5.8 Earthquake Hits East Coast of the US
As a Southern Californian, this made my day.
Indie RPG Struggles On Xbox, Yet Thrives On Steam
I gather that $PROGRAMMING_API is not so awesome if you're trying to port your $LARGE_PROJECT that wasn't originally written in $LANGUAGES_USED_BY_API.
Gearbox Boss Bemoans Superfluous Multiplayer Modes
A few more for the list in this thread:
Doesn't have a story really, but basically all content can be played with up to 4 players. My experience is with the PSP versions, which are very fun with three friends in the same room doing ad-hoc wireless multiplayer.
Lost Planet 2
Didn't play the first one so I can't comment on it. Second one had full campaign coop by again up to 4 players at a time. Boss fights reminded me somewhat of Monster Hunter with guns, otherwise more a gears-of-war style third person shooter. Some parts are definitely designed to be played by a team of people (gun-train, I'm looking at you).
A little old now. Pseudo-mmo style RPG. All content is instanced and can be played with teams of up to 8 human players (exceptions: 4 or 6 in some of the early areas, and 12 in a few end-game areas). Parties should almost always be at max capacity, but if playing with only a few friends and you don't want to or can't find random players to join up, slots can be filled with player-controlled bots.
Little Big Planet (original, and 2)
Campaign supports coop with up to four people. Even some extra puzzle sections that can only be done in coop. Gameplay is a side-scroller with lots of jumping and physics-based puzzles.
Guild Wars 2 Devs Aiming For the Top
I've played Guild Wars on-and-off since launch day. I can understand where the impression that it has been "pushed back" came from, but I don't think its 100% fair. ArenaNet had a problem after the launch of Nightfall (the third campaign): they wanted to do some things that weren't possible in the current engine like persistent zones, but they had kind-of promised new campaigns to the fans. So they decided to stop making new campaigns for GW1 and released the last major new content with Eye of the North (smaller 4th campaign/expansion) back in 2007. At the same time, they announced GW2 at least partially so that fans would know why there wasn't anything new coming (there were also some tie-ins with EotN).
The problem they have now is that it's been four years since the announcement of GW2. The announcement happened very early on in the design stages, so they didn't have very much to show for it besides a title and some vague concepts. They've had to spend the last several years building their new game, and it feels like they've been going very slow or pushing it back because of how long it's been since the announcement. For most games of this size, the announcement would have happened probably mid last year, which is when they did finally start putting up a lot of content about GW2 and their design goals on their site.
The Eurogamer article does a pretty good job hitting the high-points of most of it, but the articles they've posted on their site go into a lot more detail, and are a pretty interesting read (link). I hope they manage to pull off most of the stuff they're talking about, because it sounds like an amazing game.
A New Class of Nuclear Reactors
One would think that with a 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami, Japan would have more to worry about than a little bit of radioactivity. Like the thousands dead and millions displaced, enormous amounts of property damage, and land already rendered useless for farming for several years due to the tsunami. But yet here we are talking about the nuclear plant.
Groupon Could Challenge Google's Record IPO
I think the issue is that right now, most of the really good deals are from businesses who are taking the mindset I described. If Groupon loses out on those deals because they aren't working for the businesses, the site loses value. So, one way of looking at it is that Groupon has built it's apparent value by "screwing over" the businesses offering the deals it has become known for because it can't deliver on the conversion rate they are expecting.
Groupon Could Challenge Google's Record IPO
I'm not sure if you realize how coupons like that work for the seller. I would be shocked if anyone offering a 50% off special for an item is taking anything but a decent loss on that one sale. The idea for a business like a restaurant offering a one-time 50% off is to entice people who would not have otherwise dined their to do so at a trial price. Then, when some non-trivial percent of those first time buyers become regular customers who pay full price, you make back the money over time.
When a local retailer offers a coupon through Groupon, they have to pay Groupon some amount and then pay more per user as the Groupon users make use of the coupon. If everything were working as intended for the retailer, enough of those Groupon users would then become regulars for the increased sales over time to justify the cost. However, if Groupon users are (for example) more avid deal hunters on average then those of other coupon outlets, and most of them will only have a meal at an expensive restaurant if there is a 50% off deal, the restaurant will not gain very much (if any) new regular business and the cost of running a special through Groupon wasn't worth it. In that case, they would have been better off putting their coupon out in a local mailer, or running an ad in the local paper, or just investing it in a making better product.
Now, Groupon users do have a reputation for having a very low conversion rate from one-time deal shoppers to regular customers. The reason I gave is just one possibility I speculated on, but the stereotype exists. The point the GP is making is that if too many businesses get burned by bad experiences with Groupon, then eventually the quality of the deals offered will drop. Either the percentage discount per deal will drop since the business can't afford to lose so much money per sale for a very low conversion rate, or only coupons that expect to make money on a single sale (like "10% off a tire rotation* at Ed's discount tires. *with the purchase of a full brake service."). When that happens (the GP speculates that it is inevitable), the site will lose much of its apparent value
Third Blast At Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Over the first 43 years of the Price-Anderson Act to 2000, the secondary insurance was not required. A total of $151 million was paid to cover claims (including legal expenses), all from primary insurance, including $71 million for Three Mile Island. Additionally, the Department of Energy paid about $65 million to cover claims under liability for its own nuclear operations in the same period.
The handout is mostly theoretical in the sense that, if something did happen it would become a significant handout, but since the nuclear industry in the US hasn't screwed up in any catastrophic* way since it's inception, the theoretical handout hasn't been required. The actual handout of 151 million dollars over 43 years (about 3.5 million per year) is tiny by government standards.
* Catastrophic in this case meaning like Chernobyl, not TMI. TMI was the biggest single payout under this act, weighing in at almost half the total.
Dragon Age II Released
I played through the intro on the "Hard" difficulty last night against my better judgment. The tutorial fight where I was only controlling Hawke felt very button-mashy, but at the end of the intro I had a full party with two or three abilities each, and it felt more like DAO. Also, the final fight of the intro took a decent amount of positioning and control for each character, definitely not just button mashing. I feel like the first tutorial fight was intended to introduce the controls (duh) and show off some of the flashy ability effects in a no-risk situation, and for the earlier fights in the intro the fact that I had maybe one ability per character, after which they just auto-attack, are what made it feel button-mashy at first.
Not sure what the demo covered, but I would bet it suffers from some of the same issues as the tutorial fight (specifically wanting to be easy to pickup, and wanting to show off flashy combat effects).
The over-the-shoulder camera angle didn't help with the feeling, either, but I'm sure I'll get used to that.
Dragon Age II Released
My experience was slightly different accross two playthroughs (OK, 1.8, the second playthrough stalled in the deep roads, which was the last thing I had to do before the finale).
On my first play-through (2nd hardest difficulty), I killed Wynne and my PC was a warrior, so only one mage that was offensive oriented. I had to rely heavily on Morrigan during most of the game, but near the end when my PC got decked out with strong armor and weapons, they took off in power and the Morrigan mostly just CCed groups of enemies while he ripped through them at 100 mph while dual wielding longswords and wearing plate mail. Also, all of my characters were chugging potions like drug-addicts for most of the game due to the lack of healing.
On my second play-through (hardest difficulty), I decided I didn't want to rely so heavily on Morrigan, but I did get Wynne and used her instead. My PC was a rogue this time. I honeslty found the healing abilities of magic to be almost as over-powering as the offensive abilities, and the money saved not buying every potion that wasn't bolted to the floor let me gear my characters earlier to make up the difference in team damage output. When I stopped playing that playthrough, I was getting to the same point where Wynne was becoming less useful, and had I continued my PC probably would have gotten to a similar point as the first game (except with rapid fire backstabs while my bear tanks instead of windmill longswords and plate mail).
I imagine it would be very difficult without a mage on the harder difficulties. None of the other talent trees I used came close to them in terms of AoE CC or healing power, and both of those were crucial to my standard battle plan for long stretches of the game, even though as the game progressed they became less relevant.
Can For-Profit Tech Colleges Be Trusted?
I believe the point the GP was trying to make is that there are differences between the type of poor choice exemplified by (no offense to your fiancee) a degree in artistic metal-smithing from a prestigious private institution, and by a degree in computer networking from ITT or DeVry.
With the expensive liberal arts degree, realistically you know what you are signing up for in advance. You will be getting a degree in something that you love to do and are willing to make sacrifices for. It might turn out in the long run that a more practical degree would have been better, but you know in advance what you are getting. To the degree that the university promotes the degree at all, I doubt they promote it as a great career starter.
With a for-profit, they are almost always selling the degree as a vocational training, or a stepping stone in a career path. Whats more, the big for-profits heavily market the degree to the point of TV spots and the like.
So the point is, a liberal arts degree is sold as "do what you love and get a degree" while a for-profit degree is sold as "start your career and increase your earning potential". If after taking the liberal arts degree, you find yourself unemployable and with loads of debt, you could still have gotten what you paid for. However, if after a for-profit vocational school you find yourself in that situation, you haven't gotten what you paid for at all, in fact quite the opposite. The bad choice was different. With the liberal arts degree, the bad choice was pursuing a liberal arts degree, and it should have been made with a decent degree of fore-knowledge of the likely down-sides. With a for-profit degree, the bad choice was trusting the for-profit marketing materials when there may not be as much information about the potential downsides available.
All this sidesteps the issue of who the two degrees accept. I'd bet that the artistic metal-smithing degree took a lot of work both to get accepted and to complete the program. The for-profits on the other hand have a reputation of accepting almost anyone with a pulse and a student loan.
Former Senator Chris Dodd Set To Head MPAA
I'm not going to argue the point about term limits, and I agree that people moving from elected office to high paying industry positions is a problem. However, it's only fair to point out that Dodd was a U.S. Senator, and Senators don't have term limits.
Fedora Infrastructure Compromised
My first thought was "How will Bogart cope with a compromised fedora infrastructure?!"
Then I remembered Bogart was dead.
Then I remembered Fedora is a Linux distro.
The temperature where I am now is controlled by...
I feel for you.
Our thermostat is apparently (from talking to one of the service guys) attached to some sort of early-1800s analog pipe nightmare elsewhere in the building. We can set it anywhere from high 50s up through 90s. When we make any change, there's some hissing sound (it uses pneumatics to communicate with the mother-ship).
However, these changes to the thermostat have absolutely no impact on office temperature. This summer was especially fun. Some days the fan wouldn't even start when we had it set to 60 and the little needle for current temperature was literally off the high end (95+), and other days I would need to wear 3+ layers in the office, even though it was still at least 85 outside (often warmer). The only thing that works is to call up the aforementioned maintenance guys, and have them turn some valves (literally!) on the main unit, and see how that changes things.
We've finally stabilized around 65-68, which is a little chilly for me but I'll gladly accept it given the alternatives. Also, here in southern California, we usually have the option of opening up the office a little if the temperature is especially far out there.
iPhone Alarm Bug Leads To Mass European Sleep-in
Not to nit pick, but I think you'd want to take meds for your OCD if the clock being one hour off while you sleep was causing issues.
Excitement about U.S. mid-term elections:
Actually, the next election for US Senator from California is for Feinstein's seat in 2014, so 4 years.
Valve Announces Dota 2
DotA (the name of the original game) is an acronym in which the first and last letters should be capitalized (the 'ot' standing for 'of the' is uncapitalized).
Valve's (technically: VALVe's) new game is "Dota 2". It isn't an acronym. There was a bunch of legal posturing about who owns the right to the original name a few months ago with Valve/IceFrog (current maintainer and developer of DotA) on the one side and Riot Games/Guinsoo (the DotA developer/maintainer before IceFrog took over) on the other. Apparently their workaround for avoiding an even bigger legal fight over it is to use "Dota" as a word, instead of an acronym.*
Take a careful look at your post: the name "Dota 2" is always capitalized correctly, and the acronym "DotA" is also always capitalized correctly. It's easy to hate the Slashdot editors for all the things they (don't) do, but at least this time they did get it right (even if it isn't spelled out or obvious why it's right). You'll also notice that the main article (the gameinformer one) has the same capitalization throughout when referring to the original vs the newly announced Valve version.
*This paragraph is just hearsay I heard on the internets (except it is true about there being some legal back-and-forth between Riot and Valve), so feel free to take it with your daily recommended dose of salt.
StarCraft AI Competition Results
Just to add on to your point. In the Mutalisk micro video, it's pretty clear that the mutalisks are prioritizing destroying siege tanks over goliaths. While that might be all well and good in some sort of base defense, or ground/air simultaneous attack, the videos are all of an air-only attack on the enemy base. The siege tanks are literally doing nothing but taking hits, while the goliaths represent the only actual threat to the Mutalisks (except the turrets in the final part of the video). Add on to that that IIRC goliaths take less damage to destroy then siege tanks.
Most human players would realize to attack goliaths before siege tanks in the same scenario, since they are both a softer target and a more immediate threat. Destroying them first means the Mutalisks could continue to harass the enemy base without taking any harassment back. However, the AI doesn't realize this and keeps attacking siege tanks whenever they are present.
Blizzard Backs Down On Real Names For Forums
Guild Wars has a great way of doing this. Basically, anywhere you use a character name (friends list, ignore list, guild*, whisper), it works if the player is on any character on the same account.
A few examples from the GPs account setup would be..
If I add Joe to my friends list, and later he's on Ed, then I'd see on my online friends: "Ed the Dwarf (Joe the Night Elf)". It tells me he's playing on Ed, but it also includes the character name I added him to my friends list so I know who he is if he's playing on some random alt. Guild list works similar to character list, but it doesn't show the "original name" as prominently.
If I send a whisper to Joe while he's playing on Ed, then the whisper will automatically be redirected to Ed (and I'll see in the chat box that it was).
The ignore list will block any character on the same account, so if I add Ed to my ignore list, I won't see any chat messages from Joe either.
Very convenient, and no account names involved.
Apple Hires Antenna Engineers. Really.
After a few tries, the interpretation I liked best was:
$4 coffee is common in California implies AT&T dropping calls is also common implies that Apple testers didn't notice the antenna issue because their calls were getting they were used to getting many dropped calls anyway.
As a Californian who doesn't drink much coffee and gets cell service through Verizon, I can't make any claims on the accuracy of their poorly written comparison..
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