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Comment Darkman (Score 1) 82

This reminds me of an an interesting 1990s superhero movie called Darkman. In that movie, a scientist is brutally attacked and disfigured by mobsters. Darkman uses his lab to make fake faces, which he then uses to go under cover and destroy the mobsters (framing them against each other, etc). He's also crazy and immune to pain :-)

Comment Re:This wouldn't be a big deal except (Score 1) 560

I've done just that. Here's the message I left with Google in their "we're sorry to see you go, please leave a message" box:

Hi there.

I've heard about a lot of problems with Google plus, for instance:

I don't want to use my real name online, for privacy reasons.

And at the same time, I don't want to have my gmail account (that I use a lot), blogger, or others be deleted because of a TOS violation in Google+ (that I barely use).

I'd rather use Facebook or Twitter instead of Google+, and risk a TOS violation there (due to using a nick rather than my real name, or other issues).

At least in that case I won't lose access to all my email, blog posts, etc at the same time.

I wrote more about this problem on my blog over here:

And I'm sure you're aware of many other people complaining about this.

I was really interested in your Google+ service before, and was encouraging others to try it out, but your recent policy of deleting accounts has me very concerned, so I'm not going to bother with using Google+, and I'm recommending to other that they be really careful about signing up with Google+.

Also I made sure that all my Google-related backups are up-to-date.

- Blogger - using their export function each week to save a backup to XML.
- Gmail - I'm using a mail client (kmail) in offline IMAP mode to slurp all my mails.

Google also thankfully has some other exporting services, if you're paranoid about losing your account with them.

More problematic is losing access to my gmail email address, but it's too much trouble/I don't know how to setup my own domain, email server, dns records, etc, so I'll take that risk for the time being. I'm also keeping track of all my logins/passwords/etc in a separate secure location, I don't rely heavily on websites "reset forgotten password" functions.

Comment Re:This is a real problem (Score 2) 253

I've worked with maths/science types before to integrate their formulas into linux-compatible production code.

It's usually been pretty small formulas (a couple of screens full of code at most), and I don't understand most of it, being a programmer and not a maths guy. Also, we're a pretty small business, and these haven't been under any major deadlines (it fell more under R&D), so I had time to do this properly.

Anyway, what I've done in the past is these steps:

1. When their matlab version is done, ask them to make a representative table of expected inputs and outputs.

2. Port their matlab version to Octave, so I can run it under linux on my workstation. Usually only minor changes are needed.

3. Check my Octave results against their tables, and also confirm that version with the maths person.

4. Port that over to the final version (Python+numpy in this case. Performance isn't a major issue, and I can always use something like Cython to get C-like performance if needed for this type of code), and do a lot of testing and checking with the maths person. The testing part also includes writing automated tests cases against the "known good" inputs and outputs.

And in other cases, the maths guy knows a fair amount of C (an embedded/maths/hardware guy, but not an experienced coder), so they've worked directly with me to port their code over from algorithm to Python, fix issues and test it (where I again don't understand most of the formula), and I've made it more maintainable (added a lot of comments, error checking, etc), and forwarded a very tidied-up version to other coders in my team to work with.


Ubisoft's Authentication Servers Go Down 634

ZuchinniOne writes "With Ubisoft's fantastically awful new DRM you must be online and logged in to their servers to play the games you buy. Not only was this DRM broken the very first day it was released, but now their authentication servers have failed so absolutely that no-one who legally bought their games can play them. 'At around 8am GMT, people began to complain in the Assassin's Creed 2 forum that they couldn't access the Ubisoft servers and were unable to play their games.' One can only hope that this utter failure will help to stem the tide of bad DRM."

Comment Text files and wiki (Score 1) 428

In my opinion, the easiest type of TODO list to manage and edit, is one stored in a text file, rather than having to go through GUIs to edit details or move things around, save backup versions, etc.

When I get some new task, I'll quickly add a new task entry to the top of my main todos text file. I'll either complete them quickly (and remove from the top of the text file), or later I'll organize things and integrate into my TODO wiki articles, which I keep organized into sections (in order of priority, by date, recurring, low priority, and randomly split some low priority things off into other articles). This part is necessary, because massive TODO.txt files get hard to manage, and wikis are much nicer to browse and read TODOs in, and keep things organized, even if they're harder to edit than a text file.

For major wiki TODO updates, I'll copy the article back into a text file, move parts around, edit, etc, and then save them back into the wiki. This also has the advantage that you can save your text file during extensive editing, rather than saving a lot of temporary versions in the wiki, or risking losing your work if the browser closes unexpectedly.

For coding projects, each has it's own TODO.txt file, rather than being stored on the wiki (the wiki would have more detail on overall tasks, if it's a complicated project). The project itself would be listed in the prioritized section on the TODOs wiki page (do some work on project foo). The projects themselves and their TODO.txt files, are managed via git revision control.

I've tried several different TODO and task-tracking systems in the past, and I've found them all to be much more complicated, or limited in various ways, compared to using a text editor to take down and manage tasks in a free-form way, combined with wikis for keeping larger task lists organized.


Microsoft Game Software Preps Soldiers For Battle 44

coondoggie writes "Soldiers may go into battle better prepared to handle equipment and with a greater knowledge of their surroundings after an intellectual property licensing deal Monday between Microsoft and Lockheed Martin that will deepen the defense giant's access to visual simulation technology. The intellectual property agreement between the two focuses on Microsoft ESP, a games-based visual simulation software platform for the PC."

Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site 174

mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"

Comment RPGMaker does this nicely (Score 1) 578

One interesting example of "dumbing down programming" is the RPGMaker series, particularly the VX and XP versions.

You can do basically all of your game eventing, scripting, resource editing, etc, a using user-friendly gui, no need to touch programming code. And you can do some fairly involved "eventing" logic, which is basically a very high level scripting language that you edit through user-friendly dialogue boxes.

But you can also start digging into the lower details. Actually, the core of the RPGMaker game engine is Ruby code, including an interpreter, which loads, interprets, etc the above resources. And that engine is very easy to extend, using custom Ruby coding. And in fact there is a huge number of custom scripts you can download from third parties to customize your games that way. Basically you can customize just about anything that way, except for the user-friendly editor that most people use.


The Psychology of Achievement In Playing Games 80

A post on Pixel Poppers looks at the psychological underpinnings of the types of challenges offered by different game genres, and the effect those challenges have on determining which players find the games entertaining. Quoting: "To progress in an action game, the player has to improve, which is by no means guaranteed — but to progress in an RPG, the characters have to improve, which is inevitable. ... It turns out there are two different ways people respond to challenges. Some people see them as opportunities to perform — to demonstrate their talent or intellect. Others see them as opportunities to master — to improve their skill or knowledge. Say you take a person with a performance orientation ('Paul') and a person with a mastery orientation ('Matt'). Give them each an easy puzzle, and they will both do well. Paul will complete it quickly and smile proudly at how well he performed. Matt will complete it quickly and be satisfied that he has mastered the skill involved. Now give them each a difficult puzzle. Paul will jump in gamely, but it will soon become clear he cannot overcome it as impressively as he did the last one. The opportunity to show off has disappeared, and Paul will lose interest and give up. Matt, on the other hand, when stymied, will push harder. His early failure means there's still something to be learned here, and he will persevere until he does so and solves the puzzle."

The State of Ruby VMs — Ruby Renaissance 89

igrigorik writes "In the short span of just a couple of years, the Ruby VM space has evolved to more than just a handful of choices: MRI, JRuby, IronRuby, MacRuby, Rubinius, MagLev, REE and BlueRuby. Four of these VMs will hit 1.0 status in the upcoming year and will open up entirely new possibilities for the language — Mac apps via MacRuby, Ruby in the browser via Silverlight, object persistence via Smalltalk VM, and so forth. This article takes a detailed look at the past year, the progress of each project, and where the community is heading. It's an exciting time to be a Rubyist."

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