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Single Microbe May Have Triggered the "Great Dying"

LambdaWolf A whole strain? (171 comments)

His theory is that the extinction was caused by a single strain of bacteria. [emphasis added]

Aw, that's not as much fun. The headline made me think that this guy somehow had it narrowed down to one actual organism.

about 2 years ago
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Diablo III Released

LambdaWolf Re:Let me have my many offline alts! (594 comments)

It seems reasonable to me for Blizzard to not want millions of people to fill up their server-side storage with eleventy-million characters, most of which will rarely, if ever get played.

I agree; maybe I was unclear. What I want is the ability to play an unlimited number of single-player-only characters and store the save data on my own, local machine.

There's no reason for Blizzard not to provide this option, except as DRM and maybe to encourage real-money exchanges. The only official explanation I've seen is some limp-wristed story about how they don't want players to spend a lot of time building up a locally-stored character, then decide they want to use it to Battle.net, and get upset when they find out they can't. Just sounds like an excuse though.

more than 2 years ago
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Diablo III Released

LambdaWolf Let me have my many offline alts! (594 comments)

The real evil here, where players will suffer even if they don't mind jumping through the hoops, is the limit of 10 characters per game copy, even if they are only used for single player. That pisses me off. I've been told you don't "need" more than that many, because there are only five classes times two sexes, and apparently no exclusive character choices such that you would need alts for game-mechanics reasons. But you're SOL if you want to enjoy the game experience from level 1 forward and don't want to delete any of your old characters.

But... I went and picked up my collector's edition this morning anyway. I already play all-online games such as World of Warcraft with similar limitations. I can reluctantly live with with paying for Diablo III as long as I think of it that way: as a limited Internet service and not a game you can really, you know, have. It would be a better product if it were the latter, but oh well. Hopefully it will at least be fun.

more than 2 years ago
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Avian Flu Researcher Backs Down On Plan To Defy Publishing Ban

LambdaWolf Triple negative (54 comments)

I love the way that headline is phrased. So he's not deciding not to follow the rule about not publishing, eh?

more than 2 years ago
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University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department

LambdaWolf Re:The Department of Redundancy Department (628 comments)

They don't make money from ticket sales... they make money from ticket sales?

Someone skipped logic 101...

The GP's post made sense to me.

Their athletics program makes money, not from {ticket sales} but from {donations, ticket sales}.

Unequal sets. :)

more than 2 years ago
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Deadly H5N1 Flu Studies To Stay Secret... For Now

LambdaWolf Re:Security through obscurity? Again? (111 comments)

The only way this would be "security through obscurity," in the sense that cryptography experts typically use that piece of jargon, is if they trying to be obscure about the means of hiding the flu data, in addition to hiding the flu data itself. Hiding the flu data is just plain old secrecy.

Since we are talking about scientifically reproducible data, I guess you might be hinting at an analogy to the mathematics or source code behind a cryptographic system: it's foolish to assume that bad guys wouldn't be able to learn facts about H5N1 anyway, in the same way that you shouldn't assume that crackers won't know how your security software operates. But, in a pragmatic context, some temporary secrecy might work out to be a good if imperfect idea—I don't really know.

more than 2 years ago
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Deadly H5N1 Flu Studies To Stay Secret... For Now

LambdaWolf Re:Security through obscurity? Again? (111 comments)

All security is through obscurity. If somebody knows your key, or your hiding spot, or what time you have to put down your shotgun to take a crap, you're through. All cryptography does is let you protect a large secret with a smaller one.

What you say is true, but it doesn't really address security through obscurity. Yes, all information security is carried out through some form of literal obscurity, but the phrase "security through obscurity" is a piece of jargon that involves keeping the security system hidden. In other words, some security engineer has Idea A that can be used to protect Secret B, but only if A remains secret as well. That's bad.

Avoiding security through obscurity means drawing a clear box around the information you intend to obscure—that is, the key—and saying with confidence, "Nothing other than this needs to remain secret."

But then, the flu studies are the informational content, not the key nor a system used to keep that content secret, so security through obscurity really has little to nothing to do with this thread.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Microsoft Developers Need a Style Guide

LambdaWolf Re:I have an idea for the style guide (262 comments)

How about, when naming variables, you have to put the first letter of the typename in the start of the variable name!

Hungarian notation isn't about using the typename at all.

Indeed. Here is some good reading on the actual purpose of Hungarian notation, although of course it's used wrong far more often than not. I've never used it myself, correctly or otherwise, but I acknowledge that the original intent was at least sensible.

more than 2 years ago
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A Defense of Process Patents

LambdaWolf Re:No patents please. (249 comments)

Your post makes me want all debates on IP law to be conducted in free verse from now on.

more than 2 years ago
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How Publishers Are Cutting Their Own Throats With eBook DRM

LambdaWolf Math quibble (355 comments)

in 2009 ebook sales began to rise exponentially

As a geek I'm honor-bound to demand some sort of support for this mathematically interesting statement. Were ebooks really adopted at a rate proportional to the number of ebooks already out there? It's plausible, but sadly I suspect this is just careless hyperbole.

more than 2 years ago
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Dennis Ritchie, Creator of C Programming Language, Passed Away

LambdaWolf An everlasting tribute (725 comments)

for (;;);

/* We owe him a great deal. I'm glad to have benefited from his work and will honor his memory. */

about 3 years ago
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After Cell-Phone Switch-Off, Anonymous Promises BART Protest

LambdaWolf Re:Oh, they can fuck right off. (258 comments)

2) If the protesters are interfering with mass transit, they're just being assholes.

Agreed, however...

1) BART has no obligation to assist them in doing so. BART had every right to turn off their equipment.

...the BART authorities did have an obligation to keep that equipment turned on for normal, paying riders. We're not talking about a private business here; BART is a public, government-run facility and those transponders were paid for by our taxes and fares. They were shut off out of needless and stupid paranoia and it wouldn't have helped prevent an unlawful protest even if one did materialize, so it inconvenienced riders including me for no benefit whatsoever.

And yes, the inconvenience was relatively small. But do you think it's wise to let them take an inch here?

more than 3 years ago
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Reaction To Diablo 3's Always-Online Requirement

LambdaWolf Re:I want more than ten characters! (591 comments)

I think it's up to me whether there's a point. What if I just enjoy the gaming experience of leveling a character up from a blank slate?

more than 3 years ago
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Reaction To Diablo 3's Always-Online Requirement

LambdaWolf I want more than ten characters! (591 comments)

I'm surprised that more people aren't complaining about the limit on purely-offline, single-player characters. (I.e., you can't have any, and can have only ten online characters at a time, even if they never see any multiplayer.) It's enough to keep me from buying the game. I'm a chronic altitis sufferer and I won't be able to relax and enjoy the game if I know I'm tapping a finite resource when I click the "New Game" button. Even if the game is good—especially if it's good—I'd rather avoid the temptation to get invested and be all the more be frustrated when I eventually hit the ten-character limit. Better to just play Diablo II and Torchlight instead.

And by the way, the game will still be cracked.

more than 3 years ago
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Irish Judge Orders 13-Year-Old To Surrender Xbox

LambdaWolf Re:Excellent! (445 comments)

Except it is not a punishment in that sense. It's bail. You have to post that even without conviction. It's not like they'll keep it.

But then what is the value of showing the defendant "what it was like to have something he really valued taken from him" if the court hasn't even concluded yet that he's guilty of taking anything of value from anyone else?

more than 3 years ago
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Capcom Announces Unreplayable Game

LambdaWolf Hideo Kojima had a similar (but less evil) idea (535 comments)

Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear Solid fame) had a similar idea early in his career and apparently has been trying to implement it ever since. His idea was for a game that would erase itself if the player died in-game, forcing him or her to go buy a new copy if they wanted to try to play it again. This was a purely artistic idea, though, meant to force the player to empathize with their character's simulated mortality, and as far as I can tell wasn't motivated by greed. Luckily, all his colleagues realized how crazy it was and never let him get it off the ground.

Doing this to kill the secondhand market is just despicable, though. I hope this turns into a scandal for Capcom. We can all point out how DRM harms legitimate customers and secondhand business until we're blue in the face, but this is going to do it in such an obvious way (that's doesn't even have the pretense of anti-piracy!) that it should get people's attention.

more than 3 years ago
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Scientists Take Charles Darwin On the Road

LambdaWolf Re:Evolutionary scientists?? (170 comments)

Can a scientist be not "evolutionary"? Can you be an "creationist scientist"? Is creationism even considered "science"?

I interpret "evolutionary scientist" as a scientist specializing in evolutionary biology.

more than 3 years ago
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Blizzard Aiming For Q3 Diablo 3 Beta, 2011 Release

LambdaWolf Re:Diablo 3 Forever? (131 comments)

I love Civilization. I've been a big fan of the series since I played Civ II at the age of 13 or so. Just the other day I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Alpha Centauri. But when I found out last year how Civilization V was being released—with every little civ and scenario nickel-and-dimed out as DLC, with a pitifully small selection of starting content for your fifty bucks and it being painfully obvious that they were withholding finished content to sell it to you later—I said "no thanks". Some day, when they're done shilling their so-called "expansion content" and the complete, ne-plus-ultra pack is available on Steam for $20 or $30, maybe—maybe—I'll buy it and find out if there was a good game under all the shameless greed.

So I hope it means something when I say that StarCraft 2 doesn't seem to be done that way at all. It plays like a finished game, with no game mechanics visibly held back to make the expansions more appealing. Blizzard hasn't tried to squeeze any more money out of it with DLC; on the contrary, they've pushed out free bonus maps as they did for their other RTSs. The campaign's story is the right length, and feels like a complete, self-contained episode in a series. If (as they plan) each expansion gives us another equally-sized chunk of story and some new game mechanics as a bonus, I think that's a fair product to sell and I'll happily buy them. And in case anyone from 2K Games is listening, take note: this is why I happily bought the expansions to Civilization III and IV also.

And just so you don't think I'm a fanboy, I don't think everything is perfect with SC2. The all-online model is obnoxious, forcing you to download custom maps through an "app store" is hideously stupid, and the DRM and "you get only one username and profile" thing still make me want to punch someone in the head. (Maybe I want another name! Maybe I think it would be fun to start over earning achievements on a blank slate! Did you think about that when you were trying to make the next Steam or Facebook or whatever? *pant* *heave*)

more than 3 years ago
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Scientists Afflict Computers With Schizophrenia

LambdaWolf Re:Hyperlearning (143 comments)

Do schizophrenics typically have eidetic memories? This is not a symptom I was aware of.

I've often read that remembering something is a constructive process. I tend to think of it like checking out a revision from source control software. All it has are a bunch of diffs and pointers, and it executes a process on them to construct a snapshot of what the code looked like at some particular time. From that perspective, the snapshot is a new piece of output, even though it's cached information from the user's perspective. Human memory is said to work the same way: it's reassembled, not retrieved.

So, if a person has eidetic memory, then one would expect them to have a better than average "ability to extract what's meaningful out of the immensity of stimuli the brain encounters". On the other hand, since a defining trait of eidetic memory (as the term is often used) is being able to recall any detail and not just "what's meaningful", it must also entail exceptional ability to store and recall mass amounts of raw data (the diffs and pointers in my analogy). But nonetheless, I'd expect them to be exceptionally strong at filtering and reconstruction as well if they're able to form that data into coherent memories and verbalize them.

Then I suppose the hyperlearning hypothesis is saying that the reconstruction process breaks down because the data is too abundant and disorganized. Maybe I can extend the file storage analogy a little further: a hard disk that's so full that you can't defrag it? Or one where deleted files stay behind and come up instead of whatever you tried to overwrite on those disk sectors? Corrupt file system table?

IANAN/P (I am not a neurologist/psychologist). This is all my layman's, Wikipedia-level understanding and would welcome elaborations or corrections.

more than 3 years ago

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