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Businesses

Submission + - Dell Bait and Switch 1

coldfarnorth writes: I recently found out the hard way that if you buy a machine with Vista Ultimate installed on it from Dell, you get exactly half of what Microsoft sells as the same product. According to Microsoft's web page (at the bottom of the page), Vista Ultimate is the only version of windows for which you need not specify that you want either the 32-bit or the 64-bit version; Both are included. According to the Dell's website (Home and Home Office), you can order "Windows Vista Ultimate" on your computer. No provisos, no disclaimers, no asterisks, no fine print. You might think that the two products would be the same, but when my computer arrived I was shown to be, shall we say, a bit optimistic. Although Dell proudly touted it as a containing a 64-bit processor, it arrived with only the 32-bit version of Vista.

After calling Dell, dealing with two levels of scripted problem solving, explaining six ways that, I was not interested in a new computer, I merely wanted what had been specified at the time of sale, I was firmly told that that my only recourse was to speak to the Conflict Resolution Team. Still better, I could not call them, they would call me. After another brief circus, I spoke with a gentleman whose accent had been outsourced, and I was assured yet again that there was absolutely nothing that Dell could do about the confusion. Had I complained within 21 days of receiving the laptop, I could have returned it (but that date had passed).

The rest of the conversation was a debate on what Dell had offered when the computer was ordered. I pointed out that Microsoft only sold one version of Vista Ultimate and that if Dell was offering Vista Ultimate, it seemed reasonable to assume that I was getting the whole product, as Dell offered no information suggesting otherwise. His response was a gem: Why should I assume that the two products were the same? After all, Dell had presented nothing in writing to that effect. Further discussion proved equally futile, and the conversation ended.

That essentially left me out of options. I had gotten as far into Customer Service (ha) as anyone would let me go. I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has been bothered by this particular bait-and-switch, and have managed to get this resolved in their favor.
United States

Submission + - TX Science Educator Fired - Was Non-Neutral re: ID (nytimes.com) 1

jeffporcaro writes: "Texas' Director of Science Curriculum was "forced to step down" for favoring evolution over intelligent design (ID). She apparently circulated an e-mail that was critical of ID — although state regulations require her not to have any opinion "on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral." I hope they don't enforce the same kind of neutrality regarding heliocentricity or other scientific "debates.""
Books

Submission + - Project Arcade

Craig Maloney writes: "Growing up, I found myself more than once in an arcade, be it in the mall, Meijer, or a free-standing building. The atmosphere was unmistakable: loud, with lots of activity, and people getting fully immersed and "in the zone" between them and their pixellated avatar. While playing an arcade game at home has been possible for many years now, the true arcade experience has been a little more elusive. There's something about having an upright video game cabinet, and playing on arcade hardware that gives the game that extra sense of being right in the arcades of my youth. There are many sites out there that have different plans for building a MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, but most read like a post-mortem for how the author pieced together their particular setup. And what if you just want to convert an old (non-working, I hope) cabinet into a MAME arcade cabinet? Lots of information is out there, but where do you start? Project Arcade is an excellent introduction for building your own MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, and compiles lots of material into one comprehensive book.

Project Arcade is split up in to five parts. The first part describes the planning process, and comprises complete plans for building an arcade cabinet from scratch. The second, third, and fourth parts are a list of parts and design decisions for the hardware for your MAME arcade cabinet, from the control panel and computer, to the speakers and monitor. The fifth part is a summary of various "off-the-shelf" solutions for purchasing a complete MAME-ready arcade cabinet, as well as links to other "inspirational" projects. Obviously, if you're building the MAME arcade cabinet from the wood up, and outfitting it with your own hardware, then most of the book will be applicable to you. I found all sections to be very valuable, and regardless of which direction I take (build or buy) I'll be more informed when I finally devise my plans and make my purchases.

One thing that stood out in Project Arcade was the thoroughness of the book. Unlike some "build your own arcade books", Project Arcade contains complete plans for an arcade cabinet, from start to finish, including lists of all of the materials. I unfortunately didn't build the cabinet, and am not an expert on woodworking, but the plans looked complete and well thought out. At the very least, it left me with the impression that this was something that I could likely handle with some help. The part I am a little more familiar with (the electronics) was quite fascinating. The book catalogs a great deal of hardware available to the arcade-cabinet builder, and there were parts that I didn't know were available, such as screw-terminal keyboard adapters (no more taking apart cheap keyboards for me). The author details many different joysticks, trackballs, and button choices available, with thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of each choice. I felt through most of the book like I was being guided by someone who was passionate about building excellent MAME arcade cabinets, and had a lot of knowledge to share. Even the section on pre-made cabinets was carefully put together, with the benefits of each cabinet design explained thoroughly. There are also copious amounts of photos, so you'll know exactly what it is you're looking at. Also, where applicable, there are diagrams and charts to aid and assist.

Unfortunately, the strengths of Project Arcade are also part of its weaknesses. There are a LOT of parts described in the book. After a few pages of the same type of part, my mind started to wander. While the descriptions are comprehensive and insightful, I found myself after a while thinking "I get it already". Detailed descriptions of taking apart keyboards and soldering to them to me seemed obvious, but I can see why the author decided to take the time to explain the process more thoroughly for those who may not be as comfortable taking apart something electronic. Also, the book focused mostly on the hardware for building a MAME arcade cabinet. I would have appreciated the same depth of discussion on the software available to complete the project, mostly because I think the author could have brought some very insightful recommendations on what software to use with the MAME arcade cabinet.

When I build my MAME cabinet, be it a conversion of an old (non-working) cabinet, or from scratch, Project Arcade will definitely be the book I use on that project. While the descriptions can be a bit verbose, the book delivers a very thorough and insightful perspective on what I should be looking for when envisioning what my completed MAME cabinet should be. Much like a do-it-yourself book for remodeling your bathroom, the book can only provide you guidance; the finished project is up to your creativity and imagination. Project Arcade is that guidance to building yourself the perfect MAME arcade cabinet."
Enlightenment

Submission + - Is the $100 laptop the end for Moore's Law?

Timothy Harrington writes: According to Cnet.co.uk the $100 laptop could spell the end of Moore's Law. The article says "Moore's law is great for making tech faster, and for making slower, existing tech cheaper, but when consumers realise their personal lust for faster hardware makes almost zero financial sense, and hurts the environment with greater demands for power, will they start to demand cheaper, more efficient 'third-world' computers that are just as effective?" Will ridiculously cheap laptops wean consumers off ridiculously fast components?
First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - How FPS storylines are written (bit-tech.net)

Might E. Mouse writes: "Cynics might say "Who needs a storyline for an FPS game?" and if we're talking Quake or Doom then fair enough. But to brand the entire genre as lacking in story is to condem gems like [i]Half-Life 2[/i]. So what goes into writing a really compelling storyline for an FPS game then? bit-tech has a great article exploring this topic with the likes of Martin Lancaster, writer / designer for Crysis, Rob Yescombe, writer of Haze and more. A must read for anyone interested in getting into game design / writing."

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