you an SSL cert, so your users can communicate with your server via https.

The CA itself also has an encryption key, which is stored on hardware. In some cases its a PCIe board, others its a removable PCMCIA card, etc. This particular CA used an add-on board which lost power during operation, wiping out its only key. The board seems to have been working as intended, preventing attack (removal of board, which would cause power loss) by wiping itself.

Without that key, the CA can no longer create revocation lists (CRLs, lists of certs a CA has created that have since been revoked or expired) or any new certs. They are dead in the water, also causing every cert they have ever made to become invalid as they can no longer be checked against a recent CRL. They have to start from scratch, recreating every_single_cert.

This was only a test system, but if this happened in reality 80 million Germans would have invalid health cards. At least they discovered the value of a backup during testing.

Comment Re:usage based (Score 1) 463

"Dent our armor, even weaken our sword arm, but don't put us on the edge of a virtual cardiac arrest until we get magically healed or wait an hour."

Sounds like you are describing 4th edition D&D and its healing surge system. Basically, everyone can heal to full if they take a 5-minute rest after battle. Doing so expends 'healing surges'; how many of those you get depends on your class. Its a huge departure from previous versions which relied heavily on clerics and Cure Light Wounds.

Comment AllwaySync (Score 1) 421

freeware @

I was playing with this for the first time last night, it gets the job done. Sync software with a nice GUI, and I was easily able to backup my systems to a 1tb backup drive in a reasonable time period. It has the usual features and can sync in multiple directions (one to many, bidirectional or one way).

Comment Re:Windows has ESP? (Score 1) 435

"I have no idea what criteria Windows uses to determine what my "likely" programs are"

From wiki:
"The prefetcher works by watching what code and data is accessed during the boot process (including reads of the NTFS Master File Table), and recording a trace file of this activity. Future boots can then use the information recorded in this trace file to load code and data in a more optimal fashion. The boot prefetcher will continue to watch for such activity until 30 seconds after the user's shell has started, or until 60 seconds after all services have finished initializing, or until 120 seconds after the system has booted, whichever elapses first."

Prefetch was part of XP. Its been expanded into Superfetch in Vista and 7. Its basically a more refined version, taking into account time of day and system use trends. For example, if antivirus scans run at 2am, superfetch loads applications back into memory later on before typical use starts at 8am so the user opens Office quickly. This is done at very low I/O. Theres actually been a lot written about it, but I would start with

Comment Re:XP Free for a year? (Score 5, Informative) 528


"We will be soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate."

"As part of the upcoming Windows 7 Release Candidate milestone, Microsoft will release a beta version of Windows XP Mode"

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