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Valve Announces Steam Controller

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the long-awaited-innovation dept.

Input Devices 317

Today Valve unveiled their third and final announcement about living room gaming: a Steam controller. The company made the determination that existing gamepads simply weren't good enough for bringing PC games to the living room, so they made their own. Instead of having directional pads or thumb sticks, the Steam controller has two circular trackpads. The trackpads are also clickable, and Valve claims they provide much higher fidelity than any previous controller trackpad. Valve also eschewed the traditional 'rumble' feedback mechanism: "The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement." The center of the controller holds a clickable touchscreen. "When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven't thought of yet." The design also breaks up the common diamond-shaped button layout, instead putting the A B X Y buttons at the corners of the touchscreen. The controller is designed to be hackable, and Valve will "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." The controller is being beta tested concurrently with the Steam Machines they announced on Wednesday, so you can expect them to be on sale in 2014.

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317 comments

Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 7 months ago | (#44973327)

Yup... and every time you go to use it, it pauses for a couple minutes while it downloads a new patch, before allowing you to play! "While you wait for your controller to be updated, please look at this webpage with a bunch of vaguely-related advertisements and a PR release by the developer." (-_-) What ever happened to just turning on the console and, you know, playing the game that worked just fine last night when you went to bed? I know, I know... it's a feature...

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#44973373)

As with regular ads, it's only annoying when it's things I don't want immediately as soon as I hear about them. Ads for a new car or a coke? Shove those up your ass. Ads for a controller I wanted as soon as I saw the headline? Not annoying to me.

Anyway, isn't the implication with "slashvertizing" that someone has posted a story to their own product? Pretty sure this was posted out of genuine interest, not financial interest.

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (0, Offtopic)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#44973453)

As with regular ads, it's only annoying when it's things I don't want immediately as soon as I hear about them

Really? You're willing to accept ads in video games?

I'm sure as hell not, and it was that which made be disconnect my XBox from the network in the first place.

I bought the game, I bought the console. I didn't buy it to provide an advertising channel for the idiots who made the console to make even more money off me and tracj my playing habits.

Which is why any gaming console which requires internet access will never make it into my house.

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (2)

IanCal (1243022) | about 7 months ago | (#44973611)

He's replying to the accusation that it's a slashvertisement, and the implication that it's a bad thing.

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 7 months ago | (#44973761)

Ads for a controller I wanted as soon as I saw the headline? Not annoying to me.

Still annoying to me. What is even more annoying is trying to figure out if I want I badly enough to ignore the fact that they advertised it at me.

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (-1, Offtopic)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 7 months ago | (#44974055)

Anyway, isn't the implication with "slashvertizing" that someone has posted a story to their own product? Pretty sure this was posted out of genuine interest, not financial interest.

No, a slashvertisement is a PR release that was green lighted because it was paid for. It may be 'news for nerds', but as it isn't exactly inspiring conversation and discourse beyond "ooh... shiny." it falls into the category of... probably paid for. On the other hand, if it was someone's blog showing a prototype of said controller, and a step by step teardown and some details about how to program it... that would be slashdot material.

Well, at least the old slashdot I used to know and love, before it got into the ice cream, bloated up, and started spending all its time on the couch watching TV.

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (1)

sheehaje (240093) | about 7 months ago | (#44973417)

And a collective sigh from millions of gamers expect the big announcement would be "Half-Life 3"

Although - you know it's coming... and you know it will be a SteamOS exclusive (at least initially)...

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973457)

"Slashvertisement" is a wonderful word.

It's so much shorter than "I am an aggressively dishonest shitheel who refuses to make the simple distinction between advertising and reporting the the fact of a product announcement, and furthermore I am desperate to affect a demeanor of world-weary cynicism that I can never actually attain but have been conditioned to think is cool by the very people I want to think I'm rebelling against".

Re:Today's Slashvertisement brought to you by... (5, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#44973863)

Don't be ridiculous. Slashdot has covered new and interesting product developments since long before you created a SlashID. This falls well into the "News for Nerds" category. I will probably never buy this as I don't even game, yet I read it anyway. Why? Because it is interesting new technology. Period.

This actually looks really unusable (5, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44973335)

I don't mind the trackpads, they could be alright. Maybe. But the fact that they expect you to alternately press buttons with either hand makes me feel like it could be hard to simultaneously move and act in a game.(This must be how lefties feel all the time)

Re:This actually looks really unusable (4, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | about 7 months ago | (#44973475)

I don't mind the trackpads, they could be alright. Maybe. But the fact that they expect you to alternately press buttons with either hand makes me feel like it could be hard to simultaneously move and act in a game.(This must be how lefties feel all the time)

Looking at the controller images, I'd be worried about triggering the touchpad while my hand is traveling to a button. WHy not put the buttons to the side?

The hackable nature of the controller sounds pretty cool, though and the haptic "speaker surface" like touchpads sound like they'd make some very awesome interfaces to play around with.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (2)

cazzazullu (645423) | about 7 months ago | (#44973529)

The trackpad is clickable as well. touching it will bring up the selection screen briefly, but will not actually select something, for that you have to click.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (1)

srollyson (1184197) | about 7 months ago | (#44974067)

I'd be worried about triggering the touchpad while my hand is traveling to a button. WHy not put the buttons to the side?

There was a third-party Xbox controller called the FPS Master [amazon.com] that moved the face buttons to the grips of the controller to be manipulated by your middle and ring fingers. I wish we had seen something like it in the 360/PS3 generation but third-party controller support was largely shut down by the console manufacturers.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (4, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 7 months ago | (#44973497)

If my experience with trackpad controls on phone games is anything to go by, I think it's a very bad idea. Incorporating a trackpad isn't necessarily a bad idea, but I can't stand the 'virtual D-pads' in mobile games. I'm constantly losing my 'center' and my thumbs slip out of the 'zero' position and I'll have to constantly reposition my thumbs back onto the center of the virtual D-pad. I've given up on many games (some of which are console ports) because I just can't stand that style of interface for directional movement.

I hope that I'm wrong, because I don't like how my xbox360 controller behaves on my computer and would love an alternative, but I have really strong reservations about their plan.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973603)

I'm constantly losing my 'center' and my thumbs slip out of the 'zero' position and I'll have to constantly reposition my thumbs back onto the center of the virtual D-pad.

I think that's why the trackpad is a dimple. Not having held it in my hand, there's no way to be sure, but the feedback cues from a thumb that a control stick is centered, i.e. at the top of a virtual spheroid, should probably hold true for an inverted spheroid.

Re: This actually looks really unusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973631)

The feedback cues on the thumbsticks are mostly about the spring force returning it to center, not about the geometry it moves in.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (2)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 7 months ago | (#44973937)

I worry about high stress in video games and losing the whole location.

I can force down on a thumbstick during a car chase in GTA V and not worry about exact position, just push up and my fingers tell me I've reached the edge of motion because the stick stops moving. I don't think this will translate well at all....

Re:This actually looks really unusable (4, Insightful)

Carnivore (103106) | about 7 months ago | (#44973653)

As opposed to the entirely smooth surface of your mobile, it looks like these have concentric ridges to solve just your problem; they give a tactile map of where the center is.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (5, Insightful)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 7 months ago | (#44973679)

If my experience with trackpad controls on phone games is anything to go by, I think it's a very bad idea.

where those phone games, "built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators"?

no? then your experience is invalid.

honestly, i look at it this way. It might work. It might suck. either way, it's just a controller. i already have a system to use it with it. So, pending some horrible hands on reviews, i'll probably just pick one up and see for myself.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973819)

where those phone games, "built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators"?

No and the vast majority of steam games aren't either, nor will they be at anytime in the near future.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (5, Interesting)

Kelbear (870538) | about 7 months ago | (#44973763)

Important difference here is that you have tactile feedback on your thumbs position relative to the center.

Furthermore, since the surface is clickable, it can be customized to only register input upon click-in...like a D-pad! On the right side of the controller, the trackpad 4 quadrants can function as a replacement XYBA. Mappings which are traditionally assigned to clicking a stick in, can be moved to the back of the controller.

I am cautiously optimistic about the design of this controller, it all hinges upon the execution of these ideas and the quality of construction. If nothing else, it would be a better way to play FPS and RTS games since it replaces relative input (i.e stick position relative to cetner), with absolute input (the input starts and stops in sync with the start and stop of the thumb movement).

Instead of constant movement towards a target, and having to time the release of the stick with the time of interception, you move until matched with the target and then stop moving, akin to a mouse input. I have not seen trackpad sensitivity that can sufficiently replace mouse input, but Valve is claiming to have reached unprecedented levels of trackpad precision. Really can't judge the capability of this controller until real-world feedback comes in, but at least conceptually, I can see this being a step-up from the controller input already popularized on Xbox and PS platforms.

ridges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973789)

I thought that too, but take another look at the pads - they have two features your phone screen doesn't.

First, they're concave, so you can 'feel out' the centre with the edge of your finger/thumb. On top of that, there's a pair of ridges running around the pad - the radius of the inner circle seems to match with the margin on the outer circle, which suggests these are there to mark out joystick style 'dead zones' (ie, anything inside the middle circle is 'center', anything outside the outer is 'max').

Tactile feedback is the difference between typing on a touch screen and a keyboard; the former you have to look at the screen, the latter lets you type 'blind'. They seem to have understood this building the controller.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 7 months ago | (#44973527)

Yeah, this design is basically screaming "Please redesign all your games with our controller in mind!" X and Y on the left? If you're lucky you'll be able to remap the controls so shit you never use is on X and Y. Meanwhile the giant right trackpad will be mostly unused except for the few games with camera control on the right stick. Of the games I play with a controller (on both console and PC), right stick is used well by twinstick shooters and poorly by FPSes, and not at all by pretty much every single other game.

The rear buttons also look like they'll be a nightmare for anyone with hands that aren't the right size to grip the controller with the fingertips resting on the button.

I'll stick to my logitech F310.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 7 months ago | (#44973627)

Don't worry, you'll almost certainly be able to use your existing USB joypads with your Steam Machine. I'm glad Valve is trying something new with this controller. It probably will suck, but that's why Steam OS is configurable.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#44973671)

This actually looks really unusable

Actually, it looks like speakers.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (4, Interesting)

Kelbear (870538) | about 7 months ago | (#44973837)

Actually, they can be speakers:

"This haptic capability provides a vital channel of information to the player - delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. It is a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of.

As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers."

Re:This actually looks really unusable (3, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about 7 months ago | (#44973715)

Lefty here. It's actually not so bad. I suspect that this is part of why the traditional layout spaces them similarly to the ends of a D-pad: you righties don't seem to have any trouble using that, and for us lefties, it's a similar story with the buttons.

But I am concerned with this splaying them out over the corners of the center touch screen. It could have some advantages in cases where you're expected to alternate between different buttons, but on the whole I can't see it being all that comfortable.

Re:This actually looks really unusable (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44973813)

See, but the way game controls are actually created, the dpad is for slow, methodical, or long-term tactical functions, and buttons are for "twitch" actions, like throwing a grenade or switching weapons or melee or whatever(note that none of these combine with requirements for precise looking that the right joystick is usually bound to).

Re:This actually looks really unusable (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 7 months ago | (#44974013)

They don't expect you to use both sides. It is symetrical so left handed people can mirror the the controls. It is similer to how the Dualshock face buttons mirror the dpad.

how about a keyboard and a mouse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973345)

better be able to plug a keyboard and a mouse into that thing

Re:how about a keyboard and a mouse... (4, Informative)

twocows (1216842) | about 7 months ago | (#44973439)

They already said you can still use KB+M. I mean, the hardware's going to be running GNU/Linux, after all.

Re:how about a keyboard and a mouse... (3, Insightful)

Molt (116343) | about 7 months ago | (#44973979)

SteamOS is Linux based but I doubt it's going to be anything even Stallman would call GNU/Linux.

Everything I've seen makes this sound like it's more aimed at being a 'Console which runs PC games' than a normal computer. I'd expect it to load into a 'Big Picture' mode Steam client, and allow the user to launch their games and specially-modified applications from that which could well run as overlays like the existing Steam browser. Whether this machine even needs a command line is debatable, it shouldn't need GCC (I'd expect a fully binary-based OS) or a full-featured window and compositing desktop like Gnome.

DRM DRM DRM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973367)

Oh but our hive mind likes the Steam DRM because its cool not owning anything anymore cause its CHEEEEAP! Never mind that used games are cheap too ;)

Re:DRM DRM DRM (1, Troll)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 7 months ago | (#44973541)

I am tired of seeing this obvious truth treated as trolling. It's not trolling. Mod up, please.

Re:DRM DRM DRM (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44973623)

No, I refuse to mod up. It's not trolling, but it lacks a meaningful insight. Steam approaches the DRM question from a different direction by detaching game ownership from physical devices entirely.

When you buy a disk, and have an install limit, or an offline game, with an always online requirement, it turns the thing you think you have into something less valuable, and uses a legal fiction to justify it. Steam gives you a person license that you can use as part of an account independent of the machine on which its installed, with some flexibility regarding internet access and physical media. It's a license that actually acts like a license, you can use it freely, yourself. It treats the underlying legal fiction as actually representative of usage, rather than an excuse to limit you.

Re:DRM DRM DRM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973943)

I think this deserved the mod up. Compare steam's DRM to the music industry's "We didn't sell you a disc we sold you a license!!! Don't you dare copy that song to an mp3 player! We didn't license that song to you, we sold you a disc!!!" monkey dance. There are still problems with it eg stolen accounts and internet connectivity issues, but at least steam isn't schitzo.

don't speak it (1, Troll)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#44973617)

Even though you hid behind posting as an AC and started at zero you will likely be modded down. Too many fanboys here who pay Steam don't like their stupidity pointed out. And no, I'll never buy a Steam DRMed piece of software either. Have used it for some free demos, and had to install it to update a previously purchased DRM free copy of the original Halflife (upgrade now required for on-line play). But I completely agree that Supporting Steam is supporting DRM, and a very unwise thing for a supposedly intelligent on-line community to do.

Re:don't speak it (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#44973917)

I don't play video games, never mind being a Steam fan, and I can wholeheartedly assure you that it got modded down exactly as deserved.

Re:don't speak it (3, Informative)

tb()ne (625102) | about 7 months ago | (#44973949)

It isn't stupidity if they understood the terms of the purchase and preferred it to other options. Those "supposedly intelligent" fanboys probably spent less for Halflife than you did and they can play it on Windows, OS X, or linux.

Re:don't speak it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973981)

Go back to bed stallman.

Can't view it at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973375)

But it sounds almost like a scaled down version of the Wii-U controller, with less buttons. It sounds as though they are doing something like wrapping a reasonable grip around a cell phone, and doing some sort of on-screen controller like you'd see for the SNES or Genesis emulators. In other words, it sounds like they forget one key point of having buttons:

You don't have to look at the controller to make sure you are pressing the correct buttons, your thumb can easily detect the diamond shape and, with a little memorization, know which one is triangle/X/Y, versus cross/A/B.

Re:Can't view it at work... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973455)

I have no idea what I'm talking about but here is my commentary.

Skeptical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973389)

The real issue with mouse vs. thumbstick/trackpad accuracy has little to do with the resolution. It has to do with muscles - you can control your entire hand a heck of a lot better than you can control your thumb.

But then again, some folks can use trackballs just as good as a mouse, so who knows? But, color me skeptical that they can approach the precision of a mouse setup with their track pads.

Re:Skeptical... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#44973491)

I think it's a little of both. The trackpad on my laptop sucks for FPS for that reason, but it's still much preferable to a thumbstick, which is physically hard to tilt halfway reliably.

It's a step up, but yeah, I'll be using the mouse and keyboard for most shooters.

It would be ideal for me is if the steamboxes wirelessly communicated with the controller, and had a USB port in the side so I could plug my mouse into the controller and use it on my couch. That's several ifs though. And judging by the fact that none of the consoles offer mouse attachments, perhaps I'm the only one who would want to use a mouse from the couch to game.

Re:Skeptical... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#44973945)

"But then again, some folks can use trackballs just as good as a mouse"

Actually, a trackball works much better than a mouse as far as I am concerned. I hate using a mouse and can't understand how anyone would do so on purpose when trackballs are readily available.

Half life 3!!! (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#44973407)

I'm not really sure how, but it's been confirmed with this announcement. You have to read it carefully. Specifically, picking certain letters out.

(starts crying)

Re:Half life 3!!! (3, Funny)

twocows (1216842) | about 7 months ago | (#44973511)

September 27, 2013. 9/27/13. 9 = 3*3, 27 = 3*3*3, 13 = 1, 3, and 2013 is divisible by 3. So of course, it's the perfect day to announce the NEW CONTROLLER!

Re:Half life 3!!! (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 7 months ago | (#44973641)

Yes, and 4-11-70 at 13:13 was the perfect time to launch Apollo 13 to snub the nose of all those superstitious numerologists out there.
For those who don't see it 4+1+1+7+0 = 13

What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (1, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about 7 months ago | (#44973423)

What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? PC crowd does not want a console controller, why try to force it?

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (5, Insightful)

Ksevio (865461) | about 7 months ago | (#44973461)

They're not great for sitting on a couch and playing games. I've tried both and it's a lot more comfortable to be holding a controller rather than a long keyboard that needs to be placed on something.

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (2)

poobahtim (1435517) | about 7 months ago | (#44973557)

I agree. I've been a PC-only gamer forever, but this whole Steambox/OS/controller thinger is intriguing. I'd happily build my own Steam box, put the OS on it, and buy a controller to play Portal in my living room.

I do wonder about their target audience with all of this. Will they be able to crack into the market already owned by one of the consoles? Or are they hoping that by luring PC users over to this new model they'll get them to buy more games/hardware. Maybe they're following Amazon's route of just trying to get as many people as possible hooked on the ecosystem...

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973881)

I agree that wireless keyboards suck, you would think they would be perfect for the living room but they have latency issues and tend to have ackwardly placed (tiny) arrow keys. On the other hand, I personally use a wired keyboard going to a USB hub with a single active extension cable connecting it to the HTPC. The wired keyboard mouse combo simply can't be beat for any 1st person shooter. I've gone back and forth between KB+M versus Xbox360 gamepad with Saints Row 3&4 and find the games much easier to play with KB+M. A gamepad is definitely more comfortable for gaming sessions longer than an hour though.

Perhaps I have no problems with KB+M since I sit in a recliner with overstuffed arm rests and have a table to the side for the mouse that is just the right height (using a $15 TV stand from Wal-Mart).

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (1)

dickplaus (2461402) | about 7 months ago | (#44973493)

Do wireless mice and keyboards have any lag compared to wired? I realize a controller will be wireless but I know in the past that some wireless keyboards had lag issues. Of course, I bought shitty cheap ones.

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (2)

guru42101 (851700) | about 7 months ago | (#44973501)

You can use one if you like. But for console (read sitting on the living room couch) a KB/M doesn't work that well. I guess they felt that these trackpad controllers are the happy medium to allow the most flexibility / compatibility. I'd personally probably use a lap desk + KB/M

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973503)

keyboard/mouse is really freaken hard to use from the couch.

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (1)

basecastula (2556196) | about 7 months ago | (#44973605)

Not really. Use a phone book to put the mouse pad on. Works like a charm. Or one of those little tv stand things for people who eat in front of the tube. they work great as a platform for a mouse pad. I used that combination for playing alterIW.net on my big screen. Oh those were the days. So many fun servers.

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44974057)

wtf is a "phone book" ?

Re:What wrong with a wireless keyboard and mouse? (2, Insightful)

Enokcc (1500439) | about 7 months ago | (#44973577)

No problem! You can do that too!

What you have here is more choices.

Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 7 months ago | (#44973427)

Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller?

Its the best design i've come across. Great button configuration.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (5, Informative)

Ksevio (865461) | about 7 months ago | (#44973473)

You can use those too likely. There are plenty of USB controllers in different configurations that can plug into a PC and work with Steam Big Picture at the moment.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (5, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about 7 months ago | (#44973481)

The idea is to try and create an experience that's close to the precision of a keyboard and mouse. No console controller offers this.

I'm actually really happy about this. This is the kind of innovation controllers have been needing for a very long time. I can pretty much guarantee that PS5 and, uh, Xbox Two? will employ controllers with this kind of tech.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (1, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 7 months ago | (#44973583)

Are you kidding me? The Gamecube's controller is the best, and the Xbox's and the Dreamcast's controllers are fine too. Because they put the left analog stick in the right place, unlike the Playstation's godawful piece of shit of a controller.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 months ago | (#44973719)

Because they put the left analog stick in the right place, unlike the Playstation's godawful piece of shit of a controller.

If you do nothing but play first-person shooters. There are a lot of games out there for which an analog stick is unnecessary, and the fact that it sticks so far up off the body of the controller makes it awkward to grip as a primary control mechanism. I much prefer the more flush D-pad of a DualShock controller for the types of games I play.

This new design looks interesting because it'll have the fluid control of an analogue stick without the awkward thumb positioning. While I really don't like placing the X&Y buttons on the left side, I can appreciate the superior compromise between D-pad and stick they offer.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 7 months ago | (#44973737)

The Steambox/SteamOS will basically be Linux with Steam, and I haven't tested this since my laptop doesn't have bluetooth, but I believe Linux already supports the DualShock 3. and the Wiimote, I think. I don't know how good the support is, I don't really use gamepads of any kind on my laptop. But if you like the controllers, I am confident you could use them.

Re:Ugh, cant they use a PS2/PS3 like controller? (2)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 7 months ago | (#44973815)

You can already use those, but the 360 controller is much better. I am willing to try this new steam controller but I probably won't be convinced it is better until I try it myself.

Not a Me Too product (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 7 months ago | (#44974061)

Sony already makes a PS3 controller. No point in them joining the market if they are going to do things exactly like Sony and Microsoft.

Steam Controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973431)

You mean a steam valve?

I can only say one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973459)

... the controller design is awful. Why the fuck would you re-arrange the traditional diamond? If anything it looks to me valve expects games to get even more dumbed down to two button Wii remote kind of gaming.

I still think the snes classic/Wii classic/playstation controllers are the best in the industry. I love my dual shock and Wii classic controllers.

http://www.amazon.com/Wii-Classic-Controller-nintendo/dp/B000IN0BSU/ [amazon.com]

Re:I can only say one thing... (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | about 7 months ago | (#44973625)

It has tons of buttons that don't require moving the hands at all.

I think you're completely wrong.

Re:I can only say one thing... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 7 months ago | (#44973711)

It has tons of buttons that don't require moving the hands at all.

Assuming you only want to press one of them at a time.

That was the REAL achievement of the diamond configuration: the thumb could easily cover two buttons for when you needed to run AND jump.

At least these days you can usually remap them so you can use A and the underside button... assuming your hand wraps around the controller well enough to reach it.

FA contraducts itself (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#44973465)

Do they even know what they are building? There seem to be some claims that the center is a touch screen, but they give no specs or even say if the screen is color or just B&W. However, the exploded view and the only real photo of the device shows the center part as just 4 large buttons, no screen at all. I don't think they know exactly what direction they plan to go with this, and IF anything ever is released it likely will not be this.

Re:FA contraducts itself (1)

evilRhino (638506) | about 7 months ago | (#44973565)

It seems obvious that the picture is a prototype built before the specs on the touch screen were finalized. Everything else on the thing is the same.

Re:FA contraducts itself (1)

cazzazullu (645423) | about 7 months ago | (#44973595)

Please read the entire article. They state explicitly that the 300 beta versions that are gonna be sent out in a month will have 4 buttons instead of a touchscreen. The one that ships in 2014 will have a screen instead. The display on the touchscreen will be overlayed on the TV as well, so you don't have to look at the screen if you don't want to. There is no reason to assume the screen won't be in color, that technology is more than mature.

Re:FA contraducts itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973637)

The annoucement says at the bottom that the 4 button center is the beta controller, not the final release. Also the beta controller isn't wireless.

It's probably a good idea to work out all the ergonomics first before they start jamming in the more expensive gear. Who knows if it will need to be redesigned?

It incorporates some interesting concepts, but... (0)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 7 months ago | (#44973507)

I don't see myself ever really wanting to use this controller.
If I need precise movement (like they say the trackpad will offer), I'd much rather use a mouse.
If I don't need a mouse, and the game has relatively simple controls, then I'd prefer to have a controller which feels nice in the hands and has a bunch of buttons, like the Xbox 360 controller.
So under what situation would I want to play a game with 2 trackpads, a touch screen and only 8 buttons (with some slightly awkward looking positioning)? I honestly can't think of any.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#44973573)

Starcraft 2 would be pretty unplayable without a keyboard and mouse.

Maybe that's why it isn't on Steam.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (3, Insightful)

Georules (655379) | about 7 months ago | (#44973663)

No, sc2 is not on steam because blizzard doesn't need steam as a storefront.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (4, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#44973723)

Stop being factual. I was trying to make a point.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (1)

Molt (116343) | about 7 months ago | (#44974065)

There are enough other games on Steam which do need a keyboard and mouse though, everything from other RTS games such as the C&C and RA series, to the more complex FPS games. Valve may be wanting developers to do things for their Big Screen/Controller setups but there are still plenty of games there where controllers are unusable.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (2)

matt328 (916281) | about 7 months ago | (#44973707)

Touch screen/pad, maybe I can see being kinda cool for use on menu screens, but when you're in action, you need the precision of physical sticks and buttons. When things get intense, I always find myself pressing buttons harder and trying to tilt sticks further than they can move, and that style of play hasn't ever worked well with any kind of touch input.

Touch pads for joysticks just feels too much like the on screen joysticks people pretend are legitimate in mobile games. The issue on touch devices is as I said before, there's always the 'shit shit shit go further/faster/turn sharper' moment when you want to push the virtual joystick further but there is no boundary so your thumb/finger slides all the way off of it and you stop moving altogether. These touch pads do have physical boundaries it seems, but I wonder if they are so precise, what happens when you want to simulate tilting a stick all the way in a certain direction, but where you initially contact the touch pad isn't exactly center, leaving you with that offset as lost range.

I'm also skeptical of the buttons being split on either side of that screen or whatever it is. If you are moving or looking or whatever with your left thumb, the two buttons right next to that touch pad are essentially useless. I don't know it is only 2 buttons, it says there are 16 on the thing so maybe that isn't so big a deal.

I'm with you though on the XBox 360 controller. 2 full joysticks, analog shoulder triggers, even a D-Pad for when you don't want to trust the joystick for explicit up, down, left, or right inputs. It has all the bases covered for a wide variety of games without being overcomplicated.

Re:It incorporates some interesting concepts, but. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44974047)

If you want to use a mouse (even in the living room) use a mouse, want to use a 360 controller, use a 360 controller.
This controller aim to be good enough to replace mouse and keyboard for most games, and be useable on a couch, because most people don't like using a mouse and/or keyboard on a couch..

Looking at the thing. (2, Insightful)

basecastula (2556196) | about 7 months ago | (#44973551)

What exactly are they smoking? Do they think that people are going to LIKE trackpads instead of something more ...useful? Like a button or a stick.

I like what Steam is doing here (5, Insightful)

Bardez (915334) | about 7 months ago | (#44973563)

Intellectually, this fits everything I want about a gaming system/console except for DRM:
  • Moving games to Linux
  • Making a gaming Linux distro of their own, not a requirement
  • Making their own hardware, but not required
  • Making their own controller, not required

I just hope it doesn't flop.

What's the point? (0, Troll)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 7 months ago | (#44973593)

My computer has a perfectly good couple of monitors, why would I want to not use those to game on?

Why would I want to take over the TV so that nobody else in the house can use it to watch TV?

Re:What's the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973741)

I live alone with a 60" LED TV in the living room... it is pretty fun to play games on it.

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 7 months ago | (#44973845)

And what about people like me who don't own a TV and don't buy computer games? They need to scratch this whole design and come up with something that isn't a game console, there no sense in anyone making products that neither of us has a use for. Maybe make a domestic robot?

Innovation, modability (1)

damaki (997243) | about 7 months ago | (#44973647)

It's all about mods and accessories. Imagine the think with multi touch, 4 point on each touchpad. Then you could stick a direction cross over it, or regular buttons, or a plain stick, or whatever you want.
Every single gamepad these years is just plain and unimaginative or has barely usable gimmicks. Even the wiimotes are quite disappointing (laggish, unprecise). Analog buttons (not triggers these are fine) were the worst idea ever. Sixaxis motion detection is totally useless (no I wont tilt it left to turn left, I'd rather keep my wrist in good state). Wii U screen is basically a DS/3D with only one screen?
This, gentlemen, is innovation.

Tradtional joypad games? (2)

Holammer (1217422) | about 7 months ago | (#44973687)

How do I play Street Fighter or any traditional joypad game on that thing? I don't want to dismiss it out of hand, but I have serious doubts.
It might actually be a better joypad for console fps gaming, but unless I see good TF2 YTbers like shibby2142 praising the pad and pulling off rocket jumps while shovelling people with ease... I'll stick to kb+m.

Re:Tradtional joypad games? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 months ago | (#44974001)

How do I play Street Fighter or any traditional joypad game on that thing? I don't want to dismiss it out of hand, but I have serious doubts.

I'm guessing a lot like on the SNES. The right trackpad should be able to detect the position of the finger when clicked, making it capable of simulating the traditional diamond pattern, and the shoulder buttons fulfill their usual role.

All touch devices are unusable (0, Troll)

loufoque (1400831) | about 7 months ago | (#44973733)

This is a terrible mistake. As has been demonstrated with smartphones, touch devices are unusable.
People want sticks and directional pads.

The placement of most of the buttons is also terribly awkward.

Not sure how this is going to work... (2, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about 7 months ago | (#44973755)

Most of the games I've played by controller expect that you'll be using an XBox360 controller, so the game is set up expecting you to have the same types of controls and buttons in the same locations for two-handed operations. Drastically changing what and where everything is will only result in a controller that is unusable for most of the games it was created for.

Re:Not sure how this is going to work... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44974005)

This controller is meant not to replace traditional controllers but the mouse & keyboard.

Think of the games for PC that expect you to be using a mouse and keyboard that you can't comfortably take to the living room.
That's what this controller is for.

Re:Not sure how this is going to work... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44974009)

If the PC game supports an X360 controller, then use an X360 controller.

This is for the 80% of PC games that don't support the X360 controller.

Government and Stealth Malware - Nobody Cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44973765)

Stealthy GPU-based Keylogger

http://cryptome.org/2013/09/gpu-keylogger.pdf [cryptome.org]

++

In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms

How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

Which software would that be?

Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computerâ(TM)s files on the basis of faith alone?

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, donâ(TM)t you?

Iâ(TM)m now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individualâ(TM)s products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or âdeleted/junk postsâ(TM) forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms âtin foil hatâ(TM), âconspiracy nutâ(TM), and my favorite, âwhere is the proof of these infections?â(TM) One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed youâ(TM)re using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, letâ(TM)s move on to Linux.

The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If youâ(TM)re lucky, youâ(TM)ll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they donâ(TM)t call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and Iâ(TM)ve been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

Donâ(TM)t let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. Iâ(TM)m convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the âcuriousâ(TM) malware Iâ(TM)ve come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are âon the takeâ(TM), compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

Search enough, and youâ(TM)ll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some âstrange infectionâ(TM). These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the âstrange infectionâ(TM) posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

If youâ(TM)re persistent, the usual challenge is to, âoeprove it or STFUâ and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and youâ(TM)re lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyoneâ(TM)s BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use â" which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

Many people will say, âoethe only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranetâ but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, itâ(TM)s not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what youâ(TM)re doing, and even then⦠you wonâ(TM)t notice it.

Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, âoethatâ(TM)s just Windows!â and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, Iâ(TM)ve observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesnâ(TM)t exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

[1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

[2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for Chinaâ(TM)s people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldnâ(TM)t notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you donâ(TM)t even know it. As George Carlin railed about âoeOur Ownersâ, âoenobody seems to notice and nobody seems to careâ.

[3] http://www.stallman.org/ [stallman.org]

Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it wonâ(TM)t be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

I believe weâ(TM)re mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and âoenobody seems to notice and nobody seems to careâ.

##

Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

Thereâ(TM)s thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

ENF (google it)

A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

When is the last time you:

Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?

Google for:

* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

Do you:

        Know your routerâ(TM)s firmware may easily be replaced on a hackerâ(TM)s whim?
        Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
        Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
        Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
        Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
        Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
        Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
        Sarch out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
        Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either donâ(TM)t need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.

#

Iâ(TM)m more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

Some have begun with BIOS security:

http://www.biosbits.org/ [biosbits.org]

Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers donâ(TM)t.

#

âoeDisconnect your PC from the internet and donâ(TM)t add anything you didnâ(TM)t create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossibleâ

The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies donâ(TM)t shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.

Google:

cisco router rootkit
cisco routers backdoor
network card rootkits and trojans
pci rootkits
packet radio
xmit âoefm fingerprintingâ software
âoespecific emitter identificationâ
forums(dot)qrz(dot)com

how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, Iâ(TM)ve personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didnâ(TM)t find it all.

Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

#
eof

Reminds me of the Intellivision controller (3, Insightful)

rla3rd (596810) | about 7 months ago | (#44973825)

Brings back distant memories of the Intellivision controller. I hope its an improvement over that godawful thing.
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