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Classic Games (Games)

How Death Rally Got Ported 89

An anonymous reader writes "Last year, I got the opportunity to port Remedy Entertainment's Death Rally to modern platforms off its original MS-DOS sources. I wrote an article about the porting process for Game Developer magazine, and now I've posted the text of the article for general consumption. 'The source software platform was DOS, Watcom C, and some Dos4GW-style DOS extender. The extender basically meant you could use more than 640k of memory, and would not need any weird code for data larger than 64k. The game displayed in VESA 640x480 and MCGA 320x200 graphics modes, all with 8-bit palettes; there was no true color anywhere. There were also some per-frame palette change tricks that emulators have trouble with. The source code was mostly pure C with a couple dozen inline assembly functions. There were a few missing subsystems, specifically audio and networking, which would have to be replaced completely anyway, as well as one file for which the source code was lost and only a compiled object was available.'"
Australia

A How-To Website For Australian Voters 158

Twisted64 writes "If you're interested in voting below the line in the upcoming federal election in Australia, but don't want to waste time in the booth individually ranking up to 76 candidates (for the unfortunates in New South Wales), then Cameron McCormack's website may have what you need. The website allows voters to set their preferences beforehand, dragging and dropping Stephen Conroy at the bottom of the barrel and thrusting the Sex Party into pole position (as an utterly random example). Once preferences are set, the site can generate a PDF to be printed and taken to the booth." (More, below.)

Comment Re:really? (Score 1) 379

Indeed it is a "luxury" that largely doesn't help big labels like EA because they can go off of brand-name and star-power to sell their games, actually showing off game-play before someone buys the game means that the consumer might be forewarned on crap-ware titles. Smaller game companies with less reputation and ability to hire big names of course will still need demos.

Of course that doesn't say anything about there being smaller companies. EA and their ilk can make sure of that as a separate matter.

Piracy

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."
NASA

Gamma Ray Mystery Reestablished By Fermi Telescope 95

eldavojohn writes "New observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope reveal that our assumptions about the 'fog' of gamma rays in our universe are not entirely explained by black hole-powered jets emanating from active galaxies — as we previously hypothesized. For now, the researchers are representing the source of unaccounted gamma rays with a dragon (as in 'here be') symbol. A researcher explained that they are certain about this, given Fermi's observations: 'Active galaxies can explain less than 30 percent of the extragalactic gamma-ray background Fermi sees. That leaves a lot of room for scientific discovery as we puzzle out what else may be responsible.' And so we reopen the chapter on background gamma-rays in the science textbooks and hope this eventually sheds even more light on other mysteries of space — like star formation and dark matter."
Technology

Using EMP To Punch Holes In Steel 165

angrytuna writes "The Economist is running a story about a group of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, who've found a way to use an EMP device to shape and punch holes through steel. The process enjoys advantages over both lasers, which take more time to bore the hole (0.2 vs. 1.4 seconds), and by metal presses, which can leave burrs that must be removed by hand."
Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."
Debian

FreeNAS Switching From FreeBSD To Debian Linux 206

dnaumov writes "FreeNAS, a popular, free NAS solution, is moving away from using FreeBSD as its underlying core OS and switching to Debian Linux. Version 0.8 of FreeNAS as well as all further releases are going to be based on Linux, while the FreeBSD-based 0.7 branch of FreeNAS is going into maintenance-only mode, according to main developer Volker Theile. A discussion about the switch, including comments from the developers, can be found on the FreeNAS SourceForge discussion forum. Some users applaud the change, which promises improved hardware compatibility, while others voice concerns regarding the future of their existing setups and lack of ZFS support in Linux."
Google

Submission + - Google OS Announced 12

shystershep writes: "Rumors have been floating around for years that Google was planning an OS to compete with Window. As of Tuesday night, it is official: "So today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be. Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010." It is separate from the Android mobile OS, will run on both x86 and ARM processors, and is aimed primarily at web use. Other than that, details are scarce."
AMD

Submission + - AMD Releases Open-Source R600/700 3D Code (phoronix.com)

lldmer writes: Phoronix has reported AMD released open source code for 3D acceleration on R600/700 GPU's:

Since earlier this year we have been waiting for AMD to release documentation and/or code on the ATI R600 series concerning 3D acceleration so that the open-source Linux drivers can begin to support the newer ATI graphics processors. It has taken longer than expected for AMD to complete and release this information, but it's now available. AMD has released the fundamental Linux code needed to begin fostering the development of an open-source R600 3D driver. Furthermore, this code also concerns the latest R700 series of graphics processors! The microcode for the newest GPUs has also been released.


Games

Inside F.E.A.R. 2's Engine and AI 34

Gamasutra sat down with software engineers from Monolith Productions to discuss the technology behind F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, due out in February. They provide insight into the development of the game's engine, and they discuss the goals and procedures behind creating entertaining AI. Quoting: "For instance, let's say that the AI wanted to kill the enemy. That would mean that there are a whole bunch of actions that satisfy the requirement for there being a dead enemy; let's say, 'Attack with ranged weapon,' right? ... Where the power comes from is the fact that those actions themselves can have conditions that they need to have met. So, 'attack with ranged weapon' may have conditions that say, 'I have to have a weapon, and I have to have it loaded. Go find me more actions that satisfy those requirements.' ... at that point, he may find another action, which is 'go to this weapon,' and then he may find another action which is 'reload your weapon.' So, that whole chain that I just described to you, of him doing three things in a row — which is going to pick up a weapon, loading a weapon, and then going to attack the player — that was not a directed thing that the level designer, nor that the AI engineer had to program; it was just the fact that we have these aggregate actions that the planner can pick from at will.
The Internet

Submission + - Facebook Maxes Out Its Data Center Space (facebook.com)

1sockchuck writes: "Facebook is adding 2 million new users a week, and recently maxed out the data center space at its California facilities. The load on the company's servers "continues to increase at a pretty astounding rate," says Facebook engineer Jason Sobel, who said the fast-growing social networking service has added a data center in Virginia, which is now serving 30 percent of its traffic. Sobel also discusses how Facebook sorts out which data gets stored on the East Coast and West Coast, which has meant some fine-tuning of its MySQL code to properly update Memcached."
Education

Submission + - OLPC a hit in remote Peruvian village (chicagotribune.com)

mrcgran writes: "Chicago Tribune is running a story about the effects of OLPC on a remote village in Peru: "Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. At breakfast, they're already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they're dozing off in front of them — if they've managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines. Peru made the single biggest order to date — more than 272,000 machines — in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed." A detailed log has been kept and a youtube video is also available."
The Courts

Submission + - Judge rules TorrentSpy destroyed evidence (arstechnica.com) 2

Come play kdice writes: "A federal judge has handed the MPAA a resounding victory in its copyright infringement lawsuit against TorrentSpy. Judge Florence-Marie Cooper entered a default judgment against Justin Bunnell and the rest of named defendants in Columbia Pictures et al. v. Justin Bunnell et al. after finding that TorrentSpy "engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence" and lying under oath about said destruction. After being sued, TorrentSpy mounted a vigorous defense, including a countersuit it filed against the MPAA in May 2006, but, behind the scenes, the court documents paint a picture of a company desperately trying to bury any and all incriminating evidence. TorrentSpy has announced its intention to appeal, but its conduct makes a reversal unlikely."
Education

Submission + - 'Floating Bridge' Property of Water Found (physorg.com)

eldavojohn writes: "When exposed to high voltage, water does some interesting things. From the article, ' When exposed to a high-voltage electric field, water in two beakers climbs out of the beakers and crosses empty space to meet, forming the water bridge. The liquid bridge, hovering in space, appears to the human eye to defy gravity. Upon investigating the phenomenon, the scientists found that water was being transported from one beaker to another, usually from the anode beaker to the cathode beaker. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.'"

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