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Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk

Dutch Gun Spider silk - amazing stuff (39 comments)

Spider silk is amazing stuff. Stronger than steel, tougher than kevlar, highly elastic, strong or light, sticky or dry as the need arises, instantly manufactured on demand, and even recyclable (some spiders eat their own webs to recycle the valuable proteins). An orb weaver typically has enough raw material in it's body to create three complete webs.

I recently saw a researcher demonstrating the property of a spitting spider's webs. The spitting spider, as it's name implies, actually spits a spray of sticky web at it's victim with silk-jets that vibrate back and forth at an astounding speed to create a wide spray pattern. As the web silk dries, it contracts as well, helping to bind the victim in a silk spray straightjacket.

8 hours ago
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One In Five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

Dutch Gun Re:Reasons why I don't like the Internet of Things (222 comments)

I agree to some extent. The cellphone is the critical part, but the rest of it is definitely a nice bonus. I bought my first smartphone also rather late in the game, a little over two years ago, because my $20 flip phone finally died.

Look at the benefits a powerful mobile computer gives you. It's a built-in navigation computer. You can actually research and look up who you want to call, say, if your car breaks down (better than simply dialing information). If your internet at home goes down, you can navigate to your ISP's website and get tech help numbers (this happened to me). And of course, it's a great entertainment platform - I can watch videos, read a book, or play a game anytime I'm forced to wait around. For many people, their phone can probably now replace even their home PC.

Having a smartphone doesn't turn you into an asshole. There were plenty of those that existed long before those devices were invented. If they're not interested in engaging humanity around them, I probably didn't want to talk with them in the first place. I actually don't use my phone a whole lot, but I love the additional security and functionality it gives me when I can make use of it.

11 hours ago
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One In Five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

Dutch Gun Re:Reasons why I don't like the Internet of Things (222 comments)

Yep, pretty crazy to refuse to leave home without a device that could quickly summon lifesaving personnel in case of an accident, right? Or a tow truck in case of a breakdown. Or a map to help you find your way. Or entertainment in case you're stuck waiting for a half hour before your appointment somewhere. Or a way for anyone to reach you at any time for anything.

Do you know when I finally broke down and bought my first cell phone? My dad and I were driving on a wintery day and saw an accident in front of us and immediately called 911 on his phone. Luckily, the kid was not injured, but I decided that I never wanted to be without the ability to make that call for someone if I had to. When we were growing up, my Mom would have absolutely loved for her kids to have the security of a mobile phone, and mentioned it on several occasions. She mentioned it would be wonderful to have those "Dick Tracey watches" we saw in comics / movies so she could call us at any time, no matter where we were.

The internet of things will have some killer niche applications, but it's not going to be the transformational experience for most people like cellphones/smartphones were. I'm just having a hard time seeing the same incredible utility that a smartphone offers for most people.

12 hours ago
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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Dutch Gun Re:18B on 75B (493 comments)

Not necessarily. The market rewards companies that demonstrate an ability to outproduce or out-innovate their competitors. I'm not arguing that's necessarily the case with Apple, but a company that reaps large profits doesn't necessarily indicate a broken system.

In my opinion, the best indication of a broken market is a company whose customers hate their guts yet still manage to reap huge profits. That's an indication that legitimate competitors are somehow being kept out of the market, either because of leverage/buyouts, artificial monopolies, cartels, or whatever. Capitalism is a pretty decent economic system compared to the alternatives, but anyone who thinks it's infallible isn't paying attention.

The people that buy Apple products tend to like them, enjoy using them, and regularly upgrade their products with new purchases. Whatever faults Apple has, it's hard to argue that their success is completely illegitimate.

yesterday
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Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record

Dutch Gun Re:Incredible! (190 comments)

I suppose that's legit, if they're purposely reproducing the limitations of that original program, in which case there's a baseline to measure against with similar rule sets. Do you happen to know if that's the case - that the chess rules actually match? I read the articles linked but didn't see that specifically mentioned.

I still have an issues with the claim of "world's smallest chess program on any platform", though, because it's not a complete chess program as nearly anyone would define it.

yesterday
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Engineers Develop 'Ultrarope' For World's Highest Elevator

Dutch Gun Re:just put a motor on the elevator itself (242 comments)

All the engineers who actually have to build these devices obviously never had the brilliant flash of insight after a few minutes of thought that our intrepid slashdot armchair engineers had, of course!

yesterday
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Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record

Dutch Gun Re:Incredible! (190 comments)

I've noticed that they take a fairly liberal definition of "chess", as they simply discard certain rules, such as en passant pawn capture or castling moves, which are pretty important chess moves. It's a bit hard to argue that this is really "chess" if they just decide to leave out inconvenient rules ("chess lite?"). I probably wouldn't complain about other ommissions such as the 3-repetition rule, but castling?

Even so, a very cool accomplishment in micro-optimization techniques.

yesterday
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YouTube Ditches Flash For HTML5 Video By Default

Dutch Gun Re:About D%^& time. (222 comments)

Now if google would just announce no more flash allowed in ads, we'd be set.

Since I don't have Flash installed, I've been delighted that so many ads are Flash-based.

yesterday
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Latest Windows 10 Preview Build Brings Slew of Enhancements

Dutch Gun Re:Ugly as it can be? (194 comments)

They made that argument for Windows 8, and one could conceivably buy that argument for the Metro UI running on very low-powered devices, as MS phones often are. However, there's no conceivable reason to skin your traditional Windows applications in the same way, which are obviously going to be running on desktops and laptops. For a modern GPU, whether or not they're rendering a transparent windows or rounding a border isn't even remotely a concern in terms of efficiency.

No, I think this is an aesthetic decision through and through. I think the "efficiency" angle was probably just an argument made to help sell it. I'm really hoping the "flat, boring, and ugly" trend dies a fiery death soon.

yesterday
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Latest Windows 10 Preview Build Brings Slew of Enhancements

Dutch Gun Re:Ugly as it can be? (194 comments)

Sigh... I absolutely agree about the conclusion. But it's a stretch to say this trend is copying Apple. Windows 8 came out long before Apple's new "flat" look came out, unless I'm aware of a trend that started before that in the Apple camp.

Seriously, though, I'm already completely sick of this "flat, clean, simple" trend. But more importantly, the usability is often worse, sacrificed on the alter of the new aesthetic. In the new design language, button borders are uncool, so they've simply done away with them in many cases, and don't offer any indications of what you can click, or where clickable regions are. Windows 8 was particularly bad with this, so we'll see if Windows 10 does any better, despite using the same basic theme. I understand that aesthetics are important, but they should always, always, always take a back seat to functionality and usability.

With any luck, after a few years, when everyone else gets sick of flat, uninspired graphics, someone will create a new, "retro" look and start adding some bevels, gradients, gloss, and transparency back into the UI.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

Dutch Gun Re:I would be nice if popular CMS's were not so sl (302 comments)

Nope. Throwing faster hardware at a problem is much cheaper than having a team of developers spend weeks optimizing a framework or making a new one.

Generally true, but extremely large scales can flip this around. It's the reason C++ is still being used, especially in places like the data center. When your apps have to scale up to millions of users, efficiency still matters, because it translates directly into CPU cycles, which translates directly into ongoing overhead costs. Admittedly, a relatively small percentage of developers are likely working at that scale, but I thought I'd mention that caveat.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

Dutch Gun Re:The time for "from scratch" is gone for ALL of (302 comments)

And where do those frameworks come from, genius? They were built by the very people you call "too arrogant to use someone else's solution".
You sir, are not a programmer. You are a cobbler-togetherer.

We all build on layers of software written by others, and those layers grow deeper and more expressive as we move forward in time and those layers grow and mature. People like to bitch about how bloated today's software is, but the simple fact of the matter that a lot of those "bloated" layers we bitch about also give us a tremendous leg up in raw productivity and functionality. And yes, everyone knows those layers and abstractions come at the expense of CPU efficiency, and while it's still important to a degree, it's often not the most critical metric (if it is, then that's a signal to move down a layer and write a more efficient abstraction for the problem you're trying to solve). Some people freak out about how very few programmers understand modern system from top to bottom anymore. However, that separation of knowledge is what allows more specialization of technology as it broadens into ever-widening and diverse arenas. While it's good to have some depth, it's also often handy to have breadth of knowledge as well.

I'm not a web developer - I program videogames. In my field, twenty years ago, I was writing directly to the hardware with DOS. Nowadays, I have a rich set of OS-level abstractions for many of those same tasks. Or, if I use a commercial engine, I can jump right into creating content even before the first game-specific code has been written. Does that make me a "cobbler-togetherer" as well? I would be insane to start writing a new game today by creating my own device drivers, or my own low-level rendering abstraction instead of using Direct3D, OpenGL, etc. Or, if I didn't have specific requirements that a commercial game engine couldn't cover, I'd be equally foolish for writing my own game engine.

A good programmer understand and knows the tools of his trade. Understanding the benefits and tradeoffs of various abstractions (i.e. "frameworks") and when you should or shouldn't use them is part of being a professional.

about a week ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

Dutch Gun Re:Windows 10 is Windows 7.10 (489 comments)

Stop with the semantic nitpicking. For the record, I own a copy of Windows 8, and I installed and used it long enough to figure out that I really didn't like the new OS's interface. And no, I'm not sure parroting other negative reviews - I only started reading about those after I started looking online to see if I was the only one who hated it. Sure enough, there were a lot of others like me.

Opinions are subjective. It's rather silly to argue with people that "no, your opinion is wrong". It's like arguing with someone about how root beer is the best drink ever with someone who just happens to dislike the taste of root beer.

about two weeks ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

Dutch Gun Re:Windows 10 is Windows 7.10 (489 comments)

I tried it and absolutely loathed it. It's pretty clear a significant number of users clearly either disliked the interface or were confused by it. The incredibly lethargic adoption rates of Window 8 support that assertion. The interface was probably very nice for a touch device, but it was clunky and absolutely sub-optimal for mouse+keyboard devices. I tried it out and absolutely hated it almost from the moment I started using it. And I don't consider the requirement to hack in a third-party start button a viable solution.

In contrast, Windows 10 is very much what Windows 8 should have been, if MS had actually listed to user feedback from the start. It very much feels like Windows 7, which is what Windows Vista should have been. I've been trying Windows 10 out in a VM, and it's pretty much a checklist of all the things that went horribly wrong with Windows 8 that are getting fixed. Well, all fixed save one: the flat, ugly styling is still there. I wish that trend would just die already.

So, the answer is "Yes, Microsoft will probably get this one right. Their user base, especially the business community, essentially slapped MS upside the head with non-adoption of Windows 8, giving them a very clear message that they won't update until Windows actually works like Windows again.

about two weeks ago
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'Be My Eyes' App Crowdsources Help For the Blind

Dutch Gun Re:Meh. That's What Volunteer Readers Are For. (66 comments)

And from the article, he envisions turning this into a subscription service since it costs money to run, and will cost more if it scales up.

I didn't see any indication of a subscription in the articles I read. May I ask where you read that?

Also, from your various posts, you seem rather opposed to this app, or perhaps the general concept. As someone who may be facing more sight-related challenges in the future, it seems like you'd have a lot to gain if this actually works out well in practice as it sounds in concept. May I ask what your specific concerns or complaints are?

I agree that there are a lot of theoretical ways that vision-impaired people could perhaps be better helped than this app, but this seems like something practical that can actually help people right now. That is to say, maybe we shouldn't let perfect be the enemy of good with these sorts of things.

about two weeks ago
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The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say

Dutch Gun Re:I don't think so. (154 comments)

If they understood significant digits, they wouldn't have measured the changing of an epoch down to the day. That's like me celebrating my birthday down to the millisecond.

about two weeks ago
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Tiny Fanless Mini-PC Runs Linux Or Windows On Quad-core AMD SoC

Dutch Gun Re:Perhaps at last an affordable mini PC? (180 comments)

For one thing, who would bother with a $2000 desktop, except for a gamer with money to burn?

There are some professionals who think nothing of spending $5,000 to $10,000 for a high end PC workstation, let alone $2000. Hell, the software alone can cost many times that much, so why would they balk at buying the best hardware money can buy? Digital audio workstations are a good example of this sort of high-end niche industry.

about two weeks ago
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Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

Dutch Gun Re:Literally (174 comments)

Heh, I would certainly ask you if you meant "decimate as in the Roman army definition" or "decimate as in killed a whole lot of them".

about two weeks ago
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Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

Dutch Gun Re:Literally (174 comments)

When pretty much every English dictionary is in agreement on a revised definition, then we can safely conclude it's more than just a few ignorant kids posting on Facebook and Twitter.

I find it somewhat amusing to be defending the use of the "non-correct" definition of "literally" because honestly, it really irritates me as well. So, you and I can continue being irritated until the day we die, or we can accept that people are going to use the term in a figurative sense (rather ironic, given the original definition), and get on with our lives. If it makes you feel any better, keep in mind that even the new dictionary definition indicates that this is an "informal" use, so it's still not appropriate to use in most written works.

about two weeks ago
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Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

Dutch Gun Re:Mmm... (174 comments)

So what you are saying is it's much ado about nothing?

As you like it. Naturally, one can conclude that, despite the process of defining the English language being an occasional comedy of errors, we must admit that measure for measure, all's well that ends well,

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Penny Arcade Honored by Washington State

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Tycho and Gabe) of Penny Arcade have been honored by the Washington State legislature with a resolution. The bill praises their charity work with Child's Play, for attracting tourist dollars by starting the Penny Arcade Expo, which has grown to become the largest video game exhibition in the country, providing student scholarships, and for their leadership role within the computer gaming community. Washington State is home to at least 45 game development companies, including such notable names as Nintendo of America, Microsoft, Bungie, Valve, ArenaNet, PopCap, Gas Powered Games, Monolith, Zipper Interactive, Snowblind Studios, and more.

This is a marked departure from the typical news involving governments and gaming. One could see the courtship of the computer gaming industry by the State of Washington as a shrewd political move, given the current tough economic times and the seeming resistance of the entertainment industry to recessions. Or, perhaps a bit less cynically, this might just be a sign that gaming has reached a critical threshold of mainstream normalcy."
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Microsoft Lays Off Entire Flight Sim Team

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  about 6 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Microsoft has just laid off the entire Flight Simulator development team. This continues a long-running trend of terminating or severing relationships with game development studios, such as the Bungie split, FASA, or the closure of Ensemble Studios.

While one would presume that core Xbox development is not currently in jeopardy after spending up to a billion dollars to pay for Xbox 360 repairs and salvage its reputation with gamers, does this signal a reversal from Microsoft's recent focus on internal game development? And what are it's plans for Flight Simulator, a twenty-five-year product with an extremely loyal user-base and a multitude of externally developed add-ons?"
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Microsoft Lays Off Entire Flight Sim Team

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  about 6 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Microsoft has just laid off the entire Flight Simulator development team. This continues a long-running trend of terminating or severing relationships with game development studios, such as the Bungie split, FASA, or the closure of Ensemble Studios.

While one would presume that core Xbox development is not currently in jeopardy after spending up to a billion dollars to pay for Xbox 360 repairs and salvage its reputation with gamers, does this signal a reversal from Microsoft's recent focus on internal game development? And what are it's plans for Flight Simulator, a ten-year product with an extremely loyal user-base and a multitude of externally developed add-ons?"
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NCSoft and Epic sign exclusive PS3 deals

Dutch Gun Dutch Gun writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dutch Gun (899105) writes "Epic has announced that Unreal Tournament 3 will be a 2007 Playstation 3 exclusive. Perhaps even more significant, though, is the fact that the widely-used engine will be ported to and optimized for the console, providing an efficient development system for other games.

Sony has also partnered with Korean-based MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) developer/publisher NCSoft to develop exclusively for the Playstation 3. This could be seen as a move by Sony to ramp up it's console's online presence to compete with Microsoft's popular Xbox Live service. NCSoft's more well-known games include Guild Wars, City of Heroes, Lineage I & II, and Tabula Rasa (currently in beta). No specific titles were announced, but it seems plausible we'll be hearing about one or more of these MMOs being developed for the Playstation 3 in the foreseeable future.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?st ory=14650"

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