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Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

Brulath Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (139 comments)

Most of the complaints about pricing in Australia are around digital products, where there are apparently no protections outside the ability to return it if it doesn't work. That can't justify the 50-100% price increase on digital goods. You're correct that the increased price of things like e.g. Apple products is most likely due to them having to provide actual service without you paying extra, but that isn't what a lot of us are complaining about. A few years ago it was cheaper to take a flight to America and buy Adobe software then fly back than it was to buy it in Australia, despite gaining zero additional protections for it outside of a return if it doesn't work (which is fairly unlikely, depending on your definition of "doesn't work").

about three weeks ago

Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

Brulath Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (139 comments)

It's pretty straight forward, if it breaks within the expected tolerances and lifetime that the average consumer would expect, and is critical to the operation of the device, they must repair, replace, or refund it. If it's a major fault that would've prevented its purchase in the first place, they must refund. If it costs over either $10,000 or $40,000 (I don't recall which off-hand, as it's rarely relevant) then it falls under different warranties, but anything under those is protected.

It basically says "buyer beware" is bullshit and sellers are responsible for providing quality products, not misleading people into buying crappy ones. Though you can still provide crappy products that work just well enough to not be considered broken - they're usable, at least.

about three weeks ago

The Evolution of Diet

Brulath Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (281 comments)

The foods our ancestors consumed don't really exist anymore. No, really, that broccoli you're eating didn't exist back in their times, and the ancestor of the broccoli plant that they ate bears little resemblance to the vegetable today. They didn't eat fatty cuts of meat, they ate super-lean meat when they could catch it. They didn't eat onion and garlic fried in olive (or coconut) oil. If they found carrots, they weren't anywhere near as large, sweet, or nutrient-rich as the ones you buy in a supermarket. Here's an archaeologist talking about it.

So given that we can't eat the diet our ancestors consumed, why discount an enormous range of foods that we have created because some others we have created (through very selective breeding) evoke some "natural" ideal? It's not difficult to argue that eating excessive quantities of deep-fried starchy food is bad for you, but that's not cause to throw out grainy breads as well. You can try arguing that coconut oil is good for you, but there isn't enough research on the subject available to conclusively decide one way or the other yet - or we would've decided already.

The argument that you can eat "what we evolved to eat" is an appeal to nature, essentially. It's not possible to eat what we ate 150,000 years ago without putting a lot of effort into finding some really crappy meals. Paleo is a fad diet which may not be harmful, but its rules are as arbitrary as any others.

about three weeks ago

Windows 8.1 Update Crippling PCs With BSOD, Microsoft Suggests You Roll Back

Brulath It's pretty hard to roll back automated updates (304 comments)

I hadn't realised it was an update which caused the error, so when I finally resorted to system restore it just auto-updated immediately and broke again. At which point a second System Restore decided it would fail to modify a file and thus refused to work. Four hours later, I had to format to get Windows back.

One thing I learned: Disable fast boot, if it's enabled, on your Windows machine (powercfg -h off will disable hibernation entirely). Apparently a Ubuntu boot dvd cannot mount an NTFS partition with write enabled if a hiberfile.sys is present (apparently windows leaves its mounts active and stored in said file, so modifying the file system would cause problems). You can mount it as read-only and get your data, but if you run into a problem that could be fixed by modifying or deleting files then you're out of luck if fast boot is enabled and the action required cannot be performed from the windows boot environment (you can't disable fast boot from it, the required services aren't loaded).

Your startup time will be a little slower, but you might just save that time if something ever goes wrong with your Windows install and system restore fails.

about a month ago

Valve Discloses Source 2 Engine In Recent DOTA 2 Update

Brulath Re:About bloody time (97 comments)

All it has is reasonably decent physics and facial animation. (the former being very hacky at best. you can destroy the game so easily by doing even simple things, like giving something 0 weight, cool impossible division bro)

Branching on the scenario of an object having zero mass in a physics simulation would be a waste, surely? The probability of someone wanting to create something in a physics simulation for a game with a mass of zero is pretty low. Workaround with similar impact is to give it a mass of 1 and call it a day. That's not a problem a player would ever encounter nor most developers, seems like a pretty weak example.

Even the modding wasn't that good. Most of them were poor quality and the only really good ones either never came out, came out after all the hype died down, or got abandoned in a buggy state. Damn shame. So many good mods got left to rot from this supposed "godsend" to modders. (hey, at least it isn't UDK2, holy shit that UI, how could they have lived with such an obtuse and inflexible UI?!) I think Black Mesa is about the only really thing that kept the dream alive.

Mods have came out and hit it big, like Gary's Mod, and others have failed. That's not an indictment of the engine, but of the teams doing the modding that couldn't meet their ambitions. Sure, the engine definitely doesn't make it easy for them compared to e.g. Unity3D, but it's a decade old now; I don't think judging the engine based on what random people are doing with it today, whilst using the past tense, is fair. Valve have made some awesome games with it, so it can be done.

about a month ago

Inside the Facebook Algorithm Most Users Don't Even Know Exists

Brulath Re:Because (130 comments)

You can, but it isn't the default and I'd wager that most users don't know the option exists. So they have to implement filtered news feeds to deal with the users that like everything / friend everyone.

about a month and a half ago

Inside the Facebook Algorithm Most Users Don't Even Know Exists

Brulath Re:Bubbles (130 comments)

Which, if you're eating with someone else, tends to prevent any kind of conversation. Conversation at dinner is good; it causes you to eat more slowly and it makes you a bit more aware that you're eating, as opposed to being engrossed in the television and mowing through dinner. Both of those help limit food intake, and conversation helps promote a bit of family interaction that might otherwise be lacking.

That and you don't have to think about the latest Paris Hilton replacement because you hear about it every night.

about a month and a half ago

How Google Handles 'Right To Be Forgotten' Requests

Brulath Re:Try to make me forget. (135 comments)

The Streisand Effect is quite overrated; I have serious doubts that even one percent of cases would actually invoke it, and suspect the fraction is even smaller than that. Same goes for 4chan and, actually, the news media in general; they find a couple of things and blow those up into huge scandals using creative storytelling, and let the rest slip past.

The Streisand Effect and 4chan are risks, but they're so unpredictable that it's probably not worth considering them as much of a factor in your decision to try and hide information.

about a month and a half ago

New York Judge OKs Warrant To Search Entire Gmail Account

Brulath Re:Warrants are supposed to be narrow (150 comments)

The New York court, in contrast, granted on June 11 a warrant that permitted law enforcement to obtain emails and other information from a Gmail account, including the address book and draft mails, and to permit a search of the emails for certain specific categories of evidence.

They only have permission to search for certain specific categories of evidence, despite having the entire archive, so they wouldn't be able to find them guilty of some minor illegal activity unless it was part of the specific categories the judge authorised.

Have you ever tried to find something in your email account that you know is there but couldn't locate it using any search terms that came to mind, only to find it later along with something completely unrelated? How hard do you think it would be to describe to a Google employee the type of information you want them to search for in (likely) thousands of emails and get a perfect success rate (assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that that's the only satisfactory outcome)?

Responding to the opinion by the District of Columbia court that gave the government the option of getting the email host to search the emails, Judge Gorenstein wrote that Google employees would not be able to arrive at the significance of particular emails without having been trained in the substance of the investigation.

"While an agent steeped in the investigation could recognize the significance of particular language in emails, an employee of the email host would be incapable of doing so," he wrote.

It seems to be the same thing, to me. So we have limitations to the type of evidence that may be acquired, and the ability to find that evidence using people with intimate knowledge of the case (as opposed to a corporation's employee).

I don't get the fuss, it's not like you have some right to hide suspected (they got a warrant) illegal activities just because they're recorded in an email archive stored somewhere other than your computer's hard drive. The only problem I have with it could be described as a slippery slope fallacy; that is, maybe the rules will become more relaxed over time as more judges build on this case. But that's somewhat pointless speculation at this point; this judge seems to be quite sane.

about 2 months ago

What Happens When Gaming Auteurs Try To Go It Alone?

Brulath Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (86 comments)

It's mostly the exclusive pre-order content, I assume, that causes them to want to pre-order a game they think they'll like so they don't miss out on whatever bonus it is. At least, that's probably the only reason I can think of for pre-ordering a console game.

about 2 months ago

Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

Brulath Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (178 comments)

The problem there, then, is that research papers which analyse a failure aren't accepted often enough, which probably leads to other people redundantly repeating the same fruitless efforts. Failures aren't as flashy, but they're surely still useful.

about 2 months ago

Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day

Brulath Re:Seems excessive... (86 comments)

It might be fun for them to show off their ability at playing the game after the fact, but that doesn't change the reality of testing not living up to the dream job standard when you're actually doing the work part. It's not the worst job available, but it's not "dream job" material in the overwhelming majority of cases (though it might be a stepping stone to a dream job, sometimes).

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

Brulath Re:mess around in unity3d (254 comments)

Not every game needs to be super CPU-intensive though; Hearthstone is created in Unity3D, for example, and that works super well on everything but an iPad2. Skipping C++ initially and learning to create a game in Unity3D with C# is probably a wise choice for a bunch of people, at least for prototyping and for a wide variety of games that aren't CPU-limited.

about 3 months ago

Starbucks Offers Workers 2 Years of Free College

Brulath Re:BSES (169 comments)

Aren't most coffee machines in fast-food outlets fully automated these days? As in, select the type and it'll produce the coffee for you, at the correct temperature, without burning? You'd pretty much always get a consistent result given the same inputs. That wouldn't stop it from being consistently bad, though, if the beans weren't very good or the milk was skillfully burned.

about 3 months ago

"Eskimo Diet" Lacks Support For Better Cardiovascular Health

Brulath Re:Fad diets based on new "science" (166 comments)

The TEDxOU talk Debunking the Paleo Diet is pretty interesting from the standpoint of determining what our ancestors actually consumed, though it doesn't prove anything on whether the actual "Paleo Diet" rules are good or bad. It's given by an archaeological scientist who studies ancient health/diet. She points out a few examples of foods which didn't exist when our ancestors were around that are commonly included in the Paleo Diet, which is interesting.

about 3 months ago

Amaya Gaming Buys PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker For $4.9 Billion

Brulath Re:This ban on gambling, porn, etc (52 comments)

As far as problem gambling goes...

The most common argument I read about this and related topics is "let them fail", which does appear to be a good idea on the surface – they'll learn a lesson and be able to move on. The problem is that, at least in this case, the result of allowing them to learn for themselves is financial ruin, and then you are obligated to help them recover through various government-funded programs (as allowing them to starve / etc. would be morally dubious to say the least).

In cases where the failure leads to a burden on other people you can fairly easily make the argument that something representing those people (i.e. the government) should intervene and prevent that burden from eventuating, where possible. In this case it involves erecting barriers to gambling that make it more difficult to lose excessive quantities of money; by applying limits to withdrawals from bank accounts within casino-type areas, requiring people to enter licensed areas to gamble, and through other measures, we can reduce the likelihood that someone will lose enough money that we have to solve their problem.

If you or I are going to end up paying for allowing someone else to make their own mistakes – mistakes which could be avoided with less of our money – then I'm all for using strategies to avoid it, with the appropriate cautions and caveats.

about 3 months ago

Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Brulath Re:Minimum wages create unemployment (1040 comments)

In the process eliminating most of the time they could be spending training or looking for work, thus causing them to remain on unemployment for a long time and not solving the problem at all. At least, that's the plan by the new conservative government; the previous government didn't require the 'voluntary' work which meant more time for job hunting and training. Sure, some people abuse it, but what else is new.

about 3 months ago

My Neighbor Totoro In Virtual Reality

Brulath Phase One (45 comments)

So it seems the Rift movies are in phase one still, where they experiment with replicating 2D movies in a 3D environment, and the result is about as boring as you'd expect. A bit like movie -> game (or vice-versa) conversions, you've really got to transform the work to fit the medium copying the scene verbatim with directionless self-insertion into the scene is pretty dull.

Based on my few minutes of thinking about it, I'm inclined to believe that the only way Rift "movies" will work is either as games or as replications of a play, where the user is stationary but can look around a scene in front of them from their vantage point. If you can't control at least part of the user's vision you're going to have a difficult time making a good movie – they could be looking in completely the wrong direction when something interesting happens, even with audio cues indicating where to look. A play allows the audience member to look around, but only in one major direction, which seems like it would fit the Rift pretty well. I guess this could include virtual concerts too; might even be able to do them in real-time with a good camera setup.

about 3 months ago

In First American TV Interview, Snowden Talks Accountability and Patriotism

Brulath Re:How does one determine the difference... (389 comments)

I've thought about this point a bit when others have mentioned it on slashdot – the idea that a government should hold nothing beyond easy public access unless it presents a true danger to the people, as defined by the people. It's a great ideal, but I don't think it'd survive the news media in any country; the 24/7 news vultures would shred any political who enacted such legislation to bits. No matter how well-intentioned your actions are, someone will spin it into doom to sell ads.

It's not entirely the media's fault – a lot of things that happen behind closed doors really shouldn't occur at all – but there's little point in denying that it'd be political suicide. If you've gone to the effort of getting elected, why would you want to nearly guarantee your opponents get the next election for free? First thing they'd do is reverse your openness policy, and we'd be back at square one. A good example of this happened in Australia recently; the prior political party openly reported on the attempts of refugees to enter the country without prior authorisation, and their opposition shredded them over some invented crisis. First thing they did when they got elected? Suppressed all information related to refugee entry attempts.

The ideal is a good one, but it requires mass education and critical thinking that currently doesn't exist in any country I've heard of.

about 4 months ago


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