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Games

Balancing Choice With Irreversible Consequences In Games 352

The Moving Pixels blog has an article about the delicate balance within video games between giving players meaningful choices and consequences that cannot necessarily be changed if the player doesn't like her choice afterward. Quoting: "One of my more visceral experiences in gaming came recently while playing Mass Effect 2, in which a series of events led me to believe that I'd just indirectly murdered most of my crew. When the cutscenes ended, I was rocking in my chair, eyes wide, heart pounding, and as control was given over to me once more, I did the only thing that I thought was reasonable to do: I reset the game. This, of course, only led to the revelation that the event was preordained and the inference that (by BioWare's logic) a high degree of magical charisma and blue-colored decision making meant that I could get everything back to normal. ... Charitably, I could say BioWare at least did a good job of conditioning my expectations in such a way that the game could garner this response, but the fact remains: when confronted with a consequence that I couldn't handle, my immediate player's response was to stop and get a do-over. Inevitability was only something that I could accept once it was directly shown to me."
Transportation

Electric Car Subsidies As Handouts For the Rich 589

Atypical Geek writes "Charles Lane, writing for Slate, argues that subsidies for electric cars are an example of 'limousine liberalism' — a lavish gift for well-off Americans to buy expensive cars for the sake of appearing green. From the article: 'How rarefied is the electric-car demographic? When Deloitte Consulting interviewed industry experts and 2,000 potential buyers, it found that from now until 2020, only "young, very high income individuals" — from households making more than $200,000 a year — would even be interested in plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars.' Lane also takes issue with the billions of dollars in subsidies offered to automakers for the manufacture of batteries, arguing that research (warning, PDF) concludes that the money will not help in jump-starting the economies of scale that will drive down prices. At least, not as much or as quickly as the President has argued."
Cellphones

Jailbreaking iPhone Now Legal 423

whisper_jeff writes "The US government on Monday announced new rules making it officially legal for iPhone owners to 'jailbreak' their device and run unauthorized third-party applications, as well as the ability to unlock any cell phone for use on multiple carriers." The EFF has further details on this and some of the other legal protections granted in the new rules.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Building a Powerhouse Netbook 2

iPhr0stByt3 writes: So my dad wants a netbook and asked me what I think he should get. I'm looking for near maximum specs, but want to benefit from the cheap Windows starter edition license. We could probably discuss all day what is better: HDD or SDD? WinXP or Win7? (Linux is out of question for him.) What I'd like to get him: Win7 starter, (min 32GB) SSD, (preferred) Intel Atom 275 (or 270) and 2GB RAM. The 2BG RAM is of course not allowed for the starter license, but as far as I know I'm free to install my own 2GB RAM. Therefore, an OCZ or Zotac barebones machine might be a good idea, but how do I get Win7 starter OEM in that case? Also I have not found a barebones with Atom 27x If I look for complete netbooks I cannot find any with all the above specs. Can anyone enlighten me? Perhaps the specs I want will be available a month or two down the road? Maybe I should look for a machine with a slower CPU?
Medicine

3D Displays May Be Hazardous To Young Children 386

SchlimpyChicken writes "Turns out 3D television can be inherently dangerous to developing children, and perhaps to adults as well. There's a malaise in children that can prevent full stereopsis (depth perception) from developing, called strabismus or lazy-eye. It is an abnormal alignment of the eyes in which the eyes do not focus on the same object — kind of like when you watch a 3D movie. As a result, depth perception is compromised. Acting on a hunch, the guys over at Audioholics contacted Mark Pesce, who worked with Sega on its VR Headset over 15 years ago — you know, the headset that never made it to market. As it turns out, back then Sega uncovered serious health risks involved with children consuming 3D and quickly buried the reports, and the project. Unfortunately, the same dangers exist in today's 3D, and the electronics, movie, and gaming industries seem to be ignoring the issue. If fully realized, 3D just might affect the vision of millions of children and, according to the latest research, many adults, across the country." The Audioholics article is a good candidate for perusing with Readability — the pseudo-link popups are blinding.
Data Storage

SanDisk WORM SD Card Can Store Data For 100 Years 267

CWmike writes "SanDisk has announced a 1GB Secure Digital card that can store data for 100 years, but can be written on only once. The WORM (write once, read many) card is 'tamper-proof' and data cannot be altered or deleted, SanDisk said in a statement. The card is designed for long-time preservation of crucial data like legal documents, medical files and forensic evidence, SanDisk said. SanDisk determined the media's 100-year data-retention lifespan based on internal tests conducted at normal room temperatures. The company said it is shipping the media in volume to the Japanese police force to archive images as an alternative to film. The company is working with a number of consumer electronics companies, including camera vendors, to support the media."

Submission + - 10 years ago today, Microsoft unveiled .NET (networkworld.com)

jbrodkin writes: 10 years ago today, Microsoft promised to build "the next generation Internet" when it unveiled the .NET Framework, now one of the most popular frameworks used by software developers. Steve Ballmer took a shot at Linux while announcing .NET on June 22, 2000, saying "I'm not sure [Linux is] a very good approach for taking new trails and affecting transformation."
A decade later, the drive toward cloud computing is being fueled largely by open source technologies such as Linux and Xen, but Microsoft is still going strong with .NET as it accelerates its own cloud strategy.

Medicine

What US Health Care Needs 584

Medical doctor and writer Atul Gawande gave the commencement address recently at Stanford's School of Medicine. In it he lays out very precisely and in a nonpartisan way what is wrong with the institution of medical care in the US — why it is both so expensive and so ineffective at delivering quality care uniformly across the board. "Half a century ago, medicine was neither costly nor effective. Since then, however, science has... enumerated and identified... more than 13,600 diagnoses — 13,600 different ways our bodies can fail. And for each one we've discovered beneficial remedies... But those remedies now include more than six thousand drugs and four thousand medical and surgical procedures. Our job in medicine is to make sure that all of this capability is deployed, town by town, in the right way at the right time, without harm or waste of resources, for every person alive. And we're struggling. There is no industry in the world with 13,600 different service lines to deliver. ... And then there is the frightening federal debt we will face. By 2025, we will owe more money than our economy produces. One side says war spending is the problem, the other says it's the economic bailout plan. But take both away and you've made almost no difference. Our deficit problem — far and away — is the soaring and seemingly unstoppable cost of health care. ... Like politics, all medicine is local. Medicine requires the successful function of systems — of people and of technologies. Among our most profound difficulties is making them work together. If I want to give my patients the best care possible, not only must I do a good job, but a whole collection of diverse components must somehow mesh effectively. ... This will take science. It will take art. It will take innovation. It will take ambition. And it will take humility. But the fantastic thing is: This is what you get to do."
Google

Google Builds a Native PDF Reader Into Chrome 285

An anonymous reader writes "Google's latest Chrome 6 Developer Update comes with a few subtle GUI changes, but there is also a major update under the hood. As its ties with Adobe quite apparently grow stronger, there is not just an integrated Flash player, but also a native PDF reader in the latest version of Chrome 6. Google says the native reader will allow users to interact with PDF files just like they do with regular HTML pages. The reader is included in Chrome versions (Chromium) 6.0.437.1 and higher, and you can use the feature after you have enabled it manually in the plug-ins menu. That is, of course, if you can keep Chrome 6 alive — Windows users have reported frequent crashes, and Google has temporarily suspended the update progress to find out what is going on." The Register has some more details on the PDF plugin and a link to Google's blog post about it.
Google

Why Google's Wi-Fi Payload Collection Was Inadvertent 267

Reader Lauren Weinstein found a blog post that gives a good, fairly technical explanation of why Google's collection of Wi-Fi payload data was incidental, and why it's easy to collect Wi-Fi payload data accidentally in the course of mapping Wi-Fi access points. "Although some people are suspicious of their explanation, Google is almost certainly telling the truth when it claims it was an accident. The technology for Wi-Fi scanning means it's easy to inadvertently capture too much information, and be unaware of it. ... It's really easy to protect your data: simply turn on WPA. This completely stops Google (or anybody else) from spying on your private data. ... Laws against this won't stop the bad guys (hackers). They will only unfairly punish good guys (like Google) whenever they make a mistake. ... [A]nybody who has experience in Wi-Fi mapping would believe Google. Data packets help Google find more access-points and triangulate them, yet the payload of the packets do nothing useful for Google because they are only fragments."
Math

Ranking Soccer Players By Following the Bouncing Ball 142

sciencehabit excerpts from an interesting report on statistics for soccer, in the stats-obsessed world of sports: "Only a handful of soccer ranking systems exist, most of which rely on limited information: the number of goals scored in a match, the number of goals assisted, and some indices of a match's difficulty and importance. ... So researchers turned to an unlikely source: social networks. Applying the kinds of mathematical techniques used to map Facebook friends and other networks, the team created software that can trace the ball's flow from player to player. As the program follows the ball, it assigns points for precise passing and for passes that ultimately lead to a shot at the goal. Whether the shot succeeds doesn't matter. Only the ball's flow toward the goal and each player's role in getting it there factors into the program's point system, which then calculates a skill index for each team and player."
Science

What Scientists Really Think About Religion 1123

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post has a book review of Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, who spent four years doing a detailed survey of 1,646 scientists at elite American research universities. The study reveals that scientists often practice a closeted faith, worrying about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. 'After four years of research, at least one thing became clear: Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The '"insurmountable hostility" between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliche, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality,' writes Ecklund. Unsurprisingly, Ecklund found that 64% of scientists are either atheists (34%) or agnostic (30%). But only five of the 275 in-depth interviewees actively oppose religion; and even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves 'spiritual.' 'According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a "strong culture" that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas,' says Ecklund. 'To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.'"
Image

Marine Mammals Used To Fight Terrorism Screenshot-sm 131

pinkstuff writes "The Navy unveiled its terror-fighting marine mammals at a two-day homeland security and disaster preparedness exercise in California this week. From the article: 'A Navy seal — actually a sea lion — took less than a minute to find a fake mine under a pier near San Francisco's AT&T Park. A dolphin quickly located a terrorist lurking in the black water before another sea lion, using a device carried in its mouth, cuffed the pretend saboteur's ankle so authorities could reel him in.' Queue the 'frickin lasers' jokes."
Apple

Submission + - Windows 7 faster than Mac OS X on Apple hardware (phoronix.com) 2

G3ckoG33k writes: Phoronix has tested Windows 7 vs Ubuntu vs Mac OS, and made the conclusion "Microsoft Windows 7 x64 was significantly faster than Mac OS X 10.6.3 on Apple's very own hardware". Ubuntu came out in the middle. How much of a flamebait isn't that?! Is it time for yet another flamewar?

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