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Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers

Trepidity Re:Bye bye US cloud (436 comments)

Yeah they've been really playing that up angle when competing against Google Apps for Business in particular.

yesterday
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Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers

Trepidity Re:Applies oversea or applies to local access? (436 comments)

That appears to be the argument, yes. The court isn't claiming authority to send police officers to Ireland and physically seize the data, or authority to force Irish police to conduct a search. Instead they're demanding that Microsoft (a U.S.-based company) produce the requested evidence, if indeed its U.S. staff have access to it (which they probably do).

I think it's problematic from a practical perspective, but I could see how someone could reach that conclusion. Usually jurisdiction of U.S. persons does extend to their overseas assets, e.g. in an investigation of fraud a U.S. court can demand that you turn over your Swiss bank account records, even though these accounts are (of course) in Switzerland.

The main problem IMO is that it puts companies operating in multiple jurisdictions in a bit of a bind. For example, Microsoft Ireland may have responsibility under EU law to not release data except in certain cases, while Microsoft U.S. is required to release it, meaning the company will violate the law somewhere no matter what they do. I'm not sure whether it's possible to avoid that by really firewalling the access, e.g. make Microsoft Ireland an operationally separate subsidiary whose servers cannot be directly accessed by Microsoft USA staff. But that would certainly complicate operations in other ways.

yesterday
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Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So

Trepidity interesting, somehow I didn't even know this (161 comments)

Malina is pretty well known in some corners of CS for his work on kinetic sculpture and generative art, and for founding the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, along with its associated journal Leonardo . But I didn't know he did rockets earlier in his career.

yesterday
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Amazon's eBook Math

Trepidity some more data would be nice (302 comments)

A distribution of the expected returns would be more useful than the mean expected return, which can be dominated by a handful of best-selling titles.

2 days ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Trepidity Re:so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (261 comments)

Well mostly I want a good starting point written by someone who's looked into it (like the DJB ones above). That involves: 1) parts that work together and have been successfully used together, preferably under Linux, by someone other than me; and 2) parts that fit at a good point on the price/performance curve.

Sure, I could dive into separate reviews of every individual component and piece them together myself, but that's more research than I want to do. :)

2 days ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Trepidity so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (261 comments)

But I'm thinking of building one again. How exactly does one go about it nowadays? DJB's computer building guides used to be a nice starting point, but he stopped updating them in 2009. Is there something like that, but with current-gen hardware?

(Fwiw, I'm interested more in workstation usage, not a gaming machine.)

2 days ago
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An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Trepidity Re: I call BS (187 comments)

When contributors have to invest their credibility in their entries, entries are less likely to be wild untruths.

I'm not sure that's true. There is a lot of total shit in the academic literature, and it's getting worse. And part of the problem is precisely that people's names are attached, so they now have an incentive to game the system. People get promoted based on publications and citation counts. This leads to huge pressure to manufacture them, by any means necessary. There are citation rings out there, people reviewing friends' papers, people falsifying or misconstruing results, etc. Some of them are uncovered, but many aren't. And there are lot more low-level gray-area things going on that are less likely to be uncovered.

2 days ago
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An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Trepidity Re:it's not that hard to use Wikipedia (187 comments)

Yeah, that's definitely true. A particularly common pattern is that a journalist just cribs something from Wikipedia without researching it, and then Wikipedia cites the news article as if it were an independent source, when in reality it isn't. I'd personally be in favor of tackling this by strongly discouraging the use of news articles as sources, because they typically have extremely poor standards of research. However that leads to other problems, because for contemporary events there is often no other source available, and pushing this too far then runs into the opposite criticism of Wikipedia, that it's too "deletionist". Tricky balance, I think: Wikipedia should cover as much as possible, but should also be as reliable as possible, which are two goals often in conflict.

2 days ago
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An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Trepidity it's not that hard to use Wikipedia (187 comments)

Especially if you are a professor you should know better. Wikipedia articles cite sources. Well, some of them do. If they don't, you should raise an eyebrow.

If you see a statement in a Wikipedia article that you are thinking of repeating or relying on for something, look first to see: does it cite a source? In this case it did not. In that case, stop here, you should probably not trust the statement. At least not if it's something that matters at all. If it does cite a source, then things are better, but there is still one more step before you should rely on it for anything more than barroom trivia (like, say, publishing an academic paper): you should probably take a glance at that source and see if it really says that.

Incidentally, this will help you use other reference works as well. There are a lot of errors in printed books as well, especially more popular books (those "Who's Who In the Roman World" type books are riddled with incorrect facts). The way to avoid being tripped up by them is to look for references first, and check references second. (How thoroughly to do so of course depends on what you're using the information for.)

2 days ago
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Dear Museums: Uploading Your Content To Wikimedia Commons Just Got Easier

Trepidity Re:interesting split developing (24 comments)

Another one in that regard are the museums that feel they have kind of an "advocacy" role. Like a museum dedicated to the heritage of $ethnicgroup, or to a specific only-slightly-famous painter. They often have a big desire to make their topic more well known, so are more likely to go for the maximum-dissemination route.

3 days ago
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Dear Museums: Uploading Your Content To Wikimedia Commons Just Got Easier

Trepidity interesting split developing (24 comments)

I see at least three common approaches museums are taking to images of their collections:

1. Maximum lockdown: no photos of the collection on the internet, or at most some very low-res ones on the museum's website. The physical museum itself will typically have anti-photography policies to try to enforce this. The goal is to de facto exercise exclusive rights to reproductions of the work (even where the copyright on the work itself has expired), as a revenue source, through e.g. high-quality art books, licensing of images, etc.

2. Disseminate through museum-owned channels. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available to the general public free of charge, via its own website, in at least fairly high-resolution images, a "virtual collection" that anyone can visit. Third-party dissemination may be possible in certain jurisdictions, but the museum either doesn't encourage or actively discourages it. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education, but while maintaining some control/stewardship of the work even online.

3. Maximum dissemination. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available in as many places as possible under a permissive license: its own website, archival repositories run by nonprofits and state institutions, Wikimedia, archive.org, news agency file-photo catalogues, etc. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education as widely as possible, and perhaps also achieve some advertising for the museum's collections and the works/artists it conserves, by ensuring that its works are the ones most likely to be used as illustrative examples in Wikipedia articles, books, newspaper/magazine articles, etc.

4 days ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Trepidity Re:Methane Anyone? (574 comments)

The EU would like to buy American gas rather than Russian, but getting enough LNG infrastructure to replace piped gas is incredibly expensive and not something that can be built quickly.

5 days ago
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Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

Trepidity Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (729 comments)

He didn't get the job done in this case, though. He sent an abusive email about a bug that had already been patched, with a tirade about register spills that aren't even related to the bug.

5 days ago
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Two South African Cancer Patients Receive 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants

Trepidity Re:Mill? (71 comments)

The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste.

How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy, much easier than with other materials like glass or plastics. Especially in the case where you control the environment and can be assured of its purity, vs. collecting scrap metal or something (but even collecting scrap metal is profitable).

about a week ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

Trepidity Re:STEM is the new liberal arts degree (174 comments)

theyre' all hot-shot python hackers but have no idea what the difference between a linked list and an array list is.

Actually I think this is precisely what a lot of non-STEM employers are looking for. When they say they want a computer programmer, what they mean is they want someone who can be the local Excel-macro whiz.

about a week ago
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

Trepidity Re:~50% have no degree... (174 comments)

Real knowledge is in books and I hope people do not require a degree to read.

I think that's actually a big part of what many self-taught programmers are missing. It's not the lack of a degree that's the big problem, but the lack of having read any of the things that you would read when getting a degree. You could read them on your own, but many people don't.

about a week ago
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Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

Trepidity Re:Risk of mutation to something worse? (169 comments)

Well incubation period is somewhat different. Also an issue, but not the same one as asymptomatic carriers. Some viruses have completely asymptomatic carriers, who can harbor it for years without themselves being significantly affected, which makes long-distance spread a lot easier. Ebola doesn't seem to have that.

Although Ebola does have a reservoir in rats, who carry it asymptomatically. No idea what the odds of it spreading via that route are.

about a week ago
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Empathy For Virtual Characters Studied With FMRI Brain Imaging

Trepidity kind of clever (52 comments)

Really this is more about finding a way to collect proxy data for neuroscience, than about studying virtual worlds (despite the /. title). A problem with FMRi studies is that it's often hard to get people to both do what you want to study, and have them be hooked up to the FMRi at the same time. Videogames have the desirable property that people can do things in a "world" while conveniently keeping their head physically parked in the lab.

about a week ago
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Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

Trepidity Re:Risk of mutation to something worse? (169 comments)

Low percentage of asymptomatic cases is also a factor slowing the spread: almost everyone who has an Ebola virus infection develops a serious illness, so there are few (possibly no) asymptomatic carriers who could unwittingly spread it.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Political Pressure Pushes NASA Technical Reports Offline

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year ago

Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that "NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review", and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
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AI Systems Designing Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year ago

Trepidity writes "AI systems can (sort of) paint and compose classical music, but can they design games? Slashdot looked at the question a few years ago, and several research groups now have experimental systems that design board games and platformers with varying levels of success. I've put together a survey of the AI game designers I know of, to round up what they can do so far (and what they can't). Are there any others out there?"
Link to Original Source
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
Link to Original Source
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Appeals Court rules TOS violations aren't criminal

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a decision today (pdf), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act "does not extend to violations of use restrictions", and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
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MP3Tunes wins victory for cloud music storage

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case being closely watched by companies like Amazon and Google, for the implications it could have for their own cloud-based "music locker" services, a judge ruled in the case of MP3Tunes that the way such services operate is generally legal. In particular, they are eligible for DMCA safe-harbor protections, and de-duplication of identical files uploaded by different users does not create a "master copy" that would make the company liable for public-performance royalties. Furthermore, if a fingerprint finds an exact match with an already-uploaded file, the company can legally skip the actual uploading step, rather than only de-duplicating after upload. While this is good news for many other such services, MP3Tunes itself partially lost, because they hadn't properly responded to DMCA takedown notices, and the company's founder had made the bone-headed move of personally distributing public links to some of the "privately" stored copyrighted music. Full decision here (PDF)."
Link to Original Source
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Gamification roundup

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "Controversy continues over the seemingly unstoppable trend of "gamification" (something Slashdot's covered previously). The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business held a Gamification Symposium entitled "For The Win" this week, indicating apparent academic respectability. But in the opening panel debating definitions of "gamification", one participant, game scholar Ian Bogost, defined it as "bullshit". Elsewhere, Jon Radoff responds that it may not be bullshit, but is too focused on superficial behaviorism rather than deeper gameplay. For my part, I wonder if by claiming gamification is a completely new thing, rather than just a new word, we're missing out on important past lessons, like the very strange history of Soviet gamification."
Link to Original Source
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Places with the most Wikipedia articles

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Wikipedia has been making an effort to mark up articles with latitude-longitude coordinates when they refer to a specific location. It's now done so for over a million articles (across all languages). I was curious which parts of the world have gotten the most coverage. The answer is: Florence, Italy has the most articles within a 1-km-diameter circle; and London tops both the 10-km and 100-km lists. Here are the full results."
Link to Original Source
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Cow Clicker tackles world hunger

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Cow Clicker distilled Facebook games down to their essence: clicking on cows. Since then, though, social games have upped their sights, focusing on lofty goals like solving hunger, disease, and poverty. Not wanting to miss this utopian gaming trend, Cow Clicktivism turns clicks on cows into real cows, via Oxfam America. Even better, anyone with a revolutionary idea for how clicking on cows can fix the world can now implement it, using the Cow Clicker API."
Link to Original Source
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Cow Clicker: The Essence of Facebook Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 4 years ago

mjn writes "Game designer and academic Ian Bogost announces Cow Clicker, a Facebook game implementing the mechanics of the Facebook-games genre stripped to their core. You get a cow, which you can click on every six hours. You earn additional clicks if your friends in your pasture also click. You can buy premium cows with 'mooney', and also use your mooney to buy more clicks. You can buy mooney with real dollars, or earn some free bonus mooney if you spam up your feed with Cow Clicker activity. A satire of Facebook games, but actually as genuine a game as the non-satirical games are. And people actually play it, perhaps confirming Bogost's view that the genre of games is largely just "brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money", which continue to work even when the users are openly told what's going on."
Link to Original Source
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Facebook retroactively makes more user data public

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "In yet another backtrack from their privacy policy, Facebook has decided to retroactively move more information into the public, indexable part of profiles. The new profile parts made public are: a list of things users have become "fans" of (now renamed to "likes"), their education and work histories, and what they list under "interests". Apparently there is neither any opt-out nor even notice to users, despite the fact that some of this information was entered by users at a time when Facebook's privacy policy explicitly promised that it wouldn't be part of the public profile."
Link to Original Source
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Library of Congress to Archive All Tweets

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Continuing their recent push to archive more digital content, the U.S. Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."
Link to Original Source
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Prison bans D&D for mimicking gang structure

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a bit, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players ... [which] mimics the organization of a gang'. The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld [pdf] the regulation Monday against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D', but nonetheless upheld it as having a 'rational basis'. Law prof. Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."
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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term "zorch" from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed "work" on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations, that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
Link to Original Source
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Supreme Court skeptical of business method patents

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "The U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument Monday in Bilski , a business-methods patent case that might also have important implications for software patents (Slashdot's previously covered the case several times). The tone of the argument appears to be good news, as the justices were very skeptical of the broad patentability claims. They even brought up a parade of absurd hypothetical patents quite similar to the ones Slashdotters tend to mention in these kinds of debates. Roberts surmised that "buy low, sell high" might be a patentable business method, Sotomayor wondered if speed-dating could be patentable, Breyer questioned whether a professor could patent a lesson plan that kept his students from falling asleep, and Scalia brought up the old-time radio soap opera Lorenzo Jones , featuring a hare-brained inventor with delusions of getting rich."
Link to Original Source
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Lori Drew case cyberbullying case dismissed

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "About 7 weeks after the judge tentative overturned Lori Drew's guilty verdict for "cyberbullying" following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager's suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion [PDF], the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website's Terms of Service cannot constitute "unauthorized access" for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)."
Link to Original Source
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Computing education on a treadmill?

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mark J. Nelson writes "A recent op-ed discusses some educators co-opting cell phones to be used for educational purposes: "Among the exercises, students measured the area of a school hallway, recorded the geologic stages of the rock cycle and found mean, median, mode and range from a group of numbers. They sketched and even animated on the phones." While this might be a useful strategy, Prof. Mark Guzdial wonders if computers in education are on something of a fashion treadmill. Previously, students used graphing calculators for all these things; now we're reinventing the same thing on cell phones. In other areas, the "Hello World" of yore, having grown stale, has been replaced with playing a sound or displaying some graphics. Is progress in CS education really just a process of constantly updating the same fundamental stuff with a fresh look?"
Link to Original Source
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Harmful Effects of SPEC Storage Benchmarks

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Sun engineer Bryan Cantrill, probably best known as one of the designers of DTrace and now working on storage servers, wrote an interesting thorough dismantling of the SPEC storage server benchmarks, accusing them of driving worse performance and especially worse performance-per-price for most workloads. In particular, they seem to be based on workload assumptions from 1986 with little revision (ironically, largely from 1986-era Sun documents), and have particularly egregious requirements for large, randomly accessed working sets that effectively make caching architectures useless, instead rewarding architectures that just throw a bunch of really fast, expensive drives into a box. Coincidentally, that's what the ultra-expensive products from entrenched market leader NetApp do. Cantrill isn't a neutral observer, of course: his current work is on cache-heavy storage architectures based around SSDs and ZFS. But his criticisms still seem pretty solid."
Link to Original Source
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Airport-Security Game iPhone Approval Woes

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "G4TV has a segment on the iPhone App Store approval process of JetSet, a game parodying airport security policies. While you might think Apple objected to the concept itself, they rejected it instead for "inappropriate sexual content", apparently because of the inclusion of items like underwire bras (which are notorious for setting off metal detectors). Worse, they initially didn't say what parts of the game they objected to, leading to a months-long guessing process to get the game eventually approved."
Link to Original Source
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Atari 2600 Book Released

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "AtariAge reports that 'Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System' was just published by MIT Press. It seems to be the first book-length retrospective on the Atari VCS (2600), covering its hardware, programming, business rise and fall, culture, aesthetics, and how all those interrelated to produce one of the most influential gaming platforms. Authors Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort chose six cartridges for particularly in-depth study: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (The title is a reference to the line-by-line video output required by the 2600's lack of a framebuffer.)"
Link to Original Source
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MIPS/Linux hacker Thiemo Seufer dies

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Longtime Linux-MIPS hacker Thiemo Seufer died in a car accident on December 26. Among other things, he was a major contributor to the Linux kernel's MIPS port, served as the MIPS maintainer/co-maintainer for binutils for 5 years, was the main supporter of the Debian MIPS port, and produced thousands of patches to free-software packages ranging from SBCL to QEMU to get them working (or working better) on or with the MIPS platform."
Link to Original Source

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