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Hitachi Creates Quartz Glass Archival Medium

Xin Jing The Song Remains The Same... (116 comments)

Great, now I have to buy my music all over again.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's Holding Up Single Sign-On?

Xin Jing Yahoo Has Single Sign On... (446 comments)

I moved to Google after the collapse of my Yahoo single sign on multiverse. All things became one, which was the security reason why I shut down my Yahoo accounts and left for Google. Yahoo as a web portal has a number of quality services that are linked. If only their privacy options were more robust I might still be there to enjoy them.

-Xin

more than 2 years ago
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Star Wars To Air As Animated Sitcom

Xin Jing Star Wars Kid Redux... (268 comments)

I still say that Lucas should make his own "Star Wars Kid" character, maybe this is the vehicle for that opportunity.

Jedi-in-training, with a dance in his pants.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Gets Quake II Running In HTML5

Xin Jing Saved Page For Offline... (258 comments)

I wonder if a browser game like this would work if you saved the page for offline access.

more than 4 years ago
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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name

Xin Jing The Origin Of A Name... (70 comments)

An hour of searching revealed these clues to the origin of the classic gaming name Zork. Here's a 2001 interview with Dave Lebling, one of the devs from Zork and the early days of Infocom posted on Adventure Gaming Classic http://www.adventureclassicgaming.com/index.php/site/interviews/171/:

Q: There had been numerous speculations regarding the origin of the word "Zork." For the record, who among the "Infocom Imps" came up with this name? Where is the exact origin of the word "Zork"?

A: I'm pretty sure it was Marc Blank who first applied the word to the game. The word itself was current as an exclamation or nonsense word (like "foo" and "bar") around the lab. Programs in the ITS operating system were had to have six-letter or fewer names, and it was pretty common to use a placeholder name when working on something new. I think Marc used "TS ZORK" as the placeholder, and it stuck.
I think "Frobozz" was similar, of a variant of "foobar." Bruce Daniels was, I think, largely responsible for its ubiquity in the early parts of Zork.

We briefly changed the name of the game to "Dungeon" (which was my bad idea, I sheepishly admit), then changed it back after TSR (the D&D people) threatened us with a lawsuit over it. MIT's lawyers squashed them like bugs but we decided we liked "Zork" better anyway. The widely distributed Fortran version of Zork was written during the period when the game was called Dungeon, which is why that version is often called Dungeon.

Also here's a further clue in "The History of Zork", as recounted by Tim Anderson http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/Articles/NZT/zorkhist.html:

"...Marc, Bruce, and I sat down to write a real game. We began by drawing some maps, inventing some problems, and arguing a lot about how to make things work. Bruce still had some thoughts of graduating, thus preferring design to implementation, so Marc and I spent the rest of Dave's vacation in the terminal room implementing the first version of Zork. Zork, by the way, was never really named. "Zork" was a nonsense word floating around; it was usually a verb, as in "zork the fweep," and may have been derived from "zorch." ("Zorch" is another nonsense word implying total destruction.) We tended to name our programs with the word "zork" until they were ready to be installed on the system."

Anyone got the email address for Marc Blank? Undoubtedly the absolute truth lies with him.

more than 4 years ago
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Palm Opens Dev Program, Offers $1M For Top App

Xin Jing Realistic Expectation Of Success... (91 comments)

I like to think of the browser market for inspiration: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0

I've gotten some commentary about using Hitslink, so here's another reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

Both first place and second place are locked in an eternal struggle to outdo each other. The nearest competition is a considerable distance from the frontline. I believe it's third place that is the real proving ground; success in both of my linked resources is defined as a single digit percentage point with the most room for improvement.

It's much easier to advance 6 points and take third place than it is to advance 26 points and take second place. Firefox isn't worried about Chrome or Safari taking second, the effort to get there is much to great. Chrome and Safari on the other hand occupy a position that is much closer to being dethroned by Opera. And IE isn't worried about any of them taking the lead, it has to extend effort to maintain and defend it's lead.

WebOS just has to close the lead on second by doing what the other OS guys are already doing.

more than 4 years ago
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Critics Call For NASA TV To "Liven Up"

Xin Jing Excitement Through Advertising Promotions... (305 comments)

The new ad-sponsored "exciting" NASA broadcasts:

Narrator: Our astronauts are assissted out of the capsule onto awaiting medical stretchers and swaddled by soft and simple 100% cotton blankets from the Martha Stewart Collection. Folks, these blankets feature a traditional basketweave design for a causal look you'll love to cozy up to after travelling away from home in the coldness of space or settling down at home right here on Earth.

Parched by the dust of stars and daily life in space, the astronauts will replentish vital bodily fluids with a 500ml bottle of Fiji Water. You see, Fiji naturally flavored tropical rain water is filtered for hundreds of years through volcanic stone. Weather you're an astronaut quenching your thirst in the harsh environment of space or working up a thirst right here on Earth, you can taste the purity of Fiji Water in every sip.

Now let's join Phil in the Crew Recovery Vehicle, where our returning astronauts will be examined by NASA physicians and administered body care using Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum. This skin replentishing treatments containing a concentrated Amino-Peptide Complex and are fragrance free. Each treatment delivers several anti-aging ingredients such as Vitamin B3, Vitamin E, Pro-vitamin B5, green tea extract, and allantoin.

For our folks at home on Earth who are just joining in, all of these exciting products that our honored astronauts are benefiting from can all be ordered direct at Amazon.com with free shipping! Just reference the promotional code "NASA LANDING 2009" before January 1 2010.

more than 4 years ago
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NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

Xin Jing Re:Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (123 comments)

While I agree that mechanical automation is more effecient than manual labor, I disagree that it's cheaper. You don't have to look to the stars to see the cost-savings of having cheap human labor right here on Earth. The agriculture industry has many similarities to mining in that when a machine replaces humans, it's extremely costly, very specialized and tends to need a human crew to assist with the operation. I think it's generally accepted that using specialized machines in labor-intensive industry increases productivity to process more work, but the need to have people still involved in production and support never goes away. Nor should it go away as long as industry and economy keep people busy and employed. Obviously there aren't going to be astronauts with pick-axes looking for nuggets of ore, but the cost offset and accptance of risk that can be transferred to human labor will be taken into consideration. Every business that is in business to turn a profit wants to get their operation up and running to make money while reducing the cost to conduct that business, not just applying a risk assessment to the financials but to the manpower as well which become linked when you start insuring the humans that are there and exactly what they will be doing.

Perhaps we agree on the use of specialized machines in off-world mining, in that expensive machines built to withstand extreme environments will do most of the heavy lifting in these operations. Certainly free enterprise and contract bidding will produce healthy competition for the production of and an economic boost to the corporations and nations that participate in the collection of natural resources in space. I think the need to have humans on site, managing, processing, maintaining and supporting the operation of those specialized machines will never completely go away.

more than 5 years ago
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NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

Xin Jing Re:Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (123 comments)

I think that Exploitation Colonialism hits the nail on the head rather accurately http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation_colonialism.

I would imagine that a wealthy space-faring corporation could easily be substituted for a traditional government, and employees forced to work in laborious and dangerous conditions would seek to improve their lives through and organized revolt or uprising, where "the primary cause for revolution was the widespread frustration with socio-political situation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt#Political_and_socioeconomic_revolutions

Let's face it, it's not going to be wealthy and powerful people that will be employed to physically mine minerals and resources from dangerous space locations, it's the same folks that have been used to build empires and further development of infrastructure and the momentum for expansionism since time began - the poor, the uneducated, the desperate and the outsiders.

more than 5 years ago
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NASA Trying To Reinvent Their Approach

Xin Jing Space Leads To Colonies Leads To Rebellion... (123 comments)

And we all know what happens over time when a government extends itself beyond a sustainable threshold for too long - rebellions. Factions. Unrest. New states and governments that represent the people and their values. The classic example of establishing an independent base away from Earth is that one day if it survives, it will become a separate entity and demand recognition. In the past, the most technologically advanced and financially powerful countries in the history of the world had sent out ships to discover and tame a new land and guess what happened - things were never the same again.

Governments don't want colonies because of the inherent cost and effort to establish and maintain them over a protracted time. When American was new, for awhile it was a money-grab and several nations participated because it was a frontier where companies could pay others to do the hard work and extend their reach and hopefully deepen their pockets. All of those efforts were reduced to war in order to stop a new state from forming.

Historically, the human desire to acquire wealth has always run headlong into the need to exploit others to obtain that wealth and power. When a sustainable space-faring colony is finally created, we'll get to learn again that those who are in direct control will have plans of making that colony their own by establishing a new government to protect and provide for the people better than the governments that sent them there. In order to promote the ideals of wealth and power, the value of human rights gets violated.

And then begins the arms race, the effort by the governments of origin to minimize the loss of assets and sovereignty, the efforts by the separatists to establish a new place for themselves and ultimately be accepted as a distinctly different people with the right to shape their own destiny. Once people get the taste of freedom and the chance to claim their own space and write their own chapter in the pages of history, there's no turning back.

more than 5 years ago
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How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

Xin Jing Presidential Detection of Emissions... (279 comments)

I'm sure the Secret Service has a sphere of detection around the the President, that monitors various kinds of emissions.

I'll leave the specifics of that up to your personal interpretation and research.

more than 5 years ago
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How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

Xin Jing Genetically Modified Citizens Are Loyal Citizens.. (279 comments)

While they are busy going about their business of damaging our DNA, why not target specific DNA bases? In one fell swoop the government can defend the state against enemies foreign and domestic, and at the same time ensure that future generations of taxpayers and residents comply with government standards of genetic expression and behavior.

How long will it take before a specific ethnic group claims that their DNA is bombarded with higher doses of more damaging radiation?

On the upside, the tin-foil hat brigade may finally have cause to bring to market a line of clothing and accessories that seeks to protect people from the prying eyes of their government.

"Travel wear in this modern age of government suspicion and distrust contains the latest advancements in anti-invasive technology."

It could present some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, say a remake of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing [DNA] In The Name Of".

Uncle Sam can modify our DNA, take our genetic rights away and bombard our genes with harmful radiation. Generations from now when humans have been turned into the perfect willing slaves, they will still find a way to resist opression - it's the human way.

more than 5 years ago
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Intergalactic Race Shows That Einstein Still Rules

Xin Jing Re:String Theory Scale... (227 comments)

It look like we are both right:

From the NOVA 'The Elegant Universe' transcript:

"In fact, if an atom were enlarged to the size of the solar system, a string would only be as large as a tree!" http://www.scribd.com/doc/185276/NOVA-The-Elegant-Universe-Transcript, jump to page 26 or keyword search for "solar system".

I find this similarity and difference between the book and the video interesting. While Greene doesn't specifically reference the distance in the video as being measured in Planck Length, the concept of enlarging an atom on a cosmic scale and using a tree as the reference as to the size of a string is nearly the exact same example at that used in the book. It's clear the intent is the same since the string theory subject matter is the same. Does the measuring in this example start at the heliopause or the termination shock?

In think both expressions captures the essence of the distances involved, but when you take something as inherently tiny as an atom and enlarge it to the size of our solar system measured across the heliosphere to the termination shock, we're still talking about incredible vast distances, and this just an atom which we're unable to view with any clarity using scanning tunneling microscopes. The distance analogy might as well be expressed as "can we see an atom on Pluto from the Earth".

Having the expression be "if an atom were enlarged to the size of the universe" is incomprehensible. Yet perhaps it's matched to the insurmountable task that string theorists have before them to provide a testable prediction. By suggesting that an atom be expanded to the size of the universe and the observer is then required to look for a specific tree to mark a unit of measurement is again suggesting an equally impossible and untestable and unfathomable concept. Yet with the universe example, no one will ever have that opportunity to say, "yes, I can see that Planck Length example that Brian Greene used is correct. From where I sit in my chair here at the edge of the universe, my calibrated equipment can detect that tree" is absurd.

Again I reference a quote from 'The Elegant Universe' video, this one made by S. James Gates Jr. from the University of Maryland on page 14 of the transcript I linked above, "If String Theory fails to provide a testable prediction, then no one should believe it."

At one point you are left with something you can't ever verify - and that's where facts end and belief begins.

more than 5 years ago
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Intergalactic Race Shows That Einstein Still Rules

Xin Jing String Theory Scale... (227 comments)

In "The Elegant Universe" Brian Greene http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Greene made a similar analogy in regards to string theory: if an atom were expanded to the size of our solar system, an individual string would be the size of a tree.

However, He didn't specify what kind of tree.

more than 5 years ago
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Asus Releases Desktop-Sized Supercomputer

Xin Jing Boinc Applications... (260 comments)

As a participant in the Milky Way and SETI projects for BOINC, I can say this development is impressive and would be a cruncher's dream come true. It would put supercomputing power in the hands of the everyman and allow applications that rely on distributed computing to take a leap forward.

more than 5 years ago
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Game Retailers Facing Digital Distribution Transition

Xin Jing Re:Steam As An Example... (155 comments)

Fantastic points! We both agree that the industry leader for gaming digital distribution is Valve and Steam.

1. Bandwidth - Not having an alternate way, any way to get games to consumers without downloading is a missed opportunity. My suggestion is that at checkout on Steam, you can select to pay a few dollars more and wait an additions few days for the physical media to be created and mailed to your address. To minimize any problems, the activation code could be recieved at the time of purchase and required when the software is installed upon delivery, or make the games default to off-line mode. Valve and the developer could realize lower operating costs by reduced bandwidth usage for a segment of their clientele that currently has no demographic. Let's face it - the Steam model revolves around POS and download, not POS and mail. I'm sure the DVD+mailer packaging that Netflix uses could provide some evidence that costs per unit, offset with an additional handling fee, would benefit everyone else that chooses to download their content. The only valid reason I can think of that this wouldn't be permissable is when ordering a physical copy of a game through Steam conflicts with a retail version of the same game manufactured through another distributor. In that case, the developer needs to provide for this contingency and package the game with other materials upto and including other content to create a new SKU or package. Allowing the archival copy (as mentioned in #2 below) is essentially creating a physical copy of the same game that can be puurchased at retail, only you need the Steam frontend and authentication process to access it.

2. Archival Copy - I know that Steam allows the user to burn the game to physical media, but I've never done it so I don't know exactly how it plays out. Granting the end user the ability to burn one archival copy, with the record of fact maintained by Steam, should be permitted. That means that weather the consumer chose to order the physical copy (as I suggested in #1 above) or download it and burn it themselves, the integrity of the game and the system remains intact and the customer gets several ways to store the content.

3. I believe in economies of scale and supply and demand. If Steam is releasing a new game that cost a lot to make and promote, they should be allowed to ask a lot for it. Historically, Valve and the developers have been good about utilizing pre-order promotions, pre-sequel price drops and post-release discounts to encourage sales spikes. Generally though, these are targeted for gamers that are early adopers or those that are willing to wait until the marketing hype cools down. I guess it comes down to what the consumer feel is a good value, getting a AAA title on release day or waiting until it's aged.

Interestingly, I bought the retail GOTY edition of Oblivion from Wal Mart for $19.99 and it (at the time) was on sale on Steam for the same price. I'd much rather enter my retail codes on Steam, pay a few dollars to Valve and Bethesda (who are already Steam partners) and let lifetime upgrades and patches on my retail version so I don't have to worry about it anymore. In this Oblivion example, to the best of my knowledge all respective parties are represented so there's no reason why I can't grandfather in my retail game (for a fee) and get Steam support that includes authentication. Then in the event that I lose my retail physical media, I can pay again a handling fee and have the Steam version mailed to me.

To opt out of the download and usage of bandwidth should be a noticable savings to Valve, but as I indicated I'd be glad to pay additional for that option and have either/or content insurance for life.

more than 5 years ago
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Game Retailers Facing Digital Distribution Transition

Xin Jing Steam As An Example... (155 comments)

I'll use Steam as a good example of digital game distribution because they are very good at it, although have room for functional improvement. Steam is a good thing, but I didn't start out feeling that way. Even now, I have issues with not being able to grandfather (aka register and seamslessly update) in my old retail games that Steam currently offers the same downloadable version of. They have a limited list of retail games you can do this for, but it's not nearly extensive enough. I priced my retail game collection and to replace it all with Steam version of the same games, I would have to spend a couple hundred bucks. There are a number of ways Steam or the original distributor that has a presence on Steam could handle this migration, but it's still disappointing to some degree. An observation I have with Steam is the failure to provide a premium option (ie you pay extra for it) to have Valve burn and mail a physical copy of the game(s) you want, default-configured for off-line play, that is still part of your profile of games.

On the other hand, I give Steam a huge tip of the hat with regards to being one of the first to stake claim and set up shop on the new digital frontier. It's obvious they are serious about providing a fair service for their downloadable content and return customers are their lifeblood. As a bonus, there's some quality free stuff on their site, so you can download the client for free and play games for free, or load up on "bargin bin" games on the cheap. Plus Valve and their partners are aware that with the new digital download sales model, there's room for hefty discounts and weekend promotions.

I think the old model of a distributor swallowing up developers to become "in-house talent" like EA or Vivendi or Zenimax is a fading concept. Distributors want to purchase more developers so they have something to sell, because the costs of retail operations and marketing are expensive. With digital distribution, the game distributor doesn't have to tie up it's money with talent acquisition, they just have to create lots of partnerships to promote and sell the games as inexpensively as possible and return maximum revenue to the developers so they can make more games so the cycle can continue - no development employees to lay off, no cost overruns due to protracted development cycles.

I keep coming back to Valve as a great example, since they offer so many services under one umbrella, but they also are very accomodating to game devs that just want to sell games and make some money while maintaining their independance.

more than 5 years ago
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Where Should We Focus Our Space Efforts?

Xin Jing Solar Slingshot Clarified... (703 comments)

I'm sure a viable solution will rely on current and emerging technologies to achieve the tolerances required for such a Herculean feat. A couple of clarifications: I said "approaching relativistic speed" to indicate an order of magnitude more than the speeds achieved by current generation space propulsion systems. Also I emphasized the need for top engineers and scientists to calculate an optimal trajectory, since the best real-world examples of a solar slingshot will undoubtedly rely on discoveries and technologies designed and manufactured for planetary atmospheric reentry. It makes sense to reduce risk and operate using narrower tolerances if the mission is unmanned. Also, the purpose of the mission must be defined; specific mission profiles could include requiring the spacecraft to return to Earth for analysis or complete an orbit of the sun and and emit a signal for detection.

Clearly the most critical stage of such a mission would be entering, surviving and exiting the solar atmosphere where the surface temperature is 5,500 degrees Celcius http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun or 9,950 degrees Fahrenheit http://www.wbuf.noaa.gov/tempfc.htm

On the heat issue - the TPS (thermal protection shield) needed to operate in such an environment would include some of the following current and emerging technologies:

1. Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablation (PICA) or Silicone Impregnated Reuseable Ceramic Ablation (SIRCA) - I think the good folks working at the Thermal Protection Materials and Systems Branch of the Ames Research Center are headed in the right direction. Thermal soak capability for silica heat tiles have shown tolerances of 1,260 degrees Celsius or 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is half of the temperature of the surface of the Sun. Granted, more testing and development is required to draw definitive answers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_re-entry#Thermal_protection_systems

The Galileo Probe is history's best example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Probe of the most difficult atmospheric entry. Obviously the mission perimeters and requirements were very different than what I'm proposing here, but they give us unique insight into extreme conditions during atmospheric entry and what ablative shielding can do for a spacecraft. Galileo experienced peak shock temperatures of 16,000 degrees Kelvin. Keep in mind this is circa 1989 technology.

2. I'm not nearly mathematically or scientifically competent enough to calculate entry vectors, atmospheric density, terminal velocity, spacecraft TPS lifespan, escape velocity and all of the other variables required to accomplish such an astronomical feat - but I can understand the underlying engineering, celestial and scientific concepts and visualize them in concert. Again, it would have to be determined if the goal is to retrieve the spacecraft for physical analysis (optimal) or to monitor it (desired). Naturally, they complexity would increase as you tighten the requirements and bring the spacecraft back to Earth or rely on active or passive breaking to slow it down.

I believe the spacecraft would need to transmit a signal after it emerged from the other side of the Sun, allowing it to re-establish contact with observers on Earth, and indicate that it in fact traveled through time.

more than 5 years ago
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Where Should We Focus Our Space Efforts?

Xin Jing Solar Slingshot... (703 comments)

The best engineering and scientific minds in the world could calculate a trajectory that would throw an object around the sun and back in time. At one point the object, if constructed well, could concieveably approach relativistic speed.

Someone do the math or correct mine:

Distance from Earth to Sun - 93 million miles. Before solar gravity assist, the object would be travelling at ~500 miles per hour (based on the Apollo Command Module travelling from Earth to the Moon and not including auxillary propulsion assist to terminal velocity) would be just over 21 years to reach the Sun (93 mil / 500 mph = 186,000 hours / 24 hours in a day = 7,750 days / 365 days in a year = 22.233 years to reach the Sun.

Distance around the Sun - 365 days or 1 year, minus the time saved by the accelleration by gravity assist.

Distance from the Sun back to Earth - 22.233 minus the accelleration by gravity assist.

Total Round Trip Time - 22.233 + 1 + 22.233 (minus time from gravity assist) = no more than 43.466 years.

Im sure there are some studious individuals here that can punch holes/clarify my theories and/or calculations.

more than 4 years ago

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