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Comment Re:Books? (Score 2) 46

I'm sorry, the disregard for books in these responses is unbelievable.

Sure, if one is studying engineering, mathematics or computer science one may question the necessity of having a massive collection of books in a library and wonder why it wouldn't be better to have just the latest data available online.

However, as it happens, these aren't the only things one studies at university. If you are doing history, the social sciences or literature, your degree involves a lot of open-ended research that may take you to esoteric, obscure topics. It may occur to you to need a 400-page book written 70 years ago about the dietary habits of third-century Roman slaves, or a structural analysis of how postcolonial policies affected Indonesian aristocracy. There is, simply put, far too much information distributed amongst so many books, every one of which are significant in some way.

This is why, as much as the system adopted by UTS IS a technological marvel, the notion of moving old books into storage and having "people [at] the center of the library rather than the books" is essentially flawed: a lot of study involves open-ended research and the ability to browse through shelf after shelf of books is crucial. At the University of Sydney just down the road where I studied, they are doing a similar library restructuring: adding more "study spaces" and moving hundreds of thousands of books from the open stack to (human-maintained) storage - and this changes people's study habits for the worst. Students are less likely to be successful in browsing the shelves and finding information they wants and other relevant texts, and become more used to looking at online article databases. Which have a bias towards things published more recently, and papers do not go into topics anywhere in depth as actual books - blinding students from the wealth of information locked away in the murky depths of "storage".

Universities are a place of learning, and the library should be the accessible fountain of knowledge that all ought to benefit from. Please, keeps the books forever.


Chinese Firm Helps Iran Spy On Citizens 98

New submitter politkal excerpts from a report at Reuters: "A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show. The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran's landline telephone services and much of Iran's internet traffic is required to flow through its network. ... Human rights groups say they have documented numerous cases in which the Iranian government tracked down and arrested critics by monitoring their telephone calls or internet activities. Iran this month set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said it would protect 'against internet evils,' according to Iranian state television."

Comment Re:What we do/don't need in Calculus. (Score 1) 1153

I tend to go one step further and believe that there are political/financial motivations for this "negative emphasis" on not just mathematical, but all forms of rigorous logical education.

Firstly, it can be seen as trying to appeal to the "will of the majority" and the popular discourse of inclusionism, thus making the less educated people content in their place and giving them the illusion that all skills are created equal. Indeed, the portrayal of education itself as 'eugenicist' and 'classist' mean that even the intention to go into further education can become stigmatised, especially to the "majority" which popular rhetoric have placed as antithetical to the "upper class's" whims.

This has the function of allowing political and business interests to leverage this lack of understanding to manipulate the population based on faux-mathematics and faulty logic. We see this happening every day, in areas such as the economy and counterterrorism, and it seems to be working well. "Facts and figures" are treated like holy scriptures, and even their logical inconsistencies are accepted without question - creating a docile class of proles that publicists (who all along knew the power of numbers and rhetoric) can easily manipulate for their own means.

This is why maths - and other forms or logical education is important in this day and age: it encourages people to be analytical, logical and find out answers to themselves, something highly threatening to the current politics of ignorance. Knowledge is power, folks!

(Disclaimer: I'm a Gender/Cultural Studies major, former straight-Maths student.)

Comment Re:150m isn't that far (Score 1) 144

Bingo, that's pretty much what this thing's built for. Over here in Aussieland we call them 'rips', schoolchildren are taught about them, and they're pretty much the reason that surf lifesavers (who the device is intended for, as TFA states) exist in the first place. Warning: Rips are faster than a human can swim and WILL drag you out to the deep stuff in no time unless you get out of it by swimming sideways.

Comment Re:Is it just me? (Score 1) 127

As a starry-eyed 21-year-old I just have to say...

This is bloody brilliant, and looking at it makes me amazed that people once actually invented and engineered complex devices by hand, then disappointed in the realisation that today everyone takes the easy way out with solenoids, microcontrollers and bloated code that doesn't let you completely understand what's going on in there.

As much as I'd like to get into mechanical computing/engineering as a hobby, it seems to be mainly dead outside of a few eccentric British circles... is there any way for the new generation to come close to understanding what once was?

-Aly =]

Comment Re:If you only read one sentence of the article, (Score 1) 315

"I want to find ideas that are global."

I'm not entirely sure that making a game 'global' would lead to its popularity in this day and age.

Up until the 90's, limitations in graphics and programming meant that games had to be abstract, to varying extents. When playing Asteroids, Donkey Kong or even Pokemon, their semblance to reality didn't really matter as we all knew it was just a game to have fun with. Thus, games were inherently more globalised, with less direct referencing to existing cultural products (and if there was referencing it was obvious that it was solely for marketing most of the time).

In today's day and age, however, advances in graphics and programming - combined with the prevalence of visual media through Internet videos, reality TV and increased broadcast coverage of everything that happens means that games are conceptualised as extensions of existing cultural products or genres, whether that be football, guitars, anime, war, science fiction or history. This creates marketability through association and familiarity of the source material, and enables video games to be placed within our current understandings of popular culture.

Seeing as preferences for various forms of popular culture widely differ across countries, I'm not at all surprised that Japan's influence in games has waned; there is enough of a local market that Japanese developers inevitably subscribe to Japanese conventions on popular culture, which often alienates foreign players to whom these conventions are not automatically assumed. The same applies for the Western game industry, who often draw upon MTV (and the like) for the concept of (masculine-oriented) 'coolness' that seem to dominate Western game aesthetics. Though I can't say for sure, I would think that a similar phenomenon is occurring between the American and European game industries, and I can't see the situation reversing, what with the continuous obsession with graphics and pseudorealism.

Aly =]

Comment Different kinds of game music? (Score 4, Insightful) 68

I thought this was a reasonably sound article, but it neglected something that I always found interesting about game soundtracks: namely, the correlation between the musical styles used and the game's country of origin.

For instance, Final Fantasy and Myst both feature orchestral soundtracks but the composing techniques used do vary, leading to different effects being created. The tendency seems to be that Japanese games feature melodic tunes for every scene/stage/level whereas Western games tend to use more ambient compositions.

Would someone with more knowledge in the area care to elaborate?

The Military

Researchers To Build Underwater Airplane 263

coondoggie writes to tell us that DARPA seems to still be having fun with their funding and continues to aim for the "far out." The latest program, a submersible airplane, seems to have been pulled directly from science fiction. Hopefully this voyage to the bottom of the sea is of the non-permanent variety. "According to DARPA: 'The difficulty with developing such a craft come from the diametrically opposed requirements that exist for an airplane and a submarine. While the primary goal for airplane designers is to try and minimize weight, a submarine must be extremely heavy in order to submerge underwater. In addition, the flow conditions and the systems designed to control a submarine and an airplane are radically different, due to the order of magnitude difference in the densities of air and water.'"

Apple vs Apple -- Judgment Day 310

DaphneDiane writes "According to the Times Online Apple Computer successfully defended themselves vs the suit brought by Apple Corps." If you are looking for background on the case we had talked about it earlier. I'm just relieved that the battle of two bazillion dollar companies turned out well. Phew. And, of course, Apple Corp has filed an appeal already.

Asus PW191 LCD Review 176

Tom's Hardware has quite the flattering review of one of the latest LCDs coming from Asus, the Asus PW191. From the review: "I won't mince words. The PW191 is the handsomest monitor I've ever seen. It's true that people's tastes vary, but no one can deny that the Asus designers have talent. While a lot of their competitors are using a white Macintosh look for lack of better ideas, Asus is innovating, offering designs that are both personal and novel. And they've applied that know-how to good effect in designing the PW191. The monitor's lines are superb, and the choice of colors is elegant and restrained."

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