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Comment Not surprising (Score 2) 183

I believe a relevant policy page is here, basically unless you're a charity you can't use the donate button or they can freeze your account. The buy now button is available for others but is only supposed to be used for physical goods apparently, not sure whether intangibles like subscriptions or software qualify. I know some places just use the buy now button and sell crummy little tokens or somesuch and people basically make donations that way. Still, political parties should definitely be eligible for the donate button and it seems like an oversight on google's part that they're not.

In any case google's policies with their ad services are pretty dreadful. I know several (by which I mean at least 2 I can recall) sites/people that had their accounts/funds frozen after their site was linked by a big site (slashdot, reddit, digg, etc) or made the news. The sudden big spike in traffic was deemed suspicious since such a spike in traffic clearly could only be the result of trying to defraud google. Both cases the people just ditched google for ads because they couldn't get their accounts unfrozen (or at least not easily enough that they gave up first), got a different ad provider and considered the money that was in the account a loss.

Comment Re:Bitcoin is not worthwhile as a currency (Score 3, Interesting) 476

IANAE, nor have I even properly studied economics, but it does seem like bitcoins by design can't help but become a bubble. I may not know much about economics, but it's telling that on seeing how increasingly slowly new coins were generated I had to resist the urge to buy up a bunch before adoption became widespread and they became valuable. A quick inspection of the bitcoin system reveals that since the number of bitcoins in existence is in no way related to the number of people using them, their value should go up as adoption goes up, which in turn leads some investors noticing this trait to try and buy up a bunch before they get valuable, leading to a bubble.

Also the amount of processing that goes into them seems a massive waste of electricity/energy. I understand the need with this generation system to make it not worthwhile to forge bitcoins, but the result has been massive amounts of kWh going in to farming bitcoins, generally costing nearly as much in electric bills as the value of the bitcoins. It's just such a ridiculously wasteful way of 'minting' currency, it makes me very skeptical of the whole p2p currency idea.

I'm not sure how their system could've been changed to avoid those problems - I expect it's extremely difficult to create a new currency without having a government to just say "We're using X". Maybe bitcoin could have worked if it adjusted better for the number of users to avoid the deflation bubble, or maybe any new currency needs to be backed by something until it gets off the ground.

I expect bitcoins will eventually go down in flames once the bubble bursts, and may well prevent any future better thought out attempts at the p2p currency thing from succeeding.

Comment Technology reaching its limits? (Score 3, Interesting) 84

On the one hand, things like this are really cool and it's nice to know that there is a future for technology beyond silicon.

On the other, at scales this small (1 atom thick!) it makes me realize how close we're getting to the fundamental limits that will prevent transistors getting denser or computers getting faster/better.

Comment Re:Damn Good. (Score 1) 312

The only reason this particular theft worked via the link you posted is because someone recognized the thief. That chances of that are remote at best.

I disagree. While I have no numbers, I'd expect most thefts of laptops to be people stealing the laptop when it's unattended somewhere public, not a mugging or break-in. In this case, it'd most likely be left unattended at the school, and the criminal of opportunity another student.

Even a fair proportion of break-ins I'd expect wouldn't be completely random, like in the article the thieves have some connection to the place they've robbed. After all, thieves want to know there's something to steal, and knowing if there's a security system helps even more. Even if it is random, a photo of the thief would go a fair way to helping the police find them.

Comment Don't human reaction times increase with practice? (Score 1) 160

Does anyone know what the difference in people's reaction times are between something they haven't practiced, and something they've practiced to death? I see numbers quoted like 200ms, which seems about right if you sit someone down for 5 minutes and tell them to press the button as soon as they hear the beep. But I'd expect a fair increase in their reaction time if you had them practicing that test for 3 hours a day, every day for a month as their response turns into reflex. And more serious gamers that play in tournaments or even professional gaming should easily reach that point. So I'm not sure how these numbers compare once you take into account someone who has had a large amount of practice at whatever particular actions.

I've only really got that sort of experience with one old game which I've been playing for about 8 years now - it's an extremely input heavy game played with just the keyboard, about 10 key presses a second (half of them the spacebar) would probably be about average. When I play that game I don't even think about what buttons I press and if I tried I'd fail miserably. Everything gets turned into goals and 'moves' and my hands do the translating. But from my experience, as you start to get experienced enough that you're stringing together long sequences of actions and timing things down to the frame, input lag makes a difference. What I'm saying is that where input lag might be reasonable compared to reaction times for some casual gamer, when it comes to the high end competitive gaming and people have practised so much that everything has a learned response without even thinking about it, input lag needs to be a lot lower.

The other thing I've noticed is that using sound cues seems to be far more effective than visual cues - maybe it's something to do with the brain being able to use audio input for timing based actions better, or maybe the higher sample rate for sound gives more to go off than 30 or 60 fps. Anyway, it'd be interesting to see how people's reactions compare when they're based off visual and sound cues - it could be valuable information for game designers.

Comment Re:meh. (Score 1) 118

That said, I'm actually curious if some of these titles wouldn't do better with regular wipes and refreshes. I have had a very hard time getting into any MMO after the original EQ in large part because I always feel like I'm diving into something that isn't new, it's all already been discovered, guides posted, etc. I think it would be nice to have some MMOs that have fixed time-lines or a clever way to regularly make everyone restart, etc.

While resets and that sort of thing are fun and they make the game accessible, they run counter to the main thing that keeps people playing MMO(RPG)s - gaining levels, collecting loot, and various other trinkets and signs of wealth and seniority. The thing about MMOs is people pay per month, which means to be successful they need to keep people playing - what keeps people playing is acquiring stuff, because people like to have more stuff than others. What's more, if they stop playing they might miss out on some exclusive, short term item, or just fall behind. It's in MMOs' best interest to reward seniority, because it keeps people playing knowing that if they stay long enough they'll be top of the pack. So they need to play a balancing act between rewarding long time players to keep them playing, but not making the game inaccessible to new players. At least, that's how I see it...

One workaround I've seen is having a dedicated server or something like it for competitive play that gets reset and the leaders get their names up in lights for a little while. It gives new players a chance, it doesn't interfere with the old ones, plus trying to pull yourself up from the bottom as quickly as possible can be as much skill based and hours-played based.

Comment The price is right, but... (Score 1) 346

When it hits that $40 pricetag, I can see it being worthwhile for a number of devices - with all the dongles around, the usb port certainly allows for that. But for the device to be truly versatile, they need more variations on the hardware. At 1 usb port, and 1 ethernet port, you're pretty limited with what you can do. Perhaps that's partly intention - you might buy more than one of them since you don't have enough usb ports to do all you'd like to do with it. Still, it would be so much more appealing if there were variations - throw in an esata port (assuming USB would be the bottleneck for NAS), or an extra ethernet port (router), or more USB ports, or built in wireless.

When the price is that low, I think people would be willing to pay a little more to make it more customizable and get some more utility out of it.

Comment Re:And then? (Score 1) 354

Well, insects seem to be able to find a way to make a comeback each time we mess with them. I for one do not want to see what a infrared vision, laser resistant mosquito would be like...

Especially if we're using comic book rules. After being exposed to lasers, they'll gain laser powers (and maybe spandex outfits). Mosquitoes are already annoying enough, imagine if they could also shine laser beams around your eyes.

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