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Emscripten and New Javascript Engine Bring Unreal Engine To Firefox 124

MojoKid writes "There's no doubt that gaming on the Web has improved dramatically in recent years, but Mozilla believes it has developed new technology that will deliver a big leap in what browser-based gaming can become. The company developed a highly-optimized version of Javascript that's designed to 'supercharge' a game's code to deliver near-native performance. And now that innovation has enabled Mozilla to bring Epic's Unreal Engine 3 to the browser. As a sort of proof of concept, Mozilla debuted this BananaBread game demo that was built using WebGL, Emscripten, and the new JavaScript version called 'asm.js.' Mozilla says that it's working with the likes of EA, Disney, and ZeptoLab to optimize games for the mobile Web, as well." Emscripten was previously used to port Doom to the browser.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.

To Prevent Deforestation, Brazilian Supermarkets Ban Amazon Meat 94

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets, representing 2,800 members, says it will no longer sell meat from cattle raised in the rainforest, a step they hope will cut down on the illegal use of rainforest where huge swathes have been turned into land for pasture and soy plantations. Public Prosecutor Daniel Cesar Azeredo Avelino says consumers will benefit from the deal. 'The agreement foresees a series of specific actions to inform the consumer about the origin of the meat both through the internet and at the supermarkets,' says Azeredo. 'We hope that the big chains will quickly take action.' The supermarkets' pledge comes as part of an initiative by the Public Prosecutor's Office to deprive the meat producers of outlets and an internet campaign aimed at informing Brazilian consumers of the ethics of boycotting meat from Amazonian sources is also planned. Brazil's Greenpeace advocacy group says the growth of the cattle industry in the Amazon is the single biggest cause of deforestation. For decades now, Brazilian authorities have battled illegal logging and other activities that continue to reduce the rainforest and in January the Brazilian government announced it plans to prepare an inventory of the trees in the Amazon rainforest. The Forestry Ministry said the census would take four years to complete and would provide detailed data on tree species, soils and biodiversity in the world's largest rainforest. The last such exhaustive survey was conducted more than three decades ago but didn't help stop deforestation."

Comment What are "Asian scripts"? (Score 1, Interesting) 123

First of all, "Asian scripts" is a totally bogus term: East Asian scripts (Chinese and derivatives, aka CJK), which are logographic, has no relation whatsoever with other Asian scripts (e. g. Mongolian, Thai, Indic, Arabic etc.), which are alphabetic and very much related to non-Asian alphabetic scripts (e. g. Greek and derivatives like Latin).

Second of all, neither the CJK scripts nor the other Asian scripts has a stronger emphasis on line thickness than non-Asian scripts. Including line thickness as an additional parameter would certainly improve OCR for CJK, but no more than it would for any other script.

Comment Credible source (Score 1) 651

From TFA: "Citing sources in the defense contracting and intelligence consulting community, the iDefense report unambiguously declares that the Chinese government was, in fact, behind the effort."

Right, for what possible sinister reason could people in the American "defense contracting and intelligence consulting community" have to paint China as a threat to US national security?

Comment Re:A few details (Score 0) 491

BTW, in day-to-day operations, German's ICE and Japan's Sinkansen often go beyond 300 km/h. Frace's TGV never does, and Canada's Bombaardier doesn't even work well above 200 km/h. The expected top speed in day-to-day operations for this route is about 350 km/h with the German trains and 300 km/h with the Japanese.

But as car-lovers know, more difficult than driving fast is braking fast. The new Chinese trains uses Siemens' braking technology that provides five (!) entirely different, independently operating braking systems, of which only one needs to work (that's 400% redundant, obsessive even for German standards) in order to completely stop the train within a few km. That's why this route is not only going to be one of the fastest in the world, but also one of the most densely operated (i. e. shortest safety distance between one train and the next).

Comment A few details (Score 5, Informative) 491

Someone in my family works for Siemens as a senior member of the China High-Speed Rail project (not to be confused with the China Maglev project, for which Siemens is also a partner). We've talked about it quite often - and fairly extensively yesterday. Here are a few details:

The technologies of all four major high-speed rail system in the world - Germany's ICE, Japan's Sinkansen, France's TGV and Canada's Bombardier (in order of overall technological advancement) - have come together in China, though rather reluctantly. When the Chinese started the project years ago, they did something very clever: Instead of picking one of the four systems (which is what people normally do), they gave all four a pilot contract each. The one showing the best result in its pilot would then be chosen as the main partner, they said, making all four competing like crazy - routinely investing more resources than they've originally planed. The Chinese are not concerned about significant waste due to incompatibility between the pilot products, since all four are building to the specs written by the Chinese.

Now, years later, the Canadians and the French are practically washed out, even though some of their technologies have contributed to the new Chinese system. The Germans and the Japanese remain - as initially expected - the main competitors - or, reluctant partners for the Chinese. The vast majority of heavy lifting on the technological front is done by the Germans (which was also expected, since even the Japanese system was originally based on German designs), but the Japanese have the advantage that their pilot has started earlier (the Chinese intentionally delayed the German pilot in order to ransom a below-value price).

The record speed, for example, was achieved using two joined trains - of four sections each - built by Siemens in Germany and put together in China. Those are the only two German trains current available for this route. All the other trains are Japanese, and they're what people see on most new footages. But the top speed the Japanese trains (on the same route) can reach are significantly lower - about 350 km/h, or >10% less than the German record. Plus, while the German rains got to 395 km/h in standard configuration - with two tracking (active) and two tracked (passive) sections in each train - the Japanese had to cheat - using three tracking and only one tracked section in each train - in order to reach their 350 km/h.

As someone has mentioned above, there exist a TGV speed record that's much higher still, but that's a record nobody in the industry takes seriously, because it was achieved with a totally crazy, not nearly practical configuration of train sections. It's a fake number, period.

The bottom line is, for the original cost of one project, China has managed to get more than twice the amount worth of know-how (all legally via proper technology transfer contracts), and is now itself among the leading players of the industry. For the upcoming US high-speed rail system, the Chinese has offered a bid with a price tag 1/3 lower than anybody else...

Comment Less code = faster? (Score 3, Insightful) 578

From TFA: "I suppose that adds up, 90 per cent less code equates to ten times faster."

Really? I suppose you can write haiku ten times faster than stream-of-conscious recordings, too?

There's one thing that computer code and natural language text have in common: For both, confusing "writing" with "typing" is moronic.

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