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Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software

Dixie_Flatline Re:When you're right, you're right. (133 comments)

I think the market will end up bifurcated.

For my part, I try to avoid products that are priced free. I've looked at a lot of mobile software, and so much of it that's free is low quality or has a punitive pricing model. Free games with pay-to-play mechanics, for instance, tend to be designed so heavily around monetizing the fun parts of the game that the game isn't fun no matter what you do. These fundamental decisions corrupt the process. By trying to keep fun behind a wall, even the fun parts aren't as good anymore.

It's a bit better with productivity software and the like, but I prefer payment models that unlock all the features at once, rather than one feature at a time. One-at-a-time apps necessarily remove the interaction and synergy between features. Instead of making a set of features that seamlessly works together, you get a bunch of individual features that are less powerful split apart. Again, design decisions end up being made that undermine the making of a good product.

So I'll be paying for software. As a software developer (video games) myself, I feel that we deserve to be paid for our best work, and we can't do our best work while begging for scraps. You can't make the big, great games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age or Far Cry by monetising through small transactions. The $50-$70 you pay up front is for a whole piece of coherent work that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

Dixie_Flatline Re:Oh no (297 comments)

Sure, but what you're asking is nearly impossible to measure. You'd have to test your poop for each food that you eat. It's not going to be the same for each sort of food exactly because your gut digests different things differently. It's irrelevant because it's impossible to know. If you eat a carrot and excrete 50% of the usable calories, it doesn't mean that the same will hold true for a potato or a porkchop. You can't even really average it out because different foods are going to affect your gut differently.

If you know the UPPER bound of the caloric energy of the food you eat--that is, the calories listed on the box, or the calories calculated from a bomb calorimeter--you can start making calculations from there. You can make good estimates of how much you eat using a scale and the internet. You can make good estimates of how much you burn using a whole bunch of different devices. The empirical, day-to-day measurement is what's going to tell you how you're doing.

For several years, I weighed my food and tracked my exercise for about 3 months in the spring so I could lose weight for the cycling season. I weighed literally everything I ate and kept detailed logs of my exercise. The balance equations were more or less what I expected.

All these things change over time as well. As we get older our metabolisms slow. On a more narrow scale, the more we do one sport, the less energy we burn doing it. I use fewer calories going 50km on my bike than I did when I was a beginner.

In the end, the one quantity that's actually measurable is the food that goes in. All the other things are observations that either validate or refute your hypotheses about your calories-in/calories-out equation. Whether you happen to burn more calories standing still than I do or you simply excrete more usable calories as waste as I do is a meaningless distinction for the question of weight change.

about a month ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

Dixie_Flatline Re:Ya...Right (285 comments)

China is already the world's largest producer of renewable energy. (378 GW in 2013.)

And unlike Western nations that govern by consensus, China will turn on a dime if it sees the benefit on it. They shut down the factories and took half the cars off the road so the air would be clear for the Olympics. They can do that any time they want.

The benefit to China is cheap power and complete energy independence. The price of renewable energy is dropping sharply, so they no longer have to turn to coal and oil to fuel economic growth. They're the ones making the solar panels ANYWAY.

I suspect China could meet these goals a lot sooner, honestly. I reckon they were on pace to meet these goals with or without the USA. This is just a way to wring concessions out of the US later. China just wants LEVERAGE.

about a month ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

Dixie_Flatline Re:Oh no (297 comments)

It IS about willpower and it IS up to the individual, but I don't think those things are undeserving of sympathy and broader societal support. We make it hard for overweight people to change their diets. Fattening, unhealthy food is cheap. Good food is more expensive. Exercising takes time, we increasingly make sure that people don't have any time outside their jobs. Our jobs are more sedentary than ever before and the bad food is targeted directly at making our brains feel good. Depression goes untreated for years at a time.

The problem is less about food and thermodynamics and our guts. If you want to lose weight, you have to obey thermodynamics. You have to eat less than you burn, and you need to exercise to be healthy. But if we don't give people the opportunity to do those things, then we can't expect them to lose weight consistently.

about a month ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

Dixie_Flatline Re:Oh no (297 comments)

To a certain extent, that's meaningless. Those calories are bound up in a way that you can't use them--which is why they're waste). It may be that there are some usable calories in there if you went back and ingested them again, but obviously there are significantly diminishing returns.

There are a certain number of calories per gram of food. Your body is capable of removing and using somewhere between 0-100% of those calories. Your gut flora pushes you in one direction or another--at the highest end, you can capture nearly 100% of the available food energy from your meals. No matter what, you cannot gain more than 1g of weight from 1g of food. Physics and chemistry being what it is, you probably won't, though.

In the end, there are two things that people need to know if they want to control their weight: how much they're eating, and how much they're burning. Those are the only things you can meaningfully control (there is some evidence that changing your diet significantly can affect the microbiome--it seems pretty imprecise right now). If your gut microbiome is super efficient, you'll need to find ways to eat that don't leave you hungry but also don't give you too many calories.

about a month ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

Dixie_Flatline Re:CO2 mining (695 comments)

Laws? And enforcement?

Man, we do all sorts of things like this all the time. And just because it's hard to do doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.

about a month and a half ago
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BitTorrent Performance Test: Sync Is Faster Than Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox

Dixie_Flatline Re:Am I missing the point? (124 comments)

Wait, why didn't you include this section?

"Yet it’s worth noting that Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox still performed worse. They were limited by the same download bandwidth, but the upload section of the process was notably much slower (many ISPs worldwide offer much slower upload speeds than download speeds)."

So VB's test still gives the prize to sync. It's a bit weird that they didn't publish any times, though.

Anyway, I'm not saying Sync is obviously better, but your quote misses context that's important. I think this is just another tool in the toolbox.

about 2 months ago
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GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today

Dixie_Flatline Re:Still no decent source browser integration (156 comments)

Oh, thanks for the tip. I'm using ECB...sort of. I'm mostly just using helm to search through all my files and trying to force semantic to parse through my humongous project and not screw up the class referencing. :/

Projectile looks interesting--I'll give it a shot. Any other stuff you like? :)

about 2 months ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Dixie_Flatline Re:Fantasy based laws. (475 comments)

Even if the person is never weaned off the images, as long as they never offend against a real person, I'd consider that a win.

Every once in a while a story comes up about a doctor that says that these people should be protected if they come out to a medical professional so they can get treatment, and inevitably in the comments, people scream about locking them up and punishing them right away, even if they've never done anything wrong. As a consequence, these people DO go on to offend because they can't get help, and two lives are ruined in the process. I never understand why, if we're interested in harm prevention and reduction, that they'd allow even one innocent child to be hurt when that could be prevented with significantly more humane laws.

(Actually, from what I understand, that IS how it works in Canada--you can ask for treatment and get it--and I hear there are good results here. I don't know the comparative statistics, though.)

about 2 months ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Dixie_Flatline Re: Moral Imperialism (475 comments)

Don't forget Australia's law where if the person looks young, it counts as CP. It effectively puts a ban on taking pictures of women with small breasts (if they're in their 20s or otherwise look young). http://theweek.com/article/ind...

What this means is that it would be illegal to take pictures of a young-ish looking 24 year old with A-cups, but perfectly legal to have sex with her 16-year-old sister as long as you didn't take pictures of it.

Remember, laws always exactly reflect what is moral. If it's not illegal, it's not immoral!

about 2 months ago
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OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:First taste of Mac OS X (305 comments)

I prefer the OS X method of window/application switching. But more to the point, I think expose is a better method than the alt-tab method, straight up. You can do it for all windows or just the application you're in. I've always found it faster. It's something I miss when I'm on other systems. (I've tried the Windows versions, but I've yet to find one that's nearly as good.)

about 2 months ago
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OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:First taste of Mac OS X (305 comments)

You may want to look into uBar (ubarapp.com)--I've heard good things about it. I'm considering it myself, though I've never had problems with the dock.

Different systems have different control paradigms. The fact that things don't work the way you expect doesn't mean they're bad, just that they're different.

For instance, cycling through open applications makes a lot more sense to me. I really like that I can raise a single window without bringing the entire application to the front. This is something that consistently infuriates me in Windows with certain applications. I also like that an inactive window that you have your cursor in will still respond to the scroll wheel. (I know that's something that works in most XWindows window managers, but it doesn't in my Windows work environment.)

Anyway, a lot of the functionality can be hidden, but that's why Macs are popular among us that are buying computers for other people. Most of what you want is available in some form or another. You may have to learn some new tricks, just as I'd have to relearn a bunch of tricks if I went back to Linux or OpenBSD. Context switches are never free.

about 2 months ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Dixie_Flatline Re:Inequality isn't harmful (839 comments)

Yeah, you're right. I was distracted and I didn't complete my thought.

It basically boils down to this: large accumulations of wealth are effectively outside of the economy, and inheritors of wealth wield outsized influence with respect to the contributions they've made to society.

These massive disparities in wealth would be fine if there were reason to believe that we really are all equal under the law, but I've seen more evidence against that than for it. The Waltons are effectively a new form of landed gentry, contributing little, but manipulating the system to be favourable to them and to keep other people from displacing them. We can see that money effectively creates a new tier of citizen that exists beyond the normal confines of the legal system--not only can they pay for legislation favourable to them, the super-rich generally get lighter sentences than everyone else, and can afford to buy better lawyers to begin with.

about 2 months ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Dixie_Flatline Re:Inequality isn't harmful (839 comments)

Inequality is harmful when it persists without merit.

That is, the Walton family has made a lot of money from Wal-Mart, but the wealth of the youngest Waltons isn't money that they earned, it's money that came to them because of how they were born.

Sounds like a landed gentry, to me. I have zero problems with Warren Buffet being rich, but it seems unreasonable that his children would also be multi-multi-billionaires just because he made a lot of good decisions. And Buffet agrees with me, since he's giving away most of his money and leaving his children with a lot, but not much in comparison to the total value of his fortune.

The vastly wealthy horde money over generations, and the fact is that money begets money. If you have a million dollars and invest it in something that returns 7% a year, you can live off of that forever if you're careful. You don't have to work or do anything at all--money and markets do all the work for you. If you're a multi-millionaire, you've made some money by your efforts but far more because after you have a lot, the rest is easier to come by.

about 2 months ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Dixie_Flatline Re:On one hand... (571 comments)

I dunno, it might make up for all the things they've used to kill people over the years. If they can make more money producing reactors than selling missiles that blow up people that have oil that we're fighting over, they'll save more people than they ever killed. Available fusion power suddenly makes all sorts of other problems moot because it suddenly doesn't matter how energetically expensive the process is, we'll just throw more reactors at it, and that solves a lot of resource issues in the world.

about 2 months ago
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Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

Dixie_Flatline Re:Cell (338 comments)

Probably. But that's a big trade-off to make in this era of ever-increasing graphical demands. We're talking about a game that's running at 900p and people aren't happy that it isn't 1080p. If you offload AI tasks to a GPU, those are cycles that you're not getting back for rendering later.

Additionally, it's much too early in the generation for anyone to have any decent libraries that could do such a thing, even if they were willing to make a much simpler game graphically in exchange for something more complicated gameplay/AI-wise.

From a gameplay standpoint, good AI is almost entirely smoke and mirrors. There's no meaningful difference from an agent being smart because they're calculating a lot of different options and picking the best one, and me programming an agent to do something that LOOKS smart. When they worked on the AI for the original Halo, the little grunt guys would throw themselves on grenades so that only one of them would die instead of the whole group. Playtesting revealed that players thought that was stupid (why would he kill himself? That's dumb!) even though that's actually a fairly clever thing to do. In the end, I believe they just upped the HP of everything--that had the most positive effect on the perception of AI. Just taking longer to die was interpreted as something being 'smarter'.

about 2 months ago
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Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

Dixie_Flatline Re:Cell (338 comments)

Vacation, probably. I'm sure he earned enough in the last few years to take it easy for a while. :)

about 2 months ago
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Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

Dixie_Flatline Re:Cell (338 comments)

Well, like I said, I won't comment on that game. I didn't work on it, and I don't know what problems they were trying to solve. I don't like speaking for other people, and I've never had any contact with them.

about 2 months ago
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Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

Dixie_Flatline Re:Cell (338 comments)

Disclaimer: I work for Ubisoft. I did not work on the game in question and I won't comment on it.

Now, the PS3. I have a friend that's made a very good living for the last few years doing nothing but PS3 optimisation. He'd go in 3 days a week and make more than I would in a year. The PS3 setup was fiendishly complicated and difficult to wring real performance out of. Even by the end of the cycle, I'd say there were only a few games that significantly made use of the potential power that was available in the PS3. On paper, it was impressive. In practice, it was a mild nightmare. You had completely different tools than when you were making a 360 game. The compiler was different. You had to be a lot more meticulous about where data was and how you were moving it around.

I worked on the PS4 earlier this year, and it's dead easy to use. The tools integrate well into the environment, and you don't have nearly the same optimisation headaches that you did on the PS3. It's trivially faster than the XBone, and there's virtually no platform specific code (except for the obvious stuff, like connecting to the respective online services, etc.)

From a developer perspective, the PS4 is a lot nicer than the PS3. That'll mean more simultaneous releases on the PS4 and XBone, and this time there's no delay before the PS4 is at or past parity with its competition (which is more important for Sony and Sony fans, really).

That's just my opinion on the matter, but Sony really listened to the developer community when it came to tools and ease of use. It may be less interesting, but interesting generally means 'troublesome', not 'exciting' when you're writing software.

about 2 months ago

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