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What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '14 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-was-the-age-that-gave-us-star-control-2 department:
jonyami writes: "Indie games have existed for as long as there's been something to play and something to play it on. From the humble Apple II to modern PCs, Xbox Live Arcade and the Kickstarter revolution, just what was the greatest age for indie games? A new article takes a look at the various eras, the top indie games and the future — which one do you reckon is on top?"

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Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '14 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-sorry-dave,-that-volvo-looked-at-me-funny department:
An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Lin of California Polytechnic State University explores one of the ethical problems autonomous car developers are going to have to solve: crash prioritization. He posits this scenario: suppose an autonomous car determines a crash is unavoidable, but has the option of swerving right into a small car with few safety features or swerving left into a heavier car that's more structurally sound. Do the people programming the car have it intentionally crash into the vehicle less likely to crumple? It might make more sense, and lead to fewer fatalities — but it sure wouldn't feel that way to the people in the car that got hit. He says, '[W]hile human drivers may be forgiven for making a poor split-second reaction – for instance, crashing into a Pinto that's prone to explode, instead of a more stable object – robot cars won't enjoy that freedom. Programmers have all the time in the world to get it right. It's the difference between premeditated murder and involuntary manslaughter.' We could somewhat randomize outcomes, but that would lead to generate just as much trouble. Lin adds, 'The larger challenge, though, isn't thinking through ethical dilemmas. It's also about setting accurate expectations with users and the general public who might find themselves surprised in bad ways by autonomous cars. Whatever answer to an ethical dilemma the car industry might lean towards will not be satisfying to everyone.'"

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Chinese E-Commerce Giant To Enter US Market
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '14 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-will-there-be-free-shipping department:
An anonymous reader writes "Alibaba Group Holding, a Chinese company, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on Tuesday to the tune of $1 billion dollars. Alibaba is an e-commerce company whose success has ensured that more than half of all parcel deliveries in China, the world's largest internet market, are directly attributed to Alibaba customers. Critics, citing cultural differences (i.e., consumer branding and shopping preferences) as well as entrenched U.S. competition, say that the company may not be as successful in the U.S. Businesses such as Amazon, eBay, and PayPal already provide the type of services that the Alibaba Group offers. On the other hand, U.S. consumers and business owners may welcome the prospect of having one more company vying for their patronage. More competition, after all, means more incentive to keep prices low enough to attract and retain more end-users."

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Job Postings For Python, NoSQL, Apache Hadoop Way Up This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's year-of-the-accidental-dba department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: "Dice [note: our corporate overlord] collects a ton of data from job postings. Its latest findings? The number of jobs posted for NoSQL experts has risen 54 percent year-over-year, ahead of postings for professionals skilled in so-called 'Big Data' (up 46 percent), Apache Hadoop (43 percent), and Python (16 percent). Employers are also seeking those with expertise in Software-as-a-Service platforms, to the tune of 20 percent more job postings over the past twelve months; in a similar vein, postings for tech professionals with some cloud experience have leapt 27 percent in the same period. Nothing earth-shattering here, but it's perhaps interesting to note that, for all the hype surrounding some of these things, there's actually significant demand behind them."

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EVE Online's Space Economy Currently Worth $18 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where-can-i-go-to-invest-in-imaginary-spaceships department:
DavidGilbert99 writes: "According to Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the lead economist of CCP Games, developer of EVE Online, the total amount of ISK (InterStellar Kredits) in the system at the moment is 600 trillion, which equates to about $18 million in real world money — and the economist believes we could learn a lot from how the economy works in the game. There was a massive battle within the game earlier this year, which CCP estimated destroyed between $300,000 and $330,000 worth of game materials. Guðmundsson said, 'In economics there is a big difference between consumption and loss. In EVE, the war is the consumption of the economy. Even though they are giving money away they are not losing value, they are gaining something instead. People were willing to spend that money [in the Battle of B-R5RB] to get this thrill of participating in this battle.'"

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Microsoft Doesn't Have Plans For a Dedicated Handheld Gaming Device
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mobile-kinect-will-never-be-a-thing department:
DroidJason1 writes: "Rumors have persisted for a while now that Microsoft is working on a dedicated handheld gaming device to go against the Sony PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS. The head of Xbox has now responded to a question about it from an eager gamer on Twitter who asked whether there were any plans for a 'handheld Xbox-One-like gaming device.' The answer is no. Microsoft is focused on Windows Phone, tablets, and perhaps both with controller support someday."

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Dropbox and Box Leaked Shared Private Files Through Google
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 06:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everything's-secure-until-it-isn't department:
judgecorp writes: "People using shared storage providers such as Box and Dropbox are leaking data, a competitor has discovered. Links to shared files leak out when those links are accidentally put into the Google search box, or if users click links from within the documents. Dropbox competitor Intralinks stumbled across mortgage applications and bank statements while checking Google Analytics data for a Google Adwords campaign. Graham Cluley explains the problem in detail and suggests answers: for Dropbox users, it means upgrading to the Business version, which lets you restrict access to shared document links."
Dropbox has posted an official response and disabled access to previously shared links. Box made a vague statement about their awareness of the issue.

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Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's port-quake-3-to-my-microwave department:
An anonymous reader writes "I've been teaching myself to code recently. I've made good progress so far, and I've written a bunch of little scripts to make my life easier. Here's the problem: most project ideas I come up with now either seem pretty easy or pretty impossible. I'm having trouble thinking of a project that'll stretch my skills without overloading them. I've tried finding open source projects to read through, but I run into the same thing: either it's straight-forward, or it requires reading a half-dozen dependencies, each of which has dependencies of their own. Anyone have suggestions on some intermediate-skill projects to undertake? Or some project files in an online repo that go beyond the basics without getting overwhelming? My language of choice is Python, but other languages are welcome."

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Comcast: Destroying What Makes a Competitive Internet Possible
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's have-your-cake-and-stream-it-too department:
An anonymous reader writes "Vox has another in-depth report on the perilous state of net neutrality regulation, and how Comcast is attempting to undermine it. Quoting: 'In the bill-and-keep internet, companies at each "end" of a connection bill their own customers — whether that customer is a big web company like Google, or a an average household. Neither end pays the other for interconnection. ... ISP's typically do this by hiring a third party to provide "transit," the service of carrying data from one network to another. Transit providers often swap traffic with one another without money changing hands. ... The terminating monopoly problem occurs when a company at the end of a network not only charges its own customers for their connection, but charges companies in the middle of the network an extra premium to be able to reach its customers. In a bill-and-keep regime, the money always flows in the other direction — from customers to ISPs to transit companies. ... But when an ISP's market share gets large enough, the calculus changes. Comcast has 80 times as many subscribers as Vermont has households. So when Comcast demands payment to deliver content to its own customers, Netflix and its transit suppliers can't afford to laugh it off. The potential costs to Netflix's bottom line are too large.'"

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Open Source Program To Give Voters More Active Role In Government
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-ways-to-express-your-internet-rage department:
An anonymous reader writes "Argentinian political activists are developing an open source program that will allow voters to direct their representatives on how to vote on certain issues by giving voters a platform to debate and vote on issues themselves. Started as an accompaniment to and a fundamental feature of a new political party in Argentina, Democracy OS is not designed to be anonymous (i.e., no secret ballots, no anonymous comments). 'Fortunately, the software isn't yet being used to gather real votes, just to gather public feedback.' Critics see this program as yet another iteration of Germany's Pirate Party, which could not engage enough voters in its own open source program, Liquid Feedback, to gain any meaningful policy direction from their constituents. German newspaper Der Spiegel once called the movement 'a grassroots democracy where no one is showing up to participate.'"

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Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ace-your-exam-in-one-easy-step department:
mpicpp sends in the story of Jason Padgett, a man who developed extraordinary mathematical abilities as the result of brain trauma when he was attacked outside a bar. "Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Wash., who had very little interest in academics, developed the ability to visualize complex mathematical objects and physics concepts intuitively. The injury, while devastating, seems to have unlocked part of his brain that makes everything in his world appear to have a mathematical structure 'I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life' — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain, Padgett told Live Science." "He describes his vision as 'discrete picture frames with a line connecting them, but still at real speed.' If you think of vision as the brain taking pictures all the time and smoothing them into a video, it's as though Padgett sees the frames without the smoothing. "

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The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
v3rgEz sends this piece from the Boston Globe:
"Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists. This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, as this article explores in-depth: 'Why is it so expensive to publish in these open-access journals? According to the journals, these fees defray their publication and operating costs. However, this argument is undermined by the existence of open-access journals that charge authors nothing and have negligible operating costs. One prominent example is the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), one of the top publications in the field of machine learning. JMLR has a similar editorial process to many other journals, with a volunteer editorial board and an automated system for managing the peer-review process. Unlike many closed-access publishers, it does not take any advertising. MIT provides the web server for hosting JMLR, which would otherwise cost around $15 per year. The biggest expense is paying for a tax accountant to deal with paperwork so JMLR can maintain its tax-exempt status. Altogether, the total cost of running JMLR since it was founded in 2000 is estimated to be less than $7,000, or $6.50 per article published. This proves that cheap open-access publishing is possible.'"

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US Military Drones Migrating To Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 01:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's arming-the-penguin department:
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter. Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon's control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a recent Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs. Raytheon's tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement universal UAV control qualities. As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft."

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Polio Causes Global Health Emergency
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's polio-2:-the-revenge department:
mdsolar (1045926) sends this news from Bloomberg: "The spread of polio to countries previously considered free of the crippling disease is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, as the virus once driven to the brink of extinction mounts a comeback. Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose the greatest risk of exporting the virus to other countries, and should ensure that residents have been vaccinated before they travel, the Geneva-based WHO said in a statement today after a meeting of its emergency committee. It's only the second time the United Nations agency has declared a public health emergency of international concern, after the 2009 influenza pandemic. Polio has resurged as military conflicts from Sudan to Pakistan disrupt vaccination campaigns, giving the virus a toehold. The number of cases reached a record low of 223 globally in 2012 and jumped to 417 last year, according to the WHO. There have been 74 cases this year, including 59 in Pakistan, during what is usually polio's 'low season,' the WHO said. "

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US Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-it-was-cold-yesterday department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Darryl Fears reports in the Washington Post on the U.S. government's newest national assessment of climate change. It says Americans are already feeling the effects of global warming. The assessment carves the nation into sections and examines the impacts: More sea-level rise, flooding, storm surge, precipitation and heat waves in the Northeast; frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and Caribbean; more drought and wildfires in the Southwest. 'Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.' The report concludes that over recent decades, climate science has advanced significantly and that increased scrutiny has led to increased certainty that we are now seeing impacts associated with human-induced climate change. 'What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now. While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.'"

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Another Year of LinuxFest Northwest (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's volunteer-for-15-years-and-you-get-15-shirts-with-logos-on-them department:
We last interviewed LinuxFest volunteer Jakob Perry in January, 2013, when he and the rest of the crew that makes this event happen were gearing up for their 14th version of this outstanding regional Linux/FOSS conference. Now they've gotten through LinuxFest 15, which makes this one of the longest-lasting Linux shows around. And Jakob is still helping to put it together, as he has since he was a teenager. Since he's been with LinuxFest Northwest since the beginning, this gives him some serious longevity cred, especially when you realize that he has been volunteering with LFNW since he was 15 years old -- and hasn't seemed to lose a bit of his enthusiasm in all that time. (Alternate Video Link)

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The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's phones-of-middling-intelligence department:
zarmanto writes: "The numbers have been telling us for a while now that (formerly expensive) feature phones have been slowly displaced by more feature-rich, high-end smartphones. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the other end of the market is also receiving active encroachment by low-end smartphones. Now, ARM is suggesting that it's actually quite conceivable for OEMs to produce a 'smartphone' for as little as $20 — as long as you compromise a bit on those things which actually make it a smartphone in the first place. So, is this just more graying of the line between smartphones and feature phones? Or is this an indication that the feature phone (as we used to know it) is finally well-and-truly dead?"

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Actual Results of Crimean Secession Vote Leaked
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-quite-as-advertised department:
An anonymous reader writes "Forbes reported on Monday that The President of Russia's Council on Civil Society and Human Rights very briefly and supposedly by accident posted the actual results of the Crimean secession vote. According to the blog post, which has since been taken down, only 30% of Crimeans participated in the vote instead of the 83% participation officially advertised by Russia, and of that 30% only half voted for secession, which means that 15% of all Crimeans voted for secession rather than the 82% officially reported by Russia. There is no way for this claim to be verified as no foreign observers were allowed during the voting process. The vote is reportedly being conducted again during the 'May 11 referendum on the status of the so-called People's Republic of Donetsk.'" We've had a lot of discussion over the years about election methods and transparency; it would be interesting to hear from Ukranian readers in particular on this topic.

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Richard Stallman Answers Your Questions
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's listen-up department:
samzenpus (5) writes "A while ago you had the chance to ask GNU and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman about GNU, copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. Below you'll find his answers to those questions."

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Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy
Posted by News Fetcher on May 06 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-swear-not-to-reveal-the-swearing-in department:
An anonymous reader writes "Vigilant Solutions maintains what they claim is the nation's largest database of license-plate tracking data, 'LEARN' (Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network). But when a law enforcement agency signs up to use the database, they are sworn to keep it secret. The reason? They are quite clear about that: 'to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS.' So, they're tracking you (they're tracking everybody)... but they don't want you to know. The agreement, uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states: You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you."

Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's 'specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished."


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