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OpenXcom 1.0 Released

ACS Solver Xenonauts also released (50 comments)

A very good time to be an XCom fan.

Another release is that of Xenonauts, to be finally released next week. I think it's a must-have for fans of the classic XCom. Xenonauts is a modernized remake, but it keeps the same fundamental game mechanics (unlike the Firaxis version). Time units, multiple bases, great freedom in soldier inventory and other things from the original, and there's a huge amount of balancing and subtle improvements. I have played several indie and small-studio successors, such as UFO: Aftermath, UFO: Extraterrestrials, and UFO: Alien Invasion, but none of those have, in my opinion, captured the original's feeling, while Xenonauts managed to.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Online, Free Equivalent To a CompSci BS?

ACS Solver MIT (197 comments)

You can learn basically the entire CS curriculum of MIT. This guy did it in 12 months, which is quite extreme, but it shows that the material is all there, and you can of course go through it (or parts of it) at your own pace.

about 7 months ago

New DOOM Game Not Dead: Beta Comes With Wolfenstein Pre-Order

ACS Solver Re:Did you play Doom 3? (108 comments)

Not having anything new in gameplay was the point. Doom 3 was an old-school shooter, you with a huge arsenal of weapons vs. hordes of monstrosities from hell. And that was with amazing graphics. Doom 3 might have had really low resolution textures, but I think the lighting and shadowing remained unrivaled for years.

Though Doom3 did have a minor novelty I wish more games adapted. It had a really nice way of interacting with in-game monitors and computers, and I can't remember if any other games have done the same. Certainly not many, if there are any at all.

about 8 months ago

North Korean Business Park Getting Internet Access

ACS Solver Re:Restrictions will be in place (46 comments)

This is likely correct (I have likewise been somewhat of a NK watcher), but one important point. The general population doesn't have access to the NK intranet. Those that do aren't quite the country's elite, but still represent the better-off social class. Most access to the intranet happens through universities and major organizations, while close to half of NK's population lives outside cities, and in cities other than Pyongyang the infrastructure is nearly non-existent. Sariwon and Wonsan can be barely made out as lights in nighttime photos.

about 8 months ago

Where Does America's Fear Come From?

ACS Solver Re:Two big sources (926 comments)

I think that's a fair assessment of the American situation. But I wouldn't even say guns play much of a role in the situation.

To me it seems to be more of a combination of the very high quality of life that a large number of Americans enjoy, coupled with the fact that they do not remember existential threats. The quality of life is the same issue as anywhere in the world - the more people have, the more they have to lose, so they welcome measures that appear to make losing less likely. But also, US hasn't been really threatened for a long, long time. I think that when people are used to safety, it is natural to overreact to attacks. Where I'm from, older generations will vividly remember bombing raids, middle-aged people grew up under foreign occupation, and there were tanks and firefights in the streets a mere 20 years ago. A lot of Europe is similar. Spain or UK have had to contend with terrorism campaigns for a long time. Most countries took major losses at home in WW2, and numerous countries have had wars or violent revolutions in the decades since that. The lack of such events in living memory really sets the US apart.

about a year ago

"451" Error Will Tell Users When Governments Are Blocking Websites

ACS Solver Old(ish) but brilliant (255 comments)

The idea has been floating around for a while. It's still brilliant in the simplicity and anti-censorship attitude of it. What the article doesn't mention is that its an IETF draft now. Wish the error could be something like "451 Bad Government".

about a year ago

EU To Vote On Suspension of Data Sharing With US

ACS Solver Re:Harmless? (330 comments)

This is not so. I'm from Latvia, one of the newer members of EU and NATO. We need NATO (so do our other two Baltic neighbours). We have a very strained relationship with Russia, and we have a military with essentially no fighting capability - in case of a sudden attack, our main defense we could deploy would be a light infantry force of about 1000 men without armor support.

Sure the total EU defensive capabilities are sufficient, but the EU has no single armed forces, it's 28 independent militaries. And some of us smaller countries only have any defence thanks to NATO.

about a year ago

Latvian Police Raid Teacher's Home for Uploading $4.00 Textbook

ACS Solver Re:Don't copy that floppy! (289 comments)

Latvian citizen here with basic legal knowledge.

There's no EU-wide "fair use" clause for copyright and nothing quite like it in Latvian law. By the way, the law is officially published on in HTML form, a sibling post here links to a doc file at another governmental websites, but while other websites may re-post laws for convenience, it's that is official.

Section 19(1)(2) of the Copyright Law states that there's no copyright violation if copyrighted material is used for educational purposes in accordance with Section 21. That's where it gets hairy as it mentions publishing works or their fragments in educational textbooks, and so on yadda yadda, if they are specifically created and directly used at educational or research institutions for educational or research purposes. The problem here is that "directly used" almost certainly excludes anything like uploading a textbook on a web server.

The situation is interested. Jurs (the teacher) made a web site that he says is intended to let children freely study if they do not have money. It has some texts and it has audio lectures recorded by Jurs himself, as TFA says. The 4$ tag on the particular book surprises me - while indeed the salary levels are much lower in Latvia, it's actually cheaper than some textbooks were when I went to school, and that was a while ago. Checking online a bit, I see the average price could be in the 8-10$ range. But generally it's a known problem in Latvia with textbooks, poorer families are often unable to buy all the books and materials, while school libraries have very few copies, even though they are actually supposed to have enough.

about a year ago

My most frequent OS migration path?

ACS Solver Re:My usual path (413 comments)

The problem is, of course, that it only takes one program that can't be replaced to break the whole process. Like a mathematical conjecture can be disproved with only one counterexample.

Most Windows programs have Linux alternatives. I would even say the Linux alternatives are often superior. But then you have that one program that just doesn't have an alternative and won't otherwise run. I've been in a situation where MS Office was the killer for me, as OpenOffice just didn't work with compatibility (that was some years ago and current versions of Libre Office are far better). Or there might be a particular program made by your university, municipality, bank or someone else that is Windows-only and that you just need to use. As another example, I have an electronic ID obtained through my bank. While I can use it (with some hassle) on Linux, the only possibility to get it for the first time is to use Internet Explorer.

For someone wanting to move to Linux, finding alternative for 99 programs out of 100 isn't usually a problem. But that 1 in a 100 might be a deal breaker.

about a year and a half ago

No "Ungoogleable" In Swedish Lexicon, Thanks to Google

ACS Solver Re:For those Curious (207 comments)

Another curious note - in English, Xerox sort of won. The words photocopier and photocopy are actually used in English now. In Russian, they lost - the verb used in Russian is still "to xerox" and I guess without many even knowing that it's a brand

about a year and a half ago

Where Can You Find an Electric Vehicle Charging Network? Estonia

ACS Solver Re:all of Estonia, huh? (220 comments)

As a Latvian, I have to say I respect what Estonians have done. They've managed to be the leaders or pioneers in certain things like electric vehicles or electronic voting. Nice social stability there and Estonians are generally doing well. Yes, the average income of ~800 EUR doesn't look too good by most Western country standards, but they're doing the best out of all ex-Soviet countries. Already in Eurozone, and fastest growing EU economy. With their small population and little in terms of natural resources, that is impressive.

about a year and a half ago

Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Hundreds Injured

ACS Solver Re:What about the crash site? (409 comments)

The apparent crash site (or maybe one of several, not clear if there were several sizeable fragments) is in a nearby lake, creating a 6 meter hole in ice. Picture at a news site. The site is under control of Russian authorities and a scientific group is due to arrive tomorrow to study the meteorite.

about a year and a half ago

Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Hundreds Injured

ACS Solver Re:On injuries and damage (409 comments)

For all the problems of the Russian government, the emergency services are well-prepared, given the not uncommon occurence of various emergencies. The city has its own glass factory even, and they'd be able to replace most of the windows within a couple of days. Emergency repairs should restore much of the heating quickly, and very importantly, the hospitals are not being overwhelmed - the amount of people who need hospitalization is fairly low. The authorities apparently intend to fix windows today where it's most critical.

Just to be clear, it is of course a serious situation, but by no serious damage I mean there is nothing like a need to evacuate hundreds of people to other cities for medical treatment, there are no deaths fortunately, and there are no buildings that have fully collapsed.

about a year and a half ago

Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Hundreds Injured

ACS Solver On injuries and damage (409 comments)

As of right now, English-language sources seem to be a bit behind on the injury/damage reports.

The current reports from the city government say that 725 people have received medical attention, with 31 being hospitalized. Infrastructural damage amounts to problems in the centralized building heating system, and blown out windows in about 3000 apartment buildings, 34 hospitals and clinics, and 361 schools/daycares. I should note that, this being Russia, blown out windows are a serious matter because they render the buildings cold, especially coupled with heating system problems. Gas supply has been turned off in parts of the city as a precaution.

Overall, though, there appears to be no serious damage - though emergency repairs and lots of new windows are needed.

about a year and a half ago

Pope To Resign Citing Advanced Age

ACS Solver Re:Why is this on slashdot? (542 comments)

Other than letting people complain about religion, it's a leadership change in the world's largest church that encompasses about a billion people, and the particular office of the Pope has existed for about a thousand years.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Do Most Programmers Understand the English Language?

ACS Solver Re:Good ones do (330 comments)

I also subscribe to this view. A decent understanding of English should be considered as much a requirement for a programmer as the ability to write a string reversing function. At times I get into arguments with Russian programmers on the subject, some of them believe English should not be required or considered the de-facto standard.

Best as I can tell, it's safe to assume programmers will know English if their own language is relatively small. My native language is small, has a few introductory-level programming books and "Windows for dummies" style books, but not a single comprehensive programming book or a must-read computer science book is available in it. And some very small programming-related forums. Certainly nothing like Stackoverflow.

On the other hand, larger languages have almost everything available. I have Russian-language copies of classics like Stroustrup's C++ book, Tanenbaum's OS book, and a whole bunch of books on things from databases to assembly. There's a Slashdot-like site in Russian, and lots of original content worth reading. As such, a Russian-speaking programmer may be under the impression that English is not necessary for the job, and it would indeed be possible to learn a lot without English.

about a year and a half ago

Deloitte: Use a Longer Password In 2013. Seriously.

ACS Solver Re:I Got It! (538 comments)

And that can also give you words that are hard to remember. Randomly select a few 3-7 letter words from the dictionary:

$ grep -E '^[a-z]{3,7}$' /usr/share/dict/american-english | perl -n -e 'print if (rand() < 0.0001)'

I get:

deposed enured ibis ironies locates

Now I'm not a native speaker but I consider my English vocabulary to be at least as extensive as the average native speaker's. I remember 'ibis' with some difficulty because of the Egyptian hieroglyph, and I had to look up 'enured' - still not sure if I had ever seen the word before.
Does IbisLocatesDeposedEnuredIronies make for a good passphrase? It's strange enough to be memorable while at the same time weird enough to be able to forget part of it.

about a year and a half ago

LibreOffice 4 Released

ACS Solver Re:"migrating German code comments to English" (249 comments)

Because languages work differently and, inevitably, a language's features allow for methods of expression not found in languages lacking these features.

I agree word gender is arbitrary for most non-living things, and in German the genders can give me nightmares. But most Indo-European languages have gender and I can't really say that English is better off not having it (though it sure is simpler).

Then again, English is a pretty strange Indo-European language. It has a lot of complexity where it doesn't really add anything, like the plethora of irregular verbs, or the many words that end with the letter e for historical reasons, despite it not being pronounced for centuries. And in other areas, the simpler rules of English come at the cost of expressive ability. Almost non-existent verb conjugation makes things simple, but it also requires 3 words to say "we will run" as opposed to a heavily conjugated verb like "correremos".

about a year and a half ago


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