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Obama's Privacy Bill of Rights: Just a Beginning

PontifexPrimus Re:aren't required to respect the rules? (222 comments)

I know that this may be hard for an American to understand, but we over here still distinguish between government and corporations.

more than 2 years ago
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Amazon Censorship Expands

PontifexPrimus Re:It will continue in silence until (764 comments)

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H. L. Mencken

more than 3 years ago
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Rupert Murdoch Plans a Digital Newspaper For the US

PontifexPrimus They also use the info differently (237 comments)

Not only that, I would imagine the way this information is used is completely different: it is so easy to save a webpage, to copy and paste text or images, to keep a folder of interesting text snippets in apps like Evernote, annotated by you, to share stuff by email. Somehow I don't think any information behind a paywall will allow that kind of multifaceted usage - it's very telling that he is focusing on the most locked-down platform there are. Who wants to bet that this will be another attempt at nickel-and-diming the customers (basic membership allows viewing articles, advanced allows for printing of up to two articles, professional enables copy&paste with mandatory attribution etc.)?

more than 4 years ago
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Obama Wants Allies To Go After WikiLeaks

PontifexPrimus Really? (1088 comments)

“It’s amazing how Assange has overplayed his hand,” a Defense Department official marveled. “Now, he’s alienating the sort of people who you’d normally think would be his biggest supporters.”

You know, you could replace Assange's name in this quote with Obama's and it would read equally true. Trying to drag us Europeans in as allies to support what looks like a war on exposed government cover-ups will not do wonders for how the US government is perceived over here.

more than 4 years ago
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The Economist Weighs In For Shorter Copyright Terms

PontifexPrimus Re:When they're right, they're right (386 comments)

You mean like this? "I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one-tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim's Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living." -- Thomas Macaulay, House of Commons 1841, debating whether copyright should be extended to 60 years after an author's death.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Says Ad Blockers Will Save Online Ads

PontifexPrimus Old behavioral experiment (419 comments)

There's an old behavioral psychology experiment that seems to fit the situation:
To train a horse to lift one of its front legs whenever a bell rings, you start out with a piece floor that can be partially electrified to deliver a mild shock. You ring the bell, you deliver the shock. After a while the horse learns that to avoid discomfort it needs to raise its leg. It lifts the leg - no pain.
Now comes the tricky part: after a while you remove the shocking floor. Now the horse will still lift its leg whenever the bell sounds; and what's more, this behavior will even become stronger and stronger ingrained, since there is no more punishment and the "correct" behavior is re-inforced.
Now assume that instead of a horse there is a user, replace the electric shock with annoyance inflicted by ads and the act of lifting the front leg with using adblocking software. This means that in order to overcome the strong aversion of adblock users you have to offer a very, very high incentive and strong proof that reverting to the old browsing habits will not be punished by more annoying ads.

about 5 years ago
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In-Game Advertising Makes Games Better?

PontifexPrimus NO, we don't. (352 comments)

No, we really, really, don't. I hate ads with a passion, and I can't imagine a situation where I would rather have any space in-game taken up by an ad display than a blank space or a simple generic texture.
This goes double for ads that require an internet connection to update and waste my bandwidth for something I have no interest in.
And lastly, I can not imagine finding anything relevant in an in-game ad: Wow, the new Ferrari is out! I must buy one immediately! Hey, the cinemas in Left4Dead 2: The Bloodening advertise the newest RomCom, surely a must-see!
I play games to fucking escape my ordinary life, not to have the worst aspects transplanted into it, especially since most games don't have realistic (as in "real-world") characters in them, anyway ("90% of all genetically enhanced super-soldiers agree: Clearasil is the choice of space marines!").

more than 5 years ago
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Wolfenstein Being Recalled In Germany

PontifexPrimus Fuck you! (625 comments)

Seriously, fuck you. And get back to me when you can say that on American television; until then, continue denying that anyone in America ever fucked.

more than 5 years ago
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Highly-Paid Developers As ScrumMasters?

PontifexPrimus WTF does this mean??? (434 comments)

Could we please get some explanatory links in here? This reads like a mix between a corporate nightmare ("harmful to our velocity"? SERIOUSLY?) and the rantings of an MMORPG nerd ("I was a level 72 ScrumMaster specced for Agility, but then they nerfed that and our Team Leads couldn't afford the new +5 leadership crafts, so we completely tanked at the Waterfalls of Development, even though we hired N00Bs as cannon fodder!").
Jargon, people! And don't chastise me for not RTFA - there is no FA to read!

more than 5 years ago
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US Navy Tries To Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel

PontifexPrimus Re:Makes sense (402 comments)

[...]reducing the amount of flammable liquids held in a ship that might get hit by a missile[...]

Only now you have a nuclear reactor on a ship that might get hit by a missile.
While I can understand the basic reasoning behind this procedure you will always need to have a large concentration of energy around if you want, well, a large amount of energy at your disposal. And large amounts of energy are inherently dangerous; the only way to make them safer is to require less in the first place. Which means in this case storing the energy in conventional fuel, not something generated by a lossy process. This also allows for a more distributed risks instead of a single point of failure - take out the fuel generating ship and pretty soon the rest of the fleet and the planes won't be able to function.

more than 5 years ago
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Finding New and Unintended Ways of Playing Games

PontifexPrimus Getting around triggers (346 comments)

I love trying to get around triggers when playing heavily scripted games. In many cases you can just avoid setting monsters or events off, and I enjoy it when you can just use the game's unfair tricks against it: "Oh, if I do that the game will teleport several elite forces into my camp." *moves camp* *builds traps and defense towers* *triggers event*
I also like looking at enemies when they're frozen in inactive states - I hate that in almost all games nowadays the corpses just disappear after seconds, so you can never really get a look at the monster design.

more than 5 years ago
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Even Faster Web Sites

PontifexPrimus See also "Anonymous Cowardon" (171 comments)

I mean, how can you overlook something as glaring as a missing space? "Anonymous Cowardon" indeed!
What I miss most is some kind of feedback corner - ok, sometimes the admins invite comments on new stuff, but those threads vanish too rapidly from the front page. Why not include a simple new slashbox named "Feedback" where people could notify the editors and administrators of things that bug them? This might also be an easy way to improve the site by pointing out common problems (spelling errors in submissions could be caught faster and more reliably than by posting in the respective threads, where notices would be modded as "off-topic" or even "troll" when the error was corrected, for instance).

more than 5 years ago
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New Zealand Introduces Internet Filtering

PontifexPrimus Re:ISP's are in a tough spot (215 comments)

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

more than 5 years ago
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What to Fight Over After Megapixels?

PontifexPrimus Open Source to the rescue! (596 comments)

NEVER gonna happen. Not from the big names anyway.

That's what open source and reverse engineering are for. Check out CHDK - a firmware add-on mainly for the Canon Powershot and Ixus series. It allows several of the things you mentioned (maybe all, I only tried out some of the stuff), and in addition it gives your camera the ability to run scripts, making things like exposure or focus bracketing a cinch.

more than 5 years ago
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UK Government Ads Link Games With "Early Death"

PontifexPrimus CausIsNotCorr vs. CorrIsNotCaus (232 comments)

Am I the only one to notice that the tag attached to the story right now is actually "Causation Is Not Correlation" - which is complete and utter gibberish (as opposed to "Correlation Is Not Causation" which is at least an actual phrase)?
How is it possible for misspelled or just plain wrong tags like this to get to the front page?

more than 5 years ago
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The Hard Upgrade Path From XP To Vista To Win 7

PontifexPrimus But should it be that way? (496 comments)

I'm not saying that this might not be the reality, but really, think about to the specs you mentioned: 2 gigabytes of RAM. A dual core processor. 80 GB hard drive.
And all of that just to get the operating system to run! I mean, what are office computers used for? I'd wager that 90% of "office use" consist of text processing, internet browsing, emailing and instant messaging. I used to do word processing on a 386! And it was fast!
I really don't want this to appear like a personal attack, but why the hell are people willing to accept something like this? It bugs the hell out of me that perfectly good computers - computers that have a hundred times more power than actually needed for the tasks they're used to - are thrown away because the underlying operating system is so greedy that it can't run smoothly with fewer resources than those you mentioned.

more than 5 years ago
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Looking Back At Far Cry 2

PontifexPrimus Not quite (138 comments)

My beef with the map implementation is that the designers pretend to make something more realistic (it's not a glowy floaty map but a real, wood-and-paper object!) but then remember that they need the unrealistic component (hey, the character (as opposed to the computer AI) can't see through the dense jungle - we need to give him location markers for the bad guys!) and just slap that on, resulting in something like that magical map from Harry Potter. Why couldn't they have done it completely realistically, with a non-scrolling top-down map with the general topographical features and maybe a separate motion tracker gizmo with the enemy positions on it? Why did they have to significantly downgrade the usability of a feature and use the excuse of "realism"? It's this pretense that really bothers me, the arbitrariness that serves as an excuse to make the game unnecessarily complicated.

more than 5 years ago
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Looking Back At Far Cry 2

PontifexPrimus This. Game. Sucks. (138 comments)

Does the interviewer take the designer's cock out his mouth at any time during the interview?
I only managed to read the first few pages, then I had enough of the fawning, adulating questions like "How did you manage to make this game so awesome, when other games currently on the market are so much worse? Is it because you are so incredibly innovative, because you had so many great ideas, or is it just because this game cures cancer by being in the same room with it?"
I played Far Cry 2, and apart from pointing everyone I know at the Zero Punctuation review of the game, I have a whole litany of criticisms and bad design choices:

  • Your character is sick. No, that's not "sick" as in "phat", "sick" as in "has a medical condition that will not allow him to jog for more than 20 meters without collapsing". In a game that spans several in-game square kilometers that makes walking on foot from one place to another a torturous exercise; but hey, there are vehicles, aren't there?
  • The vehicles suck. They are usually about as bullet-resistant as wet kleenex and have about as much durability; on the other hand they explode into giant fireballs when their lifebar is depleted. Which is incredibly realistic. Because vehicles always do that in real life.
    But it wouldn't be so bad if at least not EVERY FUCKING PERSON ON THE WHOLE PLANET hated your guts and went into murderous overdrive each time they caught sight of a pixel of you; which brings me to the enemies.
  • The enemies are incredibly annoying. And I know that a FPS needs enemies that harass the player, and I can accept that - but here it is getting ridiculous. Every time you pass through the dense, dimly-lit jungle and any of the faction catches sight of you they will catch your scent AND THEY WILL NOT LET UP UNTIL YOU HAVE GUNNED EVERY LAST FUCKING ONE OF THEM DOWN! I mean, seriously, let's talk realism, since that seems to be the great selling point: imagine you're a member of the Imaginistani Militia, posted in the deep forest, told to keep an eye out for your mortal enemy, the Imaginistani Rangers. You spy a single person creeping through the jungle, trying to bypass your guard post without being noticed. So now you sound a general alarm, alert every patrol in a two-mile-radius, call in reinforcements on the radio, tag that creeping guy with a giant "please shoot me" neon sign, grab your wapon and go with every other person in that outpost on a single-minded suicide mission trying to KILL THAT ONE GUY whatever the cost, leaving the guard post... unguarded? Does that sound realistic?
  • But there is worse stuff. Much, much worse. For one thing, there is the map system. Instead of using an (unrealistic, game-y) map on some techno gizmo or overlaid on the screen in a corner, this game's hero has a... *drumroll* clipboard. Yep, a clipboard. With a magical printed map on it which scrolls as you move and has little symbols for the enemies! (Oh, and those little arrows sometimes wander over the fingers of your guy holding the map. Quality Programming!)
    And because the clipboard is opaque you have a situation not unlike the latest Doom game: you can either see what you're shooting at or where you're going, but not both. Not to mention that, as soon as you use the ineffectual "sprint" mode, the character moves his arms at his sides and takes the map out of the viewfield, making it impossible to see where exactly you are trying to sprint to! Man, I can't tell you how often I had looked at automaps or HUDs in other games and thought how they were much too convenient and useful!

This game sucks, and the designer should IMHO spend as least five of the six pages of an interview apologizing for that giant piece of crap that is Far Cry 2...

more than 5 years ago
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YouTube To Allow Self-Serve Ads For Major Media Players

PontifexPrimus Just blue-skying here (115 comments)

So, if they don't want to run an expensive ad campaign they just upload strategically crippled clips through a straw-man, "discover" them and then allow them to stay (in exchange for free advertisement they embed and a share of the advertising revenue from those clips).

Nope, doesn't sound like a bad thing at all.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Google forces another redesign on users

PontifexPrimus PontifexPrimus writes  |  more than 4 years ago

PontifexPrimus (576159) writes "Search engine giant Google seems to come into conflict with its userbase more and more often. After "accidentally" setting an unremovable image background for its search page that annoyed many users they now redesigned their News page. Using a single-column design with mouse-over animations that was panned by the test group that had used it since February this step led to an enormous amount of confusion, complaints and an recurring question: How do I get the old design back? (Answer: You don't.)"
Link to Original Source
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Blu-ray player 1.0? No bonus features for you!

PontifexPrimus PontifexPrimus writes  |  more than 6 years ago

PontifexPrimus (576159) writes "The current Blu-ray players won't be able to access content on disks released later on; the current generation (profile 1.0) won't be able to access the extras on newer disks (profile 1.1, "Bonus View"); the only exception being the Sony PS3. Further down the road we find profile 2.0 ("BD live") which requires internet connection capability for the player hardware. How will the owners of current players react when bonus features and other content will be denied to them on newer releases? Why would a standalone movie player require internet capability? And when will this generation be superseded by profile 3.0, profile 95 and profile XP?"
Link to Original Source

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