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Comment This is a big deal (Score 4, Interesting) 31

One can nit-pick all they want, but this is a really great move by Microsoft. We happen to use Azure already, so it's like free cookies (the yummy kind, not the browser kind).

IP Trolls are a significant threat to any business, and anything that helps is extremely welcome.

Obviously they didn't do this just out of the pure kindness of their hearts... it gives them a potential competitive advantage in the rapidly expanding cloud market. But a pretty smart one at that.

Comment Re:Not a new thing by a lot! (Score 1) 91

Well my circumstance is a little more complex than being just Dumb Mr. Consumer:

I own a shit ton of both... because I make mobile games. So, regardless, I'm going to be buying the latest iPhone no matter what. I prefer iPhones, so that's what I carry. And this is the only major issue I have had with it... whereas Androids... well... that's a whole other thing.

And, incidentally, considering how much money I've made off of making games on these things.... no amount of hassle will ever make this a net negative for me.

Comment Not a new thing by a lot! (Score 1) 91

I hate to break it to Apple et al, but this symptom is not new. Had this on on our iPhone 6 going back over a year with my wife's 6s.

Apple, which has usually been good about these things, refused to replace the phone. I had the same issue on my last 6... I just held out until the 7 came out since I didn't feel like arguing with an Apple employee about it AGAIN.

My 7 has not had the issue... yet. But not I'm wary it will return since, if this story details are accurate, we're talking about software not hardware issues.

Comment ... but still... not groking free speech (Score 1) 546

It's still a bit stunning to me how few people understand the whole concept of "Freedom of Speech". Even this anon doesn't seem to understand what it is all about. There is nothing in the First Amendment about you or me impinging on anyone's freedom of speech, only on congress passing laws that would do so.

So it would not matter what Anonymous did, unless Anonymous happened to be the law-making body of our government (i.e. congress) that would apply. So the whole free speech part of the press release speaks really poorly of their (or that person's) understanding of this particular issue. There was no need to defend themselves from the imputed accusation that they were impinging on someone's freedom of speech, since they are perfectly free to do so if they wanted too.

Comment I hate to be THAT GUY... (Score 2) 242

But, I was seriously disappointing in the film. Not due to the book, since I have not read it. But because it gave the impression it was going to have some sort of scientifically-accurate veneer on it.

But as the story unfolded, I immediately started to shake my head and smack my forehead in disbelief at the blatant nonsense of the film from a science standpoint.

It would take an immense post to cover all of the things that wrong both scientifically, practically or procedurally. For those interested, I'll cover as many as I can before fatigue sets in. This is based on the film, not the book.

Launching a space-ship in a violent storm. So violent that it is pushing the dang thing over. Obviously one could argue it was designed for that, but I see no reason to believe it was from the movie.

Watney is hit by debris and whisked away. An astronaut asks how long he could survive if his suit was breached (or something like that). A) That question would not be asked, they would know. B) The answer is not whatever they said (1 minute or something) but rather 3 minutes (max, which is what they'd be concerned with).

Watney is in left on the surface, and wakes up the next.... day, I guess. O2 is low, apparently, but otherwise in pretty good sleep. Suit or no, he would have faced freezing to death. Quite often the film deals with cold one moment and then ignores it the next.

Funny thing... he used a normal Hero camera to do his vlogging... yet the results as shown were 3D. :)

Watney talks about the awful things that can go wrong. The final one he says something like, "... and if the hab fails... I'll implode!" Implode? You don't implode in a thin atmosphere! Or even zero-atmosphere. Your bowels and bladder would evacuate. You'd lose consciousness pretty quick, and die in 3. If you held your breath your lungs would rupture. But you don't frikin implode. He must be thinking of... the bottom of the sea or something? Mr. science astronaut guy would never say anything so lame-brained.

Hollywood's rediculous portrayal of computers, even the kind everyday people use, is on full display. Sure, some of us appreciate the shoe-horned in nod to Zork 2 and Leather Goddesses of Phobos (especially, given it's Mars), but takes nothing away form everything else shown. When Watney goes around talking about "Hex-Y-Decimal" spoken like someone who's never picked a color for a web page before, I just cringed.

It wasn't clear, but it also looks like he tried to point the communication dish at Earth? It is true Pathfinder had the ability to communicate directly to earth through both a low and high gain antenna, but the way it would work is the low-gain is omnidirecitonal, and once signal is received then they remotely determine how to orient the high-gain which is more focused. That is more of a quibble.

Some basic of Mars are wrong, like gravity. Sure, hard to get right.... but still wrong.

There were many scenes on the Hermes where EVA was treated very poorly. I was really amused when the one guy pop'd the hatch to watch the docking operation. Maybe he was going to help out instead of what was really happening.... putting himself and the mission in ridiculous danger. The whole EVA crawling around the space station was just shy of Gravity-level ridiculousness.

Basics of space wrong: There is no sound in the vacuum of space. Sure some sounds could be heard in the suits from things happening to the suit (things dinking off the helmet or whatnot) but there was way more sound than that going on.

The Hermes itself was not believable. It had these parts with gigantic glass picture windows. That's not a likely design feature. Needing a bomb to open a hatch... okay maybe, but mostly just seemed a way to try and figure out how to "science up a bomb" on screen than anything.

I'm sorry to disappoint, but poking a hole in your glove does not make you Iron Man. How do I know? Because this has happened before. Know what really happens? Your skin seals the hole, ,without much notice, and you get a little red welt that goes away later. Very non-dramatic.

Now I think the worst part for me had to be where they introduce the supposed astro-navigation socially-inept genius. Everything about that was absurd.

First, the idea of a sling-shot gravity assist to get back to Mars is not some genius plan. It is basic space vessel navigation. The idea he had to dumb it down so the head of NASA could understand it was so laughable I almost fell out of my seat. Bad plot device... BAD.

Seeing him sit in a data center with his laptop jacked into some server so it could tell him "Calculations Correct" was a laugh-out-loud moment. Guessing those servers were not on any network, huh? And, um, why would Mathmatica not run the same on both computers? :)

Nothing to do with science, but watching them try and lift every cool line they could form Apollo 13 made my eyes roll each time. They WERE cool in Apollo 13, but here they sounded desperate in an Armageddon-sort-of-way.

I didn't read the book, and it wasn't mentioned, but it looked like Watney might have had scurvy at the end there. If so, that part was a nice touch. I assume his vitamins must have run out at some point.

I must be forgetting as many gaffs as I remember.

Getting things right wouldn't make this story worse, it would have made it better. It didn't look like there was decisions made to skimp on the accuracy so much as a lack of caring. From what I understand, the opposite of the book.


Comment This is a BS concern. (Score 4, Insightful) 468

I use Waze virtually every day. It can only be used to spot for cops who are running speedtraps. It doesn't "stalk" them in anyway. It is not very accurate because it relies on someone to note their location, and cops move a lot (say, when they go after a speeder and setup somewhere else or move on with other duties). At best it can bed give you info like "There's been some activity by police looking for speeders around here recently."

If Google caves to this nonsense, I'm going to be very disappointed. And, for the record, never have any reason to use Waze again.

Comment Not a great comparison to Moby-Dick. (Score 2) 135

Moby Dick is fiction, but was highly influenced and factually informed by the tragic events and wreck of the whaleship Essex. Melville was consumed by the stories of the surviving crew, and was inspired by them to write Moby-Dick. It's a fictional work immersed in a strong, accurate nonfiction document.

The following book about the Essex is superb, for those with further interest. It won a nonfiction National Book Award. You will stay up very late reading it.

            In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Comment This guy doesn't know Unity (Score 4, Insightful) 127

I hate to say it, but this Jeff guy is fairly cluesless when it comes to Unity. And is, therefore, in a poor position to give any useful insight into Unity vs. UE4.

My studio (of roughly 27 years) has used a lot of tech in its time. We even developed our own engine, HeroEngine (used in games like Star Wars The Old Republic MMO). We've made lots of games and have lots of experience with Unity. I used Unity to do the Android port of Temple Run, and we've made a lot other titles with it too. We're currently working on a marquee franchise for a major publisher... using Unity.

Unity is not just for small teams. Jeff didn't do his homework on this one. Our team is 27 strong, using git for version control. We use a deep feature-branch approach and it works well not only for our developers, but our non-techies: artists, designers, sound guys, etc. Sure there are issues with Unity and version control, but you find ways to make it work through convention and approach. Same thing happens in all Engines. They all have their issues. The only engine that put collaboration at the forefront was our HeroEngine, but even that has issues. Though we sold off that tech, you can still check it yourself... just Google.

The 32 bit editor limit is true, but is it really an issue? It never has been for us. His problems smell strongly of bad development practices... they can't seem to manage their memory resources well and that suggests other major issues in their group. Just reads a bit amateur to me. No engine will save you from bad practices. The game builds are 64 bit, and the Editor will be also in Unity 5 (how did he not know this?).

It is notable that the guy is fascinated with a lot of things in UE4 that, as it turns out, you can also do as well or even better in Unity. He loves, for instance, Blueprint visual scripting... did he bother to check out uScript for Unity? He loves the node-based Shader in UE4.... well there is ShaderForge in Unity. He loves Physically Based Rendering in UE4 but doesn't mention Alloy in Unity. Sure some of these things are add on costs (usually pretty tiny) and there are also lower cost or sometimes even free alternatives to many of them. The best part is you can mix and match which pieces work best for you. If you don't like UE4's node-based shader... tough! But in Unity you have a few to pick form..... .... or better yet, you can make your own! The best part of Unity is how seamlessly extensible the editor is. This is a huge productivity booster. Every game we do we create custom tools that enhance the efficiency of the designers and artists. It's so easy to do, you just naturally create augmenting tools as the need comes up. Our designers and artists can do amazing things without ever having worry about writing any code... much less even a visual scripting system. This is because we made the tools specific to the game that let them express what they need all from the inspectors and the scene tools.

Another cool thing: make a great addon that is generally useful... then wrap it up and sell it in the Asset Store. Monetize that sucker! Or give it away for free if you like.

Is Unity perfect? Nope. But it is insanely efficient for developing games. Works with any sized team well enough, and creates titles that run across tons of platforms. And the Asset Store is a treasure trove of extensions that just make it better and better all the time.

The places where it falls behind a tad are either addresseable from add ons, and ultimately in Unity 5.

I am not advocating that one choose Unity over UE4... but if you are going to make an argument, at least make a balanced one with all the facts. I would take his critique with a grain of salt. Try each engine yourself, but make sure you take the time to fully understand both the tool and its eco-system and how it applies to what you are doing. And above all, make sure you have sharp developers on your team who understand the fundamentals. Like I said, no tool will get you out of a jam of your own making.

Comment Re:NASA has become small indeed... (Score 4, Interesting) 108

I will join you in the eye roll, but directed to your post.

I assumed anyone reading my OP would understand I was talking about a specific engineering and exploration *project* rolled up from scratch (which is a colloquial term, with the literary license customary for such usage). Take the logic of your post far enough, and I would have to credit Australopithecus for the discovery of fire.

We all, to paraphrase Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants. So too did the engineers at NASA. This should not require further explanation.

Meanwhile, judging by the serial explosive failures of the 50s rocket tech you mentioned, and the weak tea served up by Mercury vs. the superior Russian tech, Apollo did not have the kind of technological base you've implied, anyway.

If you read a good history of the Apollo effort, you'll find that the engineers *desperately* wanted a clean sheet approach. And they got it. Along with a government that cut red tape and cleared the way for them to do what they were there to do.

Those days are gone.

Comment NASA has become small indeed... (Score 5, Insightful) 108

It took 8 years from Kennedy's speech in 1961 to a human on the moon in 1969. Not only did NASA get a moon rocket designed, tested, and launched in that time, it also got an intermediate rocket program (Gemini) designed, tested, and launched prior to the moon program.

From scratch.

Now we're looking at (maybe) 11 years to develop a working rocket to go to an asteroid. Oh boy, journey to an, umm, space rock. Really stirs the heart, doesn't it? And this after willingly withdrawing from manned spaceflight capacity altogether for at least six years, and counting. Yep, just folding the cards and walking away from the table.

Sure, go ahead and tell me how technically challenging the space rock odyssey will be. But the call of space comes from the same place the call of the sea arose from in the past. To Terra Incognita, where "Here Be Dragons." Sorry, there be no dragons around the space rock.

The technical wizardry missions could and should be handled by robots. Humans should be reserved for missions which stir the soul, or the people who pay for such things (you and me) will stop paying.

It's hard to think of a better demonstration of how the US used to get things done, and how it does things now, than to compare the space program we had 50 years ago to the current version.

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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