phorm writes: In a notice to Kickstarter backers, pebble has stated that — following the acquisition by Fitbit — they will no longer promote, manufacture, or sell devices. Further, while existing functionality may continue, it is likely to be degraded and warranty support will no longer be provided. This includes any recently shipped Pebble models. For those that were eagerly awaiting shipment of Pebble Time 2 and other newer devices, those devices will not ship at all. Pebble has indicated refunds will be made within 4-8 weeks. Those expecting their money may not want to hold their breath, however, because a contradictory statement made by to backers by email says that refunds will be made via Kickstarter by March 2017.
phorm writes: With issues like "GamerGate" etc often painting a poor pictures of Gamers or Geeks on general, what can be done to address some of the real issues behind hostility online? Or, to perhaps better phrase it, how can we get rid of the few but highly visible persons behind these issues. Many vendors purport to be dealing with issues, but the reality is that they still seem to want to keep the trolls "in the game", if perhaps a bit less disruptive. At the same time, they're often quite quick to jump on those they suspect are involved in fraud, etc, so it seems reasonable to think that they have means to ban and to some extent track those that are involved in activities that affect the bottom line.
So the big question is: when does "bad behavior" become bannable behavior? Is it only when money is involved? There's also cases where botting, hacking, etc have also resulted in a permanent ban. Beyond that, it seems that only extremely bad publicity can lead to a permanent ban.
However, we have a huge problem in many games with those whose sole purpose is to troll others. Throwing games, cursing out other players for no reason, playing random noise through the mic, there are some people who live simply exist to screw with others. It shouldn't be that hard to identify them, so why can't we have legitimate consequences to deal with them?
phorm writes: Can anybody offer an informed opinion on the Bluetooth sound quality for the newer Android devices (Galaxy S5/S6, Asus Zenfone etc).
I currently have a Galaxy S4, and noticed quite some time ago that Bluetooth audio quality on my car stereo was rather poor, which I attributed to the stereo rather than my mobile. I more recently got a set of BT headphones and notice that the high end is similarly tinny/distorted on my mobile, but was fine with my laptop. I looked into it and read that iDevices do better at this (better compression CODEC support?) and so then tried out an iPod 4th generation. The sound is DEFINITELY better on the iPod with Bluetooth.
Phone-wise, I don't think I'm an iDevice person, but I was wondering if there are Android devices/phones with better BT audio than my current device. Does anyone have suggestions of better devices (or ways to improve BT quality, such as a mod or newer OS)? Current I'm using Android 4.2.2
phorm writes: As a bit of a gamer, hacker, and coder, I've been playing with various 3D development kits for some time. There's actually a lot of choice out there, much of it crossing not only the PC triumvirate, but also into tablet/phone OS's.
However, perhaps one of the reasons we lack major AAA games on Linux is the lack of a AAA engines or dev platforms. Two of the bigger free options are Ogre3d and Irrlicht.
Ogre seems good for those with some coding knowledge who want to jumping into mid-level functionality. It allows for one to quickly develop a polished environment and with decent modern effects. However, sometimes it holds your hand too much to the point where more advanced functionality becomes difficult to implement: notably advanced collision detection and manual objects/terrain. Documentation rot may also be an issue if you're trying to use a newer version with older tutorials. Ogre3d is free and open-source.
Irrlicht, on the other hand, seems to offer flexibility, but definitely holds your hand less. This makes it somewhat more complicated for a mid-level coder to get down to business and see results quickly. Irrlicht is free and open-source
Unity — which targets more AAA game development — has increased Linux support more recently. While it still primarily focuses on Windows development, the producers do seem to recognise that Linux may be an increasingly viable option in the gaming market. Currently Linux desktop publishing is still in preview, but seems to be making good progress.
Lastly, the new kid on the (Linux) block. LeadWerks will be finishing their kickstarter soon, allowing for full Linux support (as well as additional features). Leadwerks is not a free solution, but the ~$100 price for backers won't break the bank. Leadwerks also offers source-code licenses according to their site.
phorm writes: While it's no secret that sketchy app vendors tend to ask for unusual permissions on mobile devices, it seems that the "Big Name" companies are joining the fray.
I recently noticed that apps such as Electronic Arts "Need for Speed: Most Wanted" are asking for permissions such as the ability to read contacts.
On android phones, this gives them ability to see your contacts, including how and when you've communicated with contacts on your devices.
One wonders why a game would need to know who's on my call list and when I'm calling them. Is this an issue with dev-houses abusing the permissions of trusting users, or a sign that permissions in apps are still too broad.
It also shows how forward-thinking privacy-wise RIM was for their security model, as Blackberry apps can be set to "always allow", "always deny", or a more secure "prompt on demand" type security elevation. How is it that more popular device OS's still lack such core security functionality?
Recently the Canadian media has focused in on the story of Amanda Todd, a young girl hounded by bullies until she eventually committed suicide. While the story of bullying — or the horrible impact it can have — is not in itself unique, the somewhat haunting legacy of a video left by Amanda is.
The video — without words — shows Amanda as she holds up a series of notes detailing how a small mistake led to exploitation, isolation, violence, and pain.
The media is abuzz. Politicians are vowing to make a difference, and that things will change. But in the grand scheme, they really don't, do they? This is not a new story. Young people have died before. Politians have made speeches before. Schools will counsel. New rules will be made, and forgotten, left unenforced, or even misused. People will forget. Bullying will continue.
Social media, while allowing friends to stay connected, unfortunately also allows people like Amanda to be continually targetted, reducing the safe-havens for those in the crosshairs.I'm sure many here have stories of their own, and slashdot's own trolls are testiment to the despicableness and persistence of those who will do anything to get a reaction.
Some of us survive, perhaps to become stronger. Some — like Amanda — will not.
For those that know bullying, who have been its victims and survived, is there anything we can do? I watched this video wondering if — had I seen it before it was too late — could I have reached out and made a difference?
Is there a place where young — or perhaps even those not so young — can go where they can realize they aren't alone? In my day, I had friends across the world in IRC. People I didn't know but could talk to and share my thoughts on life. But even then, people who understood my particular situation were few and far between.
So where do they go? The lost. The depressed. Those that could have a bright future if they can just survive their youth. Where can they find shelter, to survive or even thrive?
Does such a place exist? How can we keep it safe from the aggressors, and how can we help young people find it.
At the end of the video, Amanda states... I have nobody. I need somebody.
How can we help these young people discover that they're not alone?
phorm writes: As more and more devices are coming out with dense-pixel displays, it seems that the "x dead pixel" clause in warranties has become prolific with all vendors. Specifically, the clause states that the vendor will only consider a unit defective if the LCD has a certain amount (usually 4-5, but often it's specific as to certain amounts in different parts of the LCD) of dead pixels.
An LCD with a dead pixel is a problem. 2-3 dead pixels would to most be considered a fairly obvious defect.
How is it that the manufacturers get to say what constitutes a real defect or not? We don't have clauses on new cars that say "engine is not considered defective unless 2 or more pistons are seized", so what is it considered acceptable for LCD's. Moreover, for a new-in-box product, how enforceable are these terms (which are generally not clearly available on packaging)?
For a fee, various suppliers offer anti no-dead-pixel-on-delivery warranty. If the issue is so common, why do people seem to accept it (and what's your recourse if you don't).
Lastly, when dense-pixel displays are often so dense that the human eye can't perceive a single pixel, how do you tell how many are dead (especially when a single "white" pixel is comprised of at least 3 component colors).
phorm writes: The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada is suing various telecommunications companies across Canada over the use of music "previews" (up to 30 seconds) for use as ringtones.
The CBC article is a bit short, but many questions could arise from the lawsuit. While the current lawsuit seems mainly targeted at ringtones, it could perhaps have a broader impact against sites which allow short previews of music, and what would the impact upon self-created ringtones (perhaps clipped from legally purchased music) be?
phorm writes: After driving a taxpayer into poverty, the CRA (Canadian Eqivilent to the IRS) continues to refuse compensation for its victim.
Irvin Leroux honestly paid his taxes, and did not run afoul of the tax agency until 1996. During an audit, the agency accidentally misplaced his receipts, sending them to the shredder. Without the expenses allowed by the receipts, several years of audits against Leroux ballooned to approximately a million dollars, comprised of "owed" back-taxes and penalties. Despite finding that the CRA actually owed Laroux approximately $24,000, no compensation has been offered for the life-destroying costs associated with the debacle.
With his assets all lost or seized, Leroux has struggled to live, let alone pay expensive lawyers. His case has been taken up by the "Canadian Constitution Foundation," which will hopefully proving for all citizens that the government can be held accountable for such mistakes.
phorm writes: "Recently, I've been looking up some various sci-fi shows that seem to have ended prematurely, wondering if perhaps they reached a conclusion on paper/DVD that they did not reach on television. As we all know, many are canceled due to lack of "popular" interest (they may be popular in the geek crowd but not enough of the mainstream), or conflicts with primary actors, etc
According to wikipedia, one series — "Dark skies" — met an interesting demise in that it was several times deemed too expensive to conclude on DVD or other media due to the prohibitive cost of licensing the music. Specifically, the wiki article (which cites other sources) indicates the expense was in "potential costs involved in licensing the period music."
This had led me to wonder: is this another case where lengthy extended copyrights have killed future potential? How often does music kill film, or possibly other media?
The last dated notation on this particular movie is from January 2009. For a series that premiered over a decade ago to be killed off by music that is likely even older shows how further and further lengthening of copyright has anything but a beneficial affect upon the entertainment industry overall."
phorm writes: "Microsoft is running a new contest to promote IE8, which — to users of other browsers — appears to severely lack in professionalism or good taste.
Had this link not been on the official microsoft.com website, I would have had a hard time believing that even they could so have let this one slip past the PR department, however if you visit http://www.microsoft.com/australia/ie8/competition/ with firefox, you will get the message that Microsoft has "buried" $10,000 somewhere on the internet, "but you'll never find it using old firefox."
The page goes on further to state that you should "Get rid of it, or get lost"
Is this Microsoft's true attitude, or was this just a poorly worded attempt at humor that slipped through the PR cracks?"
phorm writes: "While filtering for SPAM on email and other related mediums seems to be fairly productive, there is a growing issue with SPAM on forums, message-boards, blogs, and other such sites. In many cases, sites use prevention methods such as capchas or question-answer values to try and restrict input to human-only visitors. However, even with such safeguards — and especially with most forms of capchya being cracked fairly often these days — it seems that spammers are becoming an increasing nuisance in this regard.
While searching for plugins or extensions to spamassassin etc I have had little luck finding anything not tied into the email framework. Google searches for PHP-based spam filtering tends to come up with mostly commercial and/or more email-related filters.
Does anyone know of a good system for filtering spam in general messages? Preferably such a system would FOSS, and something with a daemon component (accessible by port or socket) to offer quick response-times."
phorm writes: "BBC is carrying an article which states that 90% of visitors to Europe's "video game addiction clinic" are not, in fact, addicted. The problem is a social one rather than a psychological issue.
In other words, the patients have turned to heavy gaming because they felt they didn't fit in elsewhere, or that they fit in better "in the game" than elsewhere in "the real world." This has been discussed before, with arguments ranging from gaming being a good way to socialize, the clinical definition of gaming addiction, and claims than males are wired for video-game addiction."
phorm writes: "Reuters is carrying an article about a recent MIT development which may pave the way for solar-energy to be collected for use in low-input periods. According to Reuters, the discovery of the a new catalyst for separating hydrogen+oxygen from water requires only 10% of the electricity of current methods. This would allow storage-cells to function as a form of battery for other forms of energy-collection, such as solar panels. The new method is also much safer (and likely environmentally friendly) than current methods, which require the use of a dangerously caustic environment, and specialized storage containers."
phorm writes: "Not only is Bell interfering with third-party traffic, but — according to CBC — they want third-party ISP and phone carriers off their network entirely.
This Story details how Bell is lobbying to lease-conditions on their networks removed, stating that enough competition exists that they should not longer be required to lease infrastructure to third-parties. Perhaps throttling is just the beginning?"