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BioShock 2 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's look-at-little-sister deptartment:
BioShock 2 launched today for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows, ending the wait for a sequel to the original 2007 blockbuster. The events in BioShock 2 take place 10 years after the story from the original game. This time around, players control a prototype Big Daddy in an attempt to overthrow the new leader of Rapture. Early reviews for the game are quite strong, though the developers were prepared for fan backlash over some of the changes they made. The Guardian's Nicky Woolf praises the new storyline, and adds that "there is a fundamentally excellent shooter here too, with some of the best combat dynamics in the business." Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alec Meer also had good things to say about the combat: "I can't stress this enough – as a game about shooting people, it's very responsive and very rewarding." However, Meer expressed disappointment that some of the impressive new concept art didn't get used and that the story and environment couldn't match the novelty of the original game. "Part of Rapture's great wonder was that it was just believable enough, if you squinted your brain a bit (or a lot), but this lathers on so much wild sci-fi that it's much harder to connect to it. The Sisters are elevated from horrifying genetic/psychological experiment into all-powerful messiah figures capable of pulling any old deus ex machina out of the hat. Making them into so much reduces the power and the sadness of what they are. As a result, the concept feels too exhausted to ever be used again."

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How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's step-one-invent-time-travel deptartment:
itwbennett writes "It can take a fairly stable team of programmers as long as six months to get to a point where they're estimating programming time fairly close to actuals, says Suvro Upadhyaya, a Senior Software Engineer at Oracle. Accurately estimating programming time is a process of defining limitations, he says. The programmers' experience, domain knowledge, and speed vs. quality all come into play, and it is highly dependent upon the culture of the team/organization. Upadhyaya uses Scrum to estimate programming time. How do you do it?"

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NVIDIA Shows Off "Optimus" Switchable Graphics For Notebooks
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that's-some-prime-namespace deptartment:
Vigile writes "Transformers jokes aside, NVIDIA's newest technology offering hopes to radically change the way notebook computers are built and how customers use them. The promise of both extended battery life and high performance mobile computing has seemed like a pipe dream, and even the most recent updates to 'switchable graphics' left much to be desired in terms of the user experience. Having both an integrated and discrete graphics chip in your notebook does little good if you never switch between the two. Optimus allows the system to seamlessly and instantly change between IGP and discrete NVIDIA GPUs based on the task being run, including games, GPU encoding or Flash video playback. Using new software and hardware technology, notebooks using Optimus can power on and pass control to the GPU in a matter of 300ms and power both the GPU and PCIe lanes completely off when not in use. This can be done without being forced to reboot or even close out your applications, making it a hands-free solution for the customer."

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KDE 4.4 Released Alongside Website Redesign
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-and-shiny deptartment:
Cryophallion writes "KDE 4.4.0 has finally been released, along with a redesign of the KDE.org website. New features include tabbed windows, improved desktop search and social desktop features. 'Major new technologies have been introduced, including social networking and online collaboration features, a new netbook-oriented interface and infrastructural innovations such as the KAuth authentication framework. According to KDE's bug-tracking system, 7293 bugs have been fixed and 1433 new feature requests were implemented.' A feature guide is also available."

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Hardware TPM Hacked
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's matter-of-time deptartment:
BiggerIsBetter writes "Christopher Tarnovsky has pulled off the 'near impossible' TPM hardware hack. We all knew it was only a matter of time; this is why you shouldn't entrust your data to proprietary solutions. From the article: 'The technique can also be used to tap text messages and email belonging to the user of a lost or stolen phone. Tarnovsky said he can't be sure, however, whether his attack would work on TPM chips made by companies other than Infineon. Infineon said it knew this type of attack was possible when it was testing its chips. But the company said independent tests determined that the hack would require such a high skill level that there was a limited chance of it affecting many users. ... The Trusted Computing Group, which sets standards on TPM chips, called the attack "exceedingly difficult to replicate in a real-world environment."'"

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Signs of Water Found On Saturnian Moon Enceladus
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's moon-names-that-make-me-hungry deptartment:
Matt_dk writes "Scientists working on the Cassini space mission have found negatively charged water ions in the ice plume of Enceladus. Their findings, based on analysis from data taken in plume fly-throughs in 2008 and reported in the journal Icarus, provide evidence for the presence of liquid water, which suggests the ingredients for life inside the icy moon. The Cassini plasma spectrometer, used to gather this data, also found other species of negatively charged ions including hydrocarbons."

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Microsoft Phasing Out FAST Search For Linux, Unix
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's going-away deptartment:
viralMeme writes "Microsoft plans to begin phasing out Unix and Linux platform support for its FAST enterprise search products, as of its next release. According to a Thursday blog post from Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Bjørn Olstad, 'We’ve continued to sell, support, and update the Linux and UNIX versions of FAST ESP, and we’ve designed the next wave of FAST products (scheduled for release in the first half of calendar year 2010) to include a cross-platform search core that has been extended to take advantage of web services and support mixed-platform deployment models. With our 2010 products scheduled for release in a few months, we’ve just started to plan for our next wave of products. As a part of that planning process, we have decided that in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX. Many of our customers run FAST ESP on Linux and UNIX today, and we recognize that our future focus on Windows means change. To ease the transition, we’re investing in interoperability between Windows and other operating systems, reaffirming our commitment to 10 years of support for our non-Windows products, and taking concrete steps to help customers plan for the future.'"

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Space Shuttle Spy Gets 15 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shoulda-watched-more-burn-notice-first deptartment:
goG writes "A Chinese-born engineer was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison for hoarding sensitive information about the US space shuttle with the intent of giving it to China. US District Judge Cormac Carney called Chung's crimes a matter of national security, saying he had committed a breach against the trust Boeing and the country had placed in him. Attorney Greg Staples said, 'The [People's Republic of China] is bent on stealing sensitive information from the United States and shows no sign of relenting. Only strong sentences offer any hope of dissuading others from helping the PRC get that technology.' Staples also 'noted in sentencing papers that Chung amassed a personal wealth of more than $3 million US while betraying his adopted country.'"

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Call For Scientific Research Code To Be Released
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-then-people-will-see-how-awful-it-is deptartment:
Pentagram writes "Professor Ince, writing in the Guardian, has issued a call for scientists to make the code they use in the course of their research publicly available. He focuses specifically on the topical controversies in climate science, and concludes with the view that researchers who are able but unwilling to release programs they use should not be regarded as scientists. Quoting: 'There is enough evidence for us to regard a lot of scientific software with worry. For example Professor Les Hatton, an international expert in software testing resident in the Universities of Kent and Kingston, carried out an extensive analysis of several million lines of scientific code. He showed that the software had an unacceptably high level of detectable inconsistencies. For example, interface inconsistencies between software modules which pass data from one part of a program to another occurred at the rate of one in every seven interfaces on average in the programming language Fortran, and one in every 37 interfaces in the language C. This is hugely worrying when you realise that just one error — just one — will usually invalidate a computer program. What he also discovered, even more worryingly, is that the accuracy of results declined from six significant figures to one significant figure during the running of programs.'"

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Google To Challenge Facebook Again
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's clash-of-the-titans deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Google is set to make a fresh attempt to gain a foothold in the booming social networking business, seeking to counter the growing threat that Facebook poses to some of its core services. USA Today reports that the search giant is upgrading Gmail to add social-media tools similar to those found on Facebook, including photo and video sharing within the Gmail application, along with a new tool for status updates. According to reports, Google is planning to give Gmail users a way to aggregate the updates of their various contacts on the service, creating a stream of notifications that would echo the similar real-time streams from Facebook and Twitter. Google's decision to exploit the heavily-used Gmail service as the basis for its latest assault on the social networking business partly reflects the failure of Google's previous stand-alone efforts to enter the social networking sector. Its Orkut networking service, though launched before Facebook, has failed to gain a mass following in most parts of the world, despite success in Brazil, and its acquisition of Twitter rival Jaiku ended in failure after it scrapped development of the service."

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GIMP 2.8 Will Sport a Redesigned UI
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 05:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's rethinking-it deptartment:
ceswiedler writes "Ars Technica's Ryan Paul previews the upcoming release of the GIMP. It will include a single-window mode where the user can dock toolbar windows and switch between images via tabs. There are other improvements as well, including docking support in multi-window mode and improvements to the text tool." To get this early preview, Paul compiled version 2.7.1 from the active development branch, along with its dependencies.

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Man Fined $1.5 Million For Leaked Mario Game
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "A Queensland man will have to pay Nintendo $1.5 million in damages after illegally copying and uploading one of its recent games to the internet ahead of its release, the gaming giant says. Nintendo said the loss was caused when James Burt made New Super Mario Bros Wii available for illegal download a week ahead of its official Australian release in November of last year. Nintendo applied for and was granted a search order by the Federal Court, forcing Burt to disclose the whereabouts of all his computers, disks and electronic storage devices in November. He was also ordered to allow access, including passwords, to his social networking sites, email accounts and websites."

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The iPad Questions Apple Won't Answer
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's silence-speaks-volumes deptartment:
snydeq writes "Apple's reticence to reveal details prior to a product's launch is legendary. But when Apple extends this silence beyond a product's unveiling, historically this has meant that the product cannot deliver the functionality that analysts and journalists are asking about. InfoWorld's Galen Gruman lists eight key questions for the iPad, about all of which Apple has kept silent. Can you save and transfer documents to the iPad? Does the iPad support Microsoft Exchange email? Does the iPad support VPN? Configuration management? 'I have no doubt the iPad will be compelling to some users. But I now have major concerns that it will fulfill the potential beyond being an iTunes delivery screen that I and other industry observers saw,' Gruman writes."

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Improving Education Through Social Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on February 09 '10 at 01:31 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'd-play-a-number-munchers-mmo deptartment:
A piece up at Mashable explores how some schools and universities are finding success at integrating social gaming into their education curriculum. Various game-related programs are getting assistance these days from sources like the government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."For the less well-to-do educator, the Federation of American Scientists has developed a first-person shooter-inspired cellular biology curriculum. Gamers explore the fully-interactive 3D world of an ill patient and assist the immune system in fighting back a bacterial infection. Dr. Melanie Ann Stegman has been evaluating the educational impacts of the game and is optimistic about her preliminary findings. 'The amount of detail about proteins, chemical signals and gene regulation that these 15-year-olds were devouring was amazing. Their questions were insightful. I felt like I was having a discussion with scientist colleagues,' said Stegman. Perhaps more importantly, the video game excites students about science. Motivating more youngsters to adopt a science-related career track has became a major education initiative of the Obama administration. So desperate to find a solution that motivates students to become scientists, the government has even enlisted Darpa, the Department of Defense’s 'mad scientist' research organization, to figure out a solution."

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Google Reduces Its Nexus One Termination Fee
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's get-out-for-less deptartment:
CWmike writes "The only smartphone Linus Torvalds doesn't hate is that much less unlikable now that Google has quietly chopped $200 off its early termination fee on the Nexus One. Customers who cancel the service had been on the hook for $550, including a $350 Google cancellation charge. Google has reduced their fee to $150 — but users are still liable for a $200 ETF from T-Mobile. Users have a 14-day grace period during which they do not have to pay either charge, although they may be hit with a restocking fee. The $350 total fee matches one of the highest in the industry, charged by Verizon. Google did not announce the change but simply altered its online terms-of-service document." The price cut could add momentum to a phone that, by one reckoning, costs only $49 unlocked.

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Game Development In a Post-Agile World
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's slowly-but-surly deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Many games developers have been pursuing agile development, and we are now beginning to witness the debris and chaos it has caused. While there have been some successes, there have also been many casualties. As the industry at large is moving away from the phantasmagoria of Agile, Gwaredd Mountain, Technical Director at Climax Studios, looks at Post-Agile and what this might mean for the games industry."

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IBM Releases Power7 Processor
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's of-cores deptartment:
Dan Jones writes "As discussed here last year, IBM has made good on its promise to release the Power7 processor (and servers) in the first half of 2010. The Power7 processor adds more cores and improved multithreading capabilities to boost the performance of servers requiring high up-time, according to Big Blue. Power7 chips will run between 3.0GHz and 4.14GHz and will come with four, six, or eight cores. The chips are being made using the 45-nm process technology. New Power7 servers (up to 64 cores for now) are said to deliver twice the performance of older Power6 systems, but are four times more energy efficient. Power7 servers will run AIX and Linux." And reader shmG notes Intel's release of a new Itanium server processor after two years of delays. The Power7 specs would seem to put the new Intel chip in the shade.

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Oracle Drops Sun's Commitment To Accessibility
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 07:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's don't-need-it-until-you-need-it deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "What I feared has come true: after buying Sun, Oracle had a look at its accessibility group and made big cuts in it by firing the most important contributors to the Linux accessibility tools. This is a very sad day for disabled people, as it means we do not really have full-time developers any more." The coverage in OSTATIC has a few more details.

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Virtualizing a Supercomputer
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 05:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's slicing-up-the-pie deptartment:
bridges writes "The V3VEE project has announced the release of version 1.2 of the Palacios virtual machine monitor following the successful testing of Palacios on 4096 nodes of the Sandia Red Storm supercomputer, the 17th-fastest in the world. The added overhead of virtualization is often a show-stopper, but the researchers observed less than 5% overhead for two real, communication-intensive applications running in a virtual machine on Red Storm. Palacios 1.2 supports virtualization of both desktop x86 hardware and Cray XT supercomputers using either AMD SVM or Intel VT hardware virtualization extensions, and is an active open source OS research platform supporting projects at multiple institutions. Palacios is being jointly developed by researchers at Northwestern University, the University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Labs." The ACM's writeup has more details of the work at Sandia.

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Study Says OOXML Unsuitable For Norwegian Government
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '10 at 04:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's party-like-it's-1997 deptartment:
angry tapir writes "Microsoft's XML-based office document format, OOXML, does not meet the requirements for governmental use, according to a new report published by the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI). The agency wants to start a debate over the report as part of its work on standards in the Norwegian government. (As we discussed a week ago, Denmark has already decided to choose ODF over OOXML)"

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