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Submission + - Video Games Lead to Fast, Accurate Decisions (

moller writes: From the press release:

Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn't just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.

Comment Re:Harvard can pick only the best students (Score 1) 371

That's because Caltech has a notoriously brutal curriculum. Consequently, grades are lower than other schools of that caliber, and Caltech has the lowest freshmen retention rate of any "top tier" school. There was a rumor going around that it was possible to do two years of a physics degree at Caltech, transfer to Harvard as a senior physics major, graduate and be back at Caltech for grad school in physics while your classmates were still undergrads. Supposedly someone did this - although they were probably taking the same classes as their former undergraduate classmates when they returned.

This was also very evident at the annual job fair. Several companies from the Bay Area that drew a large amount of employees from Stanford wouldn't even talk to anyone that didn't have a 4.0 GPA at Caltech. Other companies that employed a large number of Caltech alums openly admitted to students that they would mentally add a full 1.0 to a Caltech GPA when looking at a student's resume.

FWIW the vast majority of classes at Caltech use takehome exams. The "weeder" EE course switched to an oral exam when I was there, but that was 11 years ago and I don't know if they still do that.

Disclaimer: I attended Caltech for undergrad but did not graduate, and my wife has a Ph.D. from Caltech.

Comment My college advisor told us about this years ago (Score 1) 135

Although it was about traveling outside the country.

He was teaching the Networking course, and during a brief section on security and encryption he mentioned how he had recently been traveling (he wouldn't say where, but he was born in India) and stayed at a five-star hotel while he was out of the country. He then pointed out how he had requested a new/temporary credit card from his bank for the trip, which he only used to pay for the hotel, and he canceled the card as soon as he was back in the US.

By the time he had gotten back to the states, the card had already been stolen/compromised.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - Study shows most gamers prefer less gore.. (

moller writes: Researchers at the University of Rochester have a paper (link to the press release) being published today in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin describing a study which showed that most gamers preferred entertainment which provided a wide range of choices, new challenges, and a large degree of autonomy over games with violent and gory content. From the article: "For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus," explained Andrew Przybylski, a University graduate student and lead author of the study. "Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally report being more aggressive," added Przybylski, however, even these hostile players did not report increased pleasure when playing more gruesome games. The study consisted of two main parts — the first was a pair of surveys asking 2,673 gamers questions about their favorite games; the second involved over 300 undergraduates testing their responses to violent video games using Half-Life 2 and House of the Dead III. The games were modified to have controllable levels of violence and gore in order to provided a controlled test environment.

Submission + - Watchmen Lawsuit Resolved, Release Date March 6 (

eldavojohn writes: "Fox & Warner have settled the possible show stopping lawsuit plaguing the adaptation of one of the most famous graphic novels. According to Reuters, Fox will likely recieve a cut of box office income as well as a cash settlement upfront after a judge ruled that Fox did have an interest. As a result, March 6th is still the release date, it has not been delayed. The accumulated hype of all their trailers and commercials foamed up about their waists and all the fan boys and movie goers looked up and shouted "Save Us!"... and they looked down, and whispered, "Ok"."

Scientist Develops Caffeinated Baked Goods 195

Zephyros writes "The AP is reporting on a scientist who has found a way to get caffeine into donuts, bagels, and other baked goods without the bitter flavor. Each piece has as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. No word on when or where they will be available, but for those of us that just don't get the same kick from the morning cuppa that we used to, this may be another tasty delivery vector to look forward to for that jump-start."

Submission + - Subscription Television - Past, Present and Future

dpu writes: "Who would pay $1.99 to download a television episode that only costs about $0.0014 to see on cable? This is a short essay on the current and past state of subscription television, and a hope for the future. It skips a lot of points that the thinkers among us might care about, but it does the math and drives a nail into Big Content's pinky toe."

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