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Comments

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Apple Locks iPhone 6/6+ NFC To Apple Pay Only

_xeno_ NFC isn't used for just payment (295 comments)

Apple does realize that NFC isn't only used for payment systems, right? My camera can transfer pictures to a smart phone using NFC. It allows you to take high quality pictures of something and then post them straight to whatever social media you're using without going through a computer. It's a really nice feature when you're wandering around someplace photogenic and don't want to be limited to a cellphone camera.

Oh, right, Apple declared proper digital cameras "dead" in their iPhone 6 keynote. I guess that feature will never make it to iOS then.

Not to mention other types of data transfer that's possible with NFC like easily sharing contact information or things like that.

yesterday
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Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

_xeno_ Re:Not good enough (319 comments)

No. Automatic Downloads are turned Off by default.

No, it isn't. Apparently you're told to turn it on during setup (it's "recommended" or something) and so it doesn't default to either off or on, you're forced to decide. Which means that:

If it is setup otherwise on your devices, you turned it on.

Is technically true. But only technically.

Because there are definitely people out there who have automatic updates on and didn't know that their phones could even do that. They complained loudly enough that this article exists.

So either someone else turned it on for them, or they missed the part during setup where they could turn it off. Or more likely failed to understand what they were asked during setup and turned on a feature that they had no intention of ever using, since it's only useful in a very bizarre set of circumstances.

2 days ago
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Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

_xeno_ Re:Not good enough (319 comments)

You can set a bit such that the phone will only download new purchases over wifi.

And how many users do you think knew that they needed to do this prior to the album being released?

The autodownload feature is only useful if you're completely within the Apple ecosystem and regularly buy songs from your iPad and want them to show up on your iPhone (or vice versa). If you either never download tracks off the music store or only download them on a single device (such as, say, someone who only owns the one iPhone), you'd never know that there even was an automatic download feature. (And if you're downloading them to your PC, you just sync to it and don't worry about downloading it a second time.)

If you aren't aware there is an automatic download feature, how are you supposed to know to either turn it off or set it to wifi only?

U2 showing up on the phone is likely the first time the majority of users even were made aware that there was an automatic download feature. Based on the articles and comments I've read, I know that there are people who only discovered this feature existed when U2 suddenly showed up on their iPhone. It may turn out to be a vocal minority, but this definitely was not something all iPhone users expected to happen.

2 days ago
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Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

_xeno_ Re:Not good enough (319 comments)

a) false. You had to have your device set to allow automatic pushes.

Which is, of course, the default.

And, if I'm not mistaken, Apple defaults to downloading anything less than 100MB over cellular data. Which could be quite costly to people on more expensive data plans.

III) That's irrelevant to what happened. You putting this here tells me the only reason you are upset is because it's a group you don't like.

Well, yeah, it's U2. Their music is terrible. I'd be pretty pissed if I had U2 forced on me.

Wait, "anyone who has an Apple account?" Crap. That does include me.

2 days ago
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Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

_xeno_ Re:No no no... (85 comments)

From what I've been reading, it seems most likely that only some of these photos came from compromised iCloud accounts, and those accounts were probably not compromised due to an exploit of iCloud's service.

As I understand it (and I may be wrong), the accounts were accessed by abusing the "forgot my password" service. Resetting someone's Apple account password on them is notoriously easy, and it would make sense that's the way the hackers did it. I thought they didn't blame "weak passwords" so much as they blamed "weak security question answers" that the "hacker" guessed the answers to.

Then again, I may be misremembering or misreading the stories, I'm not sure if the actual details have been made public.

about a week ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

_xeno_ Re:Any removable storage yet? (730 comments)

And the fact that it is the #1 camera and #1 camcorder in the world is proof positive that they have succeeded.

I call bullshit on that. The iPhone isn't even the #1 phone in the world.

And let me try and make my point clear: Fake-Steve-Jobs was standing in front of a slide showing a camcorder being destroyed, saying that they were made completely obsolete by the iPhone.

And that's entirely bullshit.

Until the iPhone has a user-replaceable battery and removable storage, it will never replace a real camera or a real camcorder. It simply can't.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

_xeno_ Re:Any removable storage yet? (730 comments)

And I'm guessing the last time you used it there were two zeros in the date?

The last time I used it was Saturday. The last time I tried to take video with my cellphone was ... I actually can't remember. Probably because if I'm going to be taking video of something, I'll generally plan ahead to have the camcorder around.

There's absolutely no way the iPhone has enough storage space to make recording video viable without removable storage. Not unless you're only using it for things like Vine.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

_xeno_ Re:It was amazingly bad (730 comments)

Based on the issues as you describe them, I can only assume they decided they'd use their new improved video camera and streamed the entire thing from a new iPhone 6. :P

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

_xeno_ Any removable storage yet? (730 comments)

I only saw one brief bit of the stream, and it was where Steve Jobs Wannabe (Tim Cook?) was explaining how no one used camcorders any more because the iPhone could take better video. Which leads to the obvious question: does the iPhone have a replaceable battery and removable storage yet?

Because I still have a camcorder hanging around and I use it when I want to take a video that lasts longer than a couple of minutes. The entire reason I have my camcorder is so that I can take two hour videos. Then, when the battery dies, I can swap it out with a new one. And if I manage to run out of storage space, I can swap out to a new SDXC card.

Can't do either of those with an iPhone, making it a toy at taking pictures and video. Which is, to be fair, frequently fine. But Faux-Steve-Jobs's idea that the iPhone can replace a camcorder is just hilarious without those two very simple features.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

_xeno_ Re:WiFi Calling? (730 comments)

Technically they've had it since last year when they added the ability to do audio-only video calls.

Which is ... still 5+ years too late. But, hey, slightly earlier than you were thinking!

about two weeks ago
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Feds Say NSA "Bogeyman" Did Not Find Silk Road's Servers

_xeno_ Re:Seems unlikely to me (142 comments)

Well, you could actually read the dam court documents. If you put random junk into the CAPTCHA boxes sometimes you would get an error page back - over TOR - but which contained the true IP address of the server.

Where do you get this? Because the court documents in the article certainly don't say that. In fact, they seem to be saying that the IP packets themselves contained the IP:

Upon examining the individual packets of data being sent back from the website, we noticed that the headers of some of the packets reflected a certain IP address not associated with any known Tor node as the source of the packets.

That's not an error message, that's (apparently) an HTTP(S?) request being sent straight to the Tor servers. And the only way I can think of to screw up a CAPTCHA implementation to do that would be to have it construct a complete URL using the host IP instead of just using the configured host name, which would be insane.

Again: according to the FBI themselves, this wasn't "debugging data" or anything, it was packets that were for whatever reason completely outside of the Tor network.

I don't know why people seem to find it so hard to believe that the FBI would decide to target the highest-profile online illegal drug marketplace without prompting from "sinister forces"

Because we're aware of things like COINTELPRO or, for those of us in the Boston area, remember little things like Whitey Bulger? I don't trust the FBI because they've gone out of their way to prove they are not to be trusted.

about two weeks ago
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Feds Say NSA "Bogeyman" Did Not Find Silk Road's Servers

_xeno_ Re:Seems unlikely to me (142 comments)

The only way I can think of to accidentally do what the FBI is claiming is if he just grabbed an poorly written CAPTCHA program off the Internet and it constructed its own URLs back to the server using the server's IP address.

Why it would do that instead of using the configured server name or, even better, just use a relative URL would be anyone's guess. But it's the only plausible way for the FBI's explanation to make any sort of sense.

(Or, to put it another way, they're almost certainly lying.)

about two weeks ago
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Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

_xeno_ Re:How long until every stream links to Amazon? (61 comments)

As for lag, there's no 'lag' between gamer and chat. The streamer can and will put on stream delays to prevent cheaters from attempting to use up to date information against them in-game (Stream cheating does happen alas). There is always a little bit of lag, but generally speaking it doesn't happen notably most of the time.

I just checked this by trying to stream something. You're wrong, there's an enforced 30-60 second delay between when you do something and when your viewers see it happen, and it's impossible to reduce this without becoming a Twitch partner. It's more than enough to make meaningful chat with viewers impossible.

I do want IRC integration with twitch chat, but oh well...

This already exists? Granted I haven't tried it recently.

about two weeks ago
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Steve Ballmer Authored the Windows 3.1 Ctrl-Alt-Del Screen

_xeno_ Re:Hexidecimal (169 comments)

Did he also decide to produce the Hex output that is entirely useless and without merit?

If you read the blog entry, this is talking about Windows 3.1's BSOD. A screen I honestly did not know existed, although Windows 3.1 is so old that I'd have been a kid, so maybe it popped up all the time if you used computers daily back then. I have no idea.

Windows only picked up preemptive multitasking in NT and later 95, so Windows 3.1 was cooperatively multitasked. Apparently if the running program didn't respond to incoming messages quickly enough (presumably a check in an interrupt handler?) a blue screen would appear, and Steve Balmer wrote the text for that blue screen.

Windows 95 and NT don't use that blue screen since the blue screen that appears in 95 is for driver faults (basically) and one in NT is for kernel panics.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

_xeno_ Re:Stupid design, appalling (131 comments)

This deserves to be seen more, but when the Facebook app launched, it did have the option to switch to auto-play videos on wifi only. But you couldn't disable it on wifi.

The problem for me is that I have a mobile Internet hotspot which means that as far as Facebook cared, it was wifi which meant it could use all the data it wanted.

Thankfully there is now an option to turn off autoplaying videos on both the website and the apps (along with a wifi only option for the apps, but not the website). Of course Facebook should just default to autoplay off because it's a worthless feature that no one I know wants, but if they did that, no one would know that they added this new "feature." That no one wanted.

about two weeks ago
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Firefox 32 Arrives With New HTTP Cache, Public Key Pinning Support

_xeno_ Re:Still having misery with Firefox. (220 comments)

I never understand how people manage to keep that many tabs open because Firefox regularly corrupts its own session and refuses to restore the previously open tabs. Routinely.

So every couple of weeks I "get" to reset all my tabs back to nothing when Firefox corrupts its own session and refuses to restore the original settings.

And this is on every OS I've used Firefox: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X; it makes no difference, Firefox regularly refuses to restore tabs.

about two weeks ago
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Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

_xeno_ Re:Where are these photos? (336 comments)

You don't need to take photos using an iDevice to have them end up in iCloud. All you need to do is use a Mac.

If you use a Mac to download pictures off your camera - including cell phones that aren't iPhones and therefore behave like standard cameras and don't require Apple-specific software - by default, your pictures will end up in iCloud. It's part of the "Photo Stream" thing to allow users to stream pictures to the Apple TV that clearly every Mac owner has.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

_xeno_ Re:How long until every stream links to Amazon? (61 comments)

The lag time is determined by the streamer, many choose to make it just a few seconds but some do choose longer times, which definitely does inhibit their ability to interact with their audience via chat.

Apparently (and I don't know that this is true as I don't use Twitch that often) you can't reduce it to a reasonable time any more. (Maybe it's changed?) All I know is that people I know who do stream games where they want to have audience participation (things like having the stream direct the choices they make in an RPG) have switched to using HitBox due to the amount of lag between when they do something and when the viewers see it.

about three weeks ago
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Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

_xeno_ How long until every stream links to Amazon? (61 comments)

For those not familiar with Twitch, every stream contains a "Now Playing: (Game)" thing with it, and you can select which game you're playing from a pre-defined list of games.

Bets on how long until that become a link straight to Amazon to buy said game, and how long until streamers become Amazon affiliates and start getting money for driving people to buy their games off Amazon?

Because that's the only angle I can see Amazon having here: trying to get gamers to grab games off Amazon. (And they do sell digital game downloads, so they do compete with things like Steam.)

Maybe Amazon can fix some of Twitch's more recent problems like the horrendous stream lag that makes it impossible for streamers to communicate with the stream chat since the stream now has something like 30 seconds of latency between streamer and audience. Then there's Twitch's new weird anti-piracy thing where they mute audio if they detect that the audio contains a copyrighted song (hint: for video games, that's always) and whatever other issues people are complaining about Twitch these days since I never bother to use it.

about three weeks ago
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"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

_xeno_ Re:Modern Television Style - Thanks Beyond Product (364 comments)

Worse, on BBC America, they actually edit out large portions of the show.

Remember that the original show is nearly an hour long without commercials. So for the US version, they edit it down to the standard 44 minutes so they can include 16 minutes of ads. Which means you're missing anywhere from 12-20 minutes of content depending on original. (Based on Netflix run times.)

They've started showing the initial airing of a new Top Gear in hour 20 minute blocks, but repeats are always the edited versions. There's some stuff that's simply never been shown on US TV because it was edited out for ads.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Sony Doesn't Know Why Anyone Would Buy a PS4

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about a month ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "With cell phones and tablets becoming common, you might expect that dedicated TV-based consoles should be on the way out. Or, at least, Sony seems to think that may be the case. Yet the PS4 has already sold 10 million units, and Sony doesn't understand why. Sony's data indicates that the people buying the PS4 are for the most part not people who bought PS3s — leaving them concerned that they've already exhausted the market of people still interested in console gaming."
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about 6 months ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "Mozilla recently named a new CEO, Brendan Eich, and as commentators in that article noted, there could be some backlash over his private contributions to political campaigns. Well, it turns out that they were correct, and despite a statement from Brendan Eich pledging to continue Mozilla's inclusiveness, some Mozilla employees are calling for him to step down. Should private beliefs be enough to prevent someone from heading a project they helped found?"
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Final Fantasy XIV Failed Due To Overly Detailed Flowerpots

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about 6 months ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "You might not remember Final Fantasy XIV, the Square Enix MMORPG that flopped so badly that Square Enix fired the original developers. But Square Enix certainly does, and at a recent GDC panel, producer Naoki Yoshida explained his views on what caused its failure. One reason? The focus on graphical quality over game play, leading to flower pots that required the same rendering power as player characters, but without the same focus on making the game fun to play. Along with severe server instability and a world made up of maze-like maps, he also sited the game being stuck in past, trying to stick with a formula that worked with Square Enix's first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there."
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Sony PSN User Accounts Hacked Again

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about 10 months ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "Remember the giant PSN breach from 2011? Well, it's happened again: Sony has reset all PSN passwords in the US and EU as a "precautionary measure." While Sony claims that the network itself wasn't hacked, users with strong passwords have found their accounts among the compromised accounts, having added money to their PSN wallets and then being used to purchase in-game items sold by other players. If you currently have your credit card linked to a PSN account, you might want to rethink that decision."
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Final Fantasy XIV Relaunches With Remote SQL Exploit

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about a year ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "You might remember Final Fantasy XIV as the MMO so bad that Square Enix fired the original developers and completed relaunched the game. Well, it's back as "A Realm Reborn," and already it's had severe server issues that caused them to stop selling the game. It's also back with a SQL server that allows unauthenticated SQL commands to be run directly. Yes, that's right: the game's Lua scripting can execute SQL commands directly on the MMO's database servers, including update commands. As you'd expect, this is leading to rampant cheating and item duping."
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Square Enix Admits Final Fantasy XIV Damaged Brand

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 2 years ago

_xeno_ writes "It's taken a year since Final Fantasy XIV launched to what can at best be called unfavorable reviews, but Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada is finally willing to admit that the (still subscription free) MMO "greatly damaged" the entire Final Fantasy brand. Despite this damage, Wada said that Square Enix will continue to work on "reviving" the game, with an upcoming patch promising to finally introduce such series staples as chocobos and airships. Even so, there's still no word on the PS3 release, which was delayed until the game was "fixed," nor is there any sign that Square Enix feels the game will be worth charging a subscription fee any time soon."
Link to Original Source
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PS3 Loses Another Feature

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 3 years ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "The PS3 may be running out of features to lose, but Sony is still finding them: the newest version of the console will no longer output Blu-ray movies over component cables. Right now this appears to be limited to only the newer models, but if you're using your PS3 to watch Blu-ray movies on a TV without HDMI, you may want to disconnect it from your network."
Link to Original Source
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Nintendo Announces New Console: Wii U

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 3 years ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "Nintendo has announced the official name for what had been known as "Project Cafe:" the Wii U. It is an HD console, it remains backwards compatibility with the Wii (it's unclear if this includes GameCube software), and the controller does, in fact, have a touch screen on it. Nintendo demoed moving a game off the TV and play it solely on the Wii U controller."
Link to Original Source
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"Fat" PS3s can't play games

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 4 years ago

_xeno_ (155264) writes "People owning the older "fat" PS3 models are being greeted with "error 8001050F" when trying to access the PlayStation Network. Unfortunately, thanks to trophies being a part of PSN, what should prevent online gaming prevents any game with trophies from being played at all — even those with no online portion. Attempts to play a trophy-based game, and certain downloaded games, cause the game to quit with an error. The problem appears to be clock related — the issues started on March 1st GMT, with the time on the console being reset to 0. Resetting the clock manually doesn't fix the issue — games still cannot be played. The best explanation of the problem can be found on the NeoGAF forums. Although the image posted there is incorrect: the older PS3s aren't limited to nothing, they'll still browse the web and play music and show pictures. They just won't play games."
Link to Original Source
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Illinois Passes MMOG "Ease-of-Cancellation"

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

_xeno_ writes "Ever wanted to cancel your MMORPG subscription, only to discover that you can't figure out how? After jumping through hoops to cancel his son's Final Fantasy XI subscription, Frank Edwards decided that enough was enough. He contacted his friend and local state representative, and asked for some legislative assistance. If you, too, can't figure out how to cancel an online subscription, you can always move to Illinois, where a new state law requires "gaming service providers" to allow you to cancel your account online."
Link to Original Source
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Sony Replaces 80GB PS3 With 80GB PS3

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

_xeno_ writes "Starting in early February, the $500 80GB PS3 bundle started disappearing from stores, prompting speculation that it was due for replacement. Sony has finally announced the new $500 PS3 bundle: an 80GB PS3. It's not completely the same, though: it will come with the Dual Shock 3 controller, returning rumble support to the PlayStation consoles. It will also be bundled with Metal Gear Solid 4, which is scheduled to be released mid-June along with this new bundle. Sony has yet to confirm that this 80GB PS3 will support any form of PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility, although with any other company it would be a safe bet that it would maintain the previous 80GB's software backwards compatibility. The linked article also gives the release date for the Dual Shock 3 controller in the US (April 15th at $55) and information on a God of War: Chains of Olympus red PSP bundle."
Link to Original Source
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Devil May Cry 4 Launches with 20 Min PS3 Install

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

_xeno_ writes "Devil May Cry 4 launches on Friday for both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Originally a PS3 exclusive, Capcom moved to mutli-platform after the PS3's original launch woes. It provides an example of the differences between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 experiences. And the major difference is the 20 minute install time on the PS3. Since the PS3 is guaranteed to have a hard drive and the Xbox 360 does not, you might think that Capcom is just taking advantage of the PS3's hard drive to reduce load times — but, sadly, that isn't the case. The 20 minute install time translates to, at best, a second less than the Xbox 360 load times. Capcom has responded, saying that the PS3 version will get "near Super Nintendo load times," despite reports to the contrary."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Modern Video Games and Rewarding Failure

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  about 6 months ago

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but a lot of modern (and by modern, I can really go back nearly two decades, which is kind of sad) video games have this annoying tendency to reward failure. When you fail at something, rather than letting you try again until you learn how to succeed, they instead make the game progressively easier. The idea is to prevent people from getting "stuck" and allow them to get to the end of the game. Of course, what it really does is prevent you from learning how to meet the challenges the game has and instead encourages you to simply keep on failing until the game gives up and just lets you win.

I really, really wish game developers would stop with that crap. I want to be given a challenge, the tools necessary to figure out, and then the chance to learn how to meet the challenge. I don't want games to just "let" me win because they've decided I'm too dumb to play them, which in turn is caused by them never giving me a chance to learn to play them properly.

Enough with dynamic difficulty. Enough with rewarding failure.

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iOS 5.1 Unleashes 4G on AT&T Subscribers: iPhone Battery Life Halved

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 2 years ago

When the iPhone 4S was released, people wondered why the new iPhone didn't support 4G. The answer is, apparently, that it does, it just wasn't enabled in software. This new update enables 4G support under AT&T. Along with that support comes absolutely abysmal battery life. Since running the update, my phone is now a little pocket-warmer. Three hours after my phone was charged to 100% after updating, my pocket is nearly on fire and the battery is now 50%. So I went looking for a way to disable 4G. You can't. I had to disable cellular data entirely.

But wait, there's more! Does the 4S really do 4G? Nope! It just lies about it.

Which means that the battery issue is apparently a new bug, entirely unrelated to lying about 4G, since the only actual change is that the iPhone 4S claims 4G under AT&T despite the fact that it's using the same 3G connection it's always used.

Of course, iOS 5.1 also claims to contain battery-life fixes that plagued the original iPhone 4S launch. Whoops.

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PS3 JavaScript Faster than IE7? Really?

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 5 years ago

You may have recently heard the story that a PS3 developer is claiming that the JavaScript in the PS3 is now "up to IE7 standards."

Sadly for Sony, this is something that sort of falls into the "testable" category. The JavaScript performance for the PS3 can be measured by a benchmark such as SunSpider.

Well, actually, no. bitops-bitwise-and causes a JavaScript error. The test is a loop that just does a bitwise and 600,000 times. The fact that the PS3 browser can't do a bitwise "and" many times in a row is just baffling, but there you have it.

controlflow-recursive actually crashes the console. Apparently you can't recurse too far in the PS3's JavaScript implementation.

Finally, string-base64 fails. Given the complete lack of debugging utilities for the PS3's browser, I have no idea why.

So I ran a local copy of SunSpider with those three tests removed. The final score is 98 seconds. Keep in mind that this figure is missing three tests.

That gives the following list of Browsers That Have Faster JavaScript Support Than The PS3 Browser:

  • Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox on any computer I have access to. (Not surprising.)
  • IE7 on an Intel Core2 Duo desktop.
  • IE7 on a 2-year old Intel Core Duo laptop.
  • IE7 on a 4-year old 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 laptop - after skipping the same set of tests the PS3 skipped. (Incidentally, the PS3 processor is clocked at 3.2GHz.) IE7 does terrible at the "string-base64" test, so skipping it really helps its score.
  • The Opera browser on the Nintendo Wii. (It scored about 50 seconds - but that's all tests.)
  • The Safari browser on a second generation iPod Touch. Well, after removing the three tests that the PS3 couldn't do, otherwise they match fairly well.

So, there you have it: Sony's PS3, about as powerful as a second generation iPod Touch. At least when it comes to their browser.

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Can't Cancel Your MMOG Subscription? Pass a New Law

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Some guy in Illinois can't figure out how to cancel his son's Final Fantasy XI subscription. Which is fair enough, I know how to cancel your account and I can't figure out how you're supposed to get that information from the Final Fantasy XI website (note: JavaScript required).

But in any case, after calling up customer service and being put on hold for about an hour, he finally succeeds. But he's still upset. So he complains to his state representative about the process, and his representative then proceeds to push through a law requiring "game service providers" to allow you to cancel online.

I'm somewhat torn. It seems kind of silly, especially because you apparently can cancel Final Fantasy XI subscriptions online. Just don't ask me how. I don't know. Last I checked you had to do it through the game software, which does make some amount of sense if you're playing one of the console versions.

On the other hand, it seems almost like something that should already be a law for any service provided online. If I'm allowed to sign up online, shouldn't I be allowed to cancel online? I already run into plenty of services that allow online account management, but stop short of actually allowing you to cancel online. Instead you have to call up customer support and be put through to an "account retention specialist" who attempts to annoy you enough that you decide it's not worth the effort of canceling. (AOL comes to mind for some reason...)

So why stop at "game service providers?" Why not require anything that can be subscribed to online and managed online to also be able to be canceled online? I mean, the whole point behind this consumer protection law is to prevent companies from basically making it impossible to cancel your contract. You shouldn't have to waste an hour of your time just to stop being automatically billed every month, whether it's for a video game or for phone service.

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iTunes Sucks, Vista Ultimate Doesn't In This One Case

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

So iTunes apparently decided to crap out and destroy its own library.

What does it do? It crashes on loading its XML backup, overwrites it preventing me from reimporting it, and then proceeds to wipe my iPod clean.

Leaving me with absolutely no way to restore my playlists. (Which I'd really miss, along with other things I'd like to have like the play counts and ratings.)

You'd think they could import the metadata from the iPod, but of course not. It just deletes everything.

Thanks a lot, Apple.

Thankfully Vista Business/Ultimate aren't useless, as they have a feature called Shadow Copy that automatically backed up an old copy of my iTunes library. (Sadly the interface for Shadow Copy freezes every five seconds for a minute at a time, but hey, at least it works. Well, for the most part.)

So for once, Vista actually saved me from crappy Apple software. What is the world coming to?

Unfortunately this feature is only available on Vista Business or Vista Ultimate. So if this happens to you on a Vista Home edition, you're screwed. On the other hand, if it happens on Mac OS X 10.5, you're saved, no matter what edition you use.

Shadow Copy should be a standard feature. (Especially for people like me who are a little too rm -rf happy.)

Oh well. That's Microsoft for you.

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New PS3 Model Coming Out?

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I've been looking into buying a PS3 recently (hey, I need to do something to pass the time before Super Smash Bros. Brawl is finally released...), and I've noticed that the 80GB PS3 seems to be disappearing.

It's no longer available from Best Buy. I asked a blue-shirt at a Best Buy if they had any 80GB PS3s. When they looked it up on the computer, I noticed that the "deleted" flag had been set on its entry. Apparently Best Buy no longer expects to carry 80 GB PS3s.

Other stores still carry it, so it could be that Best Buy is just out of stock, but I think they may know something the rest of us don't. Speculation is that a new 120GB PS3 model will be released "real soon now."

I'm wondering if the new PS3 might be released at the same time Devil May Cry 4 is released. It might make sense, since DMC4 is no longer a PS3 exclusive. They might be able to trick the press into equating DMC4 with the PS3.

Who knows. If we're lucky, and Sony is sane, this new PS3 model will come with a price cut. But given Sony's past, well, that seems to be a bit unlikely.

But I can hope...

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Why I'm Not Getting an iPod Touch

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

My journal entry was me explaining how I wanted something that Apple has essentially provided, the iPod Touch. So why am I not rushing out to buy one?

Well, partly has to do with the fact that they removed some of the things I listed that I'd want like the email client. But ultimately, it comes to this: largest version is 16GB, and my current iTunes library size is 20GB.

But assuming the next generation iPod Touch has a 32GB version, I'll be grabbing one when it comes out. It sounds like exactly what I'd want. Email support would be an added benefit, but not necessarily a requirement.

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I'll have an iPhone, minus the phone, please

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

With the recent announcement that the iPhone will include a custom YouTube application, my interest in the phone has increased 100%. Or 400%. Or 25%. Or -30%. They all wind up with the same initial and final value.

That's not to say I wouldn't want something like the iPhone, I just don't want the iPhone itself. In fact, if you remove the phone part and just leave everything else, I'd love to have that gadget.

Think about it. Strip out the phone part, and make it into a "widescreen iPod." The current 5G iPods already play video. Add in Wi-Fi, keep the browser and other apps, and you've got a device that can surf the web, read email, play music and videos; all in one handy little package. And, what the hey, keep the camera too. The only thing it can't do is be a phone - which is fine.

I don't want an all-in-one thing for my phone. I'd rather be able to use the phone-less iPhone as an iPod all day, draining its battery, while leaving my real phone to act as a phone, and only heavily drain it when receiving calls. I already don't use most of the extra features of my current phone. (This may seem strange, but my most common use of my phone is placing and receiving calls. Weird, I know.)

So here's hoping that the 6G iPods will be 80GB iPhones minus the phone part. (I'm also willing to lose the camera part for extra storage.) I'd buy one.

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Just Two Hours Into FFXII...

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

After a total of two hours of playing FFXII, I've apparently managed to screw up to the point it's no longer worth playing the game.

Apparently, if you open certain chests in the game, you lose the ability to get the best equipment in the game. One of these chests is very early in the game.

After opening, there's no point in playing any more. Just restart, it's done, you'll never be able to complete the game.

Someone has to explain to me why anyone would want to play a game like that?

I already put off buying this game until I found it in the bargain bin, but with crap like that, I'm already regretting buying it a mere two hours after starting to play it.

Seriously, what the fuck, Square-Enix?!

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Mac and PC: Mac gets upgraded to Leopard

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Mac: I'm a Mac.

PC: And I'm a PC.

Pull out to reveal tubes hooked up to Mac's head.

PC: You OK, Mac? What's with the tubing?

Mac: Oh, it's nothing, just getting read to upgrade to Leopard. Backing up the files in case something goes wrong, standard stuff, really. Unlike your upgrade to Vista, I don't have to worry about going under the knife like you did.

PC: [skeptically] Really?

Dinging sound.

Mac: Oh, hey, sounds like I'm ready to be upgraded.

Mac walks out of the scene. After a pause, a loud shotgun blast is heard. A New Mac walks into the scene, in the process of putting on Mac's clothing, which has been splattered with blood.

New Mac: Hi, I'm a Mac!

PC: And I'm a PC. Uh, what just happened over there?

New Mac: Oh, nothing much. Unlike PCs, it's easier to just replace a Mac when moving to a new system.

PC slowly backs away from New Mac.

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Amusing Bit about Microsoft's Security Initiative

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I recently attended a talk on Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle. I'm going to skip the usual Microsoft bashing, and most of the stuff talked about (if you really want to know more about Microsoft's SDL, read the book) and jump straight to the amusing statement made by the presenter.

One of Microsoft's biggest security problems has historically been Internet Explorer. People are well used to Internet Explorer having flaws, with some people going as far as to tell Windows users to use alternative webbrowsers.

One of the aspects of the SDL is that if a product hasn't successfully passed their security tests, they should delay the launch. With the release of Windows Server 2003 almost ready, Internet Explorer still hadn't passed Microsoft's internal security tests. So they had to make a decision. Looking at the target audience for Windows 2003 Server, they realized that the people using Internet Explorer on a server likely wouldn't need to be able to, as the presenter put it, "browse porn," and therefore set the default security permissions such that most websites would break (since scripting was disabled).

So, keep this in mind. If you plan on browsing for porn on Windows Server 2003, you aren't in Microsoft's target audience. You'll have to use a third-party solution for your porn browsing needs on Windows Server 2003.

Also makes me wonder what happened to allow Windows XP to be released if they considered Internet Explorer to be too broken to enable "unnecessary features" on for the launch of Windows 2003, but I said I'd skip the Microsoft bashing...

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Windows vs Linux Boot Time

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 8 years ago

So I recently switched my work laptop over to Linux, because Windows XP was running incredibly slowly. Now I know that the usual cause of "Windows XP is running incredibly slowly" is simply "spyware" but in this case, it's "corporate required spyware" (Norton Antivirus, asset tracking software, etc.). It's slowing the thing to a freaking crawl.

It turns out that there's an official way you can get out of having to run the asset software and all that other corporate software: run Linux. (This also gets you out of having a supported PC, but I can cope.)

So I installed Debian Testing on it. And the laptop boots much, much faster now. (We're talking a good two minutes to load everything versus something like 20 minutes under Windows. Not kidding.) It runs faster. About the only thing slower is that, for some reason, GNOME feels slower than Windows. (KDE too, but Debian defaulted to GNOME, and I haven't decided to change it yet. Eclipse and Firefox both use GTK+, so, I'm basically just using GNOME software anyway.) But it's really not that big a deal, because minor things like compiling and running the software are faster.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I have two machines on my desk, currently: the 2.2GHz laptop running Debian, and a 3.0GHz Xeon machine running Windows XP Professional. Guess which one boots faster? That's right, Debian gets me to the logon prompt first.

But there's an added bonus. Windows XP hasn't actually finished booting when you see the login prompt. It's still loading crap. By the time GDM starts, Debian has already finished loading all the various services it's running. The Windows XP machine hasn't. It's still grinding away, loading whatever it needs to load.

(To be fair, the Xeon machine takes longer to make it through POST than the laptop, and I'm currently counting POST time. However, if I counted until Windows XP finished loading stuff versus Debian finished loading stuff, it'd still lose.)

In the end, Debian just works better for what I'm doing. The one problem is that I'm missing IE, which means I have to still test things on the Windows XP machine. But other than that, for the work I'm doing, Debian is just flat-out better than Windows XP.

(Ignoring minor glitches, like the fact that Debian doesn't appear to support docking and undocking of a laptop, even with hotplug. Although I may simply not know how to configure that.)

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Slashdot Vendor Section?!

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 8 years ago

So I'm looking over my Slashboxes, and notice a new little box I don't remember, labeled " Vendors ." Vendors, hm? Clicky.

Apparently, as of today (January 27th, 2006) there is now an official section for Slashvertisements - the vendor section. So far, everything is from AMD.

Um. Yay?

I wonder how long it will be until those make it to the front page...

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_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Nothing interesting. Just wanted something different at the top of my user page.

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YAY! I GOT THE MOUSE TO WORK AGAIN!

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Well, after giving up on Linux for quite a bit, I've gotten around to reinstalling Gentoo Linux. I'm using a Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0 Wireless mouse, connected to the USB port.

I'm pleased to report that this time, using a USB keyboard and a USB mouse, I was able to get the system actually working. The mouse actually works this time! Apparently I was using the wrong USB module. :(

Now all I have to do is get the desktop up and running. But it looks like Firefox is working, so that's all good.

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Linux: It Doesn't Work (TM)

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 10 years ago OK, so I decide it's about time to take a look at the Linux desktop offerings again. It's been a while, so I reboot into my Linux system and very quickly discover a problem:

My mouse doesn't work any more. That's odd, because I haven't replaced it since I first installed the system, and it's a standard HID compliant mouse. My USB keyboard seems to be working fine, so I jump over to another virtual terminal and start attempting to fix it.

Well, I succeed in getting X to lock up hard when I restart it. OK, so I can't use the keyboard anymore. So I press the ATX power button in the hopes that Linux would be intelligent enough to trap this interupt and shut down the system cleanly. Nope: it just immediately powers off.

Oh well. So I continue mucking around with the configuration file. I still haven't gotten it to work. There's apparently no "auto-detect" option either - I'm expected to configure my mouse by hand. Uh, right. This is 2004. There's no excuse for me to have to configure an HID complaint mouse. Period.

For comparison, the installation proceedure to install the mouse under Windows 98+ (note: also works with MacOS since like 8 or so):

  1. Plug the mouse into a free USB port.

The same proceedure under Linux:

  1. Reconfigure your kernel with USB support and HID mouse support. Hopefully your distro already did this for you - if it didn't, it's time for a new one.
  2. Plug the mouse into a free USB port.
  3. Make wild-ass guesses as to where in /dev that mouse is now going to show up.
  4. Make wild-ass guesses as to what protocol XFree thinks an HID-compliant USB mouse is, since "auto" doesn't work and the documentation won't tell you.
  5. Hard-crash your system when you guess wrong.
  6. Restart, fsck, and make more wild-ass guesses.
  7. Corrupt your root file system, give up, and realize that Windows XP offers a far superior desktop experience where plugging in an HID-compliant device just works.

It's a USB mouse! It's worked in Windows since like 1997! It's not rocket science!

Not only that, but there's no reason I should even have to tell X about my mouse. It's an HID USB mouse - the system should be able to find it and use it with no user interaction - that's the entire point behind HID USB devices! You plug them in and the computer starts accepting input from them - what a concept.

I shouldn't need special drivers. I shouldn't need to configure X to recognize a USB mouse. I can understand if I'm using some random PS/2 mouse that uses a non-standard configuration, but it's a freaking HID-compliant mouse!

So, anyway, I never got to actually use any of the new desktop programs (since, apparently, they haven't bothered with something minor like keyboard interaction), so I have no idea if a working Linux desktop compares to a Windows desktop.

Of course, the fact that to get a USB mouse to work involves editting a random configuration file in /etc means it can't have come that far. It's "minor" things like this that convince me that Linux is never going to succeed on the desktop.

(For the pedantic: note that I cannot confirm that this wasn't really a problem with the way the Linux kernel itself handles USB. It really could be a true "Linux problem" - a problem with the Linux kernel itself.)

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Get Me To Subscribe... Make Slashdot Look Nice!

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 10 years ago You know what would get me to subscribe to Slashdot?

If Slashdot hired a site designer to fix the horrendous look and color scheme that Slashdot currently uses. It's actually painful. I've even had a dream about Slashdot using a nice new design, but alas, it never actually happened...

No one uses Netscape 4 anymore. Everyone has access to a better browser than that. We have Opera and Mozilla/Firebird, as well as everyone's favorite, Internet Explorer. Move into the modern web, please, Slashdot, and create a nice, visually attractive site that I don't feel the need to hide every five minutes to allow my eyes some time to rest.

Please, Slashdot, please... fix your design.

Although on a serious note, give us something more than just "ad free Slashdot" for subscribing. Honestly, I don't care about the ads. I don't really notice them anymore. Sometimes I actually am interested in the ThinkGeek ones (although I have yet to actually buy something). The *? Lame. Being able to read stories before they're "posted"? Not enough. (And limiting comments to just my friend list? No one reads this anyway, why would I want to do that?!)

Start a monthly subscription to a "nice" version of Slashdot, and then maybe, just maybe, I'll consider subscribing. As it is, there's really no reason for me to subscribe. Give a monthly subscription for a few bucks with actual reasons to subscribe (a Slashdot e-mail address, access to "special content," added functionality in the posts, infinite mod points in my own journal, anything), and then maybe I'll think about subscribing. As it is, I just don't see a reason to.

Oh, and here's an idea: stop logging me out every five page views. Fix that, and maybe I'll subscribe. I almost lost this journal entry thanks to that.

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Final Fantasy XI PC First Impressions - It Works Now

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 10 years ago OK, I start off on a sour note by trying to install off the FFXI disc and not the PlayOnline disc first. Oh well, easy fix - my bad, I didn't read the install instructions.

So I install PlayOnline and start the registration process. I'm most of the way through, and then the program crashes. Why? Well, because I hit ALT-TAB to view another program. OK, so I can't do that. Never mind that any modern DirectX game since DirectX 7 was released should be able to accept losing the graphics context.

After completely the registration process - a second time - and now I can finally start to try and play Final Fantasy XI. OK - it needs to "update" - kinda strange for a game that's been out all of three days, but whatever. I suppose things could have changed since it was RTM. It starts scanning through all 7,200 files, and after ten minutes or so starts the two hour download for all the updated files.

After an hour and a half, I discover that the download has failed part way through. So I restart it, and it has to scan all 7,200 files again. After another ten minutes or so, it continues where it left off, downloads three files, and fails again. Third times the charm, though - it makes it through the remaining 150 files, and finally starts "installing" the update.

So, three hours after I installed the game, I can finally play it. Ignoring the efforts that I made to get onto a specific server, which was my own stupid efforts, I finally get to start playing.

And the fog's backwards. Seriously - everthing near me is grey. I can't see anything except buildings that are far away. Nothing. After fiddling with graphics options for a couple of hours, I give up. (Not to mention the time I accidently logged off by having the gaul to hit the Windows key, which crashed the program because it lost full-screen mode. Give me a break.)

So here I am. I can't play the game because the world is just a giant grey screen with my character in the middle. I go online looking for help, and can't find any. The support is no help. So I have no idea what's wrong. The FFXI benchmark runs fine on my system - the high resolution is a little choppy, but acceptable for a movie (although not for game playing).

If anyone can tell me how to fix this, I'd love to know. Otherwise I just blew $50 and am 30 days away from blowing $14/month.

This is with a GeForce FX 5600 on a Windows XP system, if that matters to anyone. Buyer beware...

Update November 2: Disabling Bump Mapping fixed the fog issues (uh, ok, whatever), and allowed me to actually play the game for all of a minute before my computer crashed. *grumble*

Update November 11: Well, it hasn't been crashing since, and it seems to be a fun game. I'll just have to wait and see...

Update February 14: I've been really bad at updating this - I've been happily playing FFXI for the past four months and haven't updated it in ages. No more crashes - I dunno why.

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The Problem with BitTorrent

_xeno_ _xeno_ writes  |  more than 10 years ago If you've been reading Slashdot for any length of time, you'll have run across mentions of BitTorrent, a P2P content distribution system. Basically, it's a method of spreading the bandwidth allocation across multiple clients.

This is all well and good - BitTorrent is very useful to a content distributer since it moves bandwidth restrictions off of their server and on to those who want the file. It allows people to help share the burden of distributing something.

Unfortunately, BitTorrent is a little too good at utilizing clients bandwidth. In fact, it quite happily takes up all the bandwidth that it can. Since BitTorrent is an "always on" system (since it does uploads/downloads at the same time) it can easily completely fill up an Internet connection up to the bandwidth available on most PCs. Since most new PCs and modern networks use the 100Mbit/s standard, this makes it quite possible for a single BitTorrent user to completely flood most Internet connections.

The average broadband user has an internet connection of around 1MBit/s if they're lucky. Many larger sites (like educational institutions and buisnesses) will have connections with larger pipes, some of which may exceed 100MBit/s, but even if a site has a 300MBit/s connection to the Internet at large all that means is that three BitTorrent users can completely flood that connection. And with sites that require more bandwidth, more users can be expected, easily reaching the critical mass required to completely flood the local network.

To state it simply, BitTorrent is a bandwidth hog just like most other P2P services. And because of this, many sites have found it necessary to block BitTorrent to ensure bandwidth for other uses. (Blocking BitTorrent is fairly simple - you only need to block connections to the tracker, and then the system cannot connect to peers. The site I'm at blocks BitTorrent connections to/from peers.)

This defeats BitTorrent's purpose - actually making it cause the problem it was supposed to solve. (BitTorrent was supposed to allow a server to survive many users wanting the same file - but it instead swamps the local network, acting as an effective DDOS system against all other users on the network.)

The solution can be stated simply: BitTorrent needs to allow throttling. This is not an easy task, a router would need a software update to allow "intelligent" throttling of BitTorrent connections to a reasonable percentage of total bandwidth usage. If it were possible to simply tell BitTorrent that it cannot exceed a given download rate for a given network, then it could be safely unblocked without worrying about it flooding the network. (A given client can set a bandwidth cap for themselves - the problem is forcing all users on a network to set a reasonable cap. Some user will likely decide to remove such a restriction; other users might not know about the restriction when they start using BitTorrent for the first time.)

A better plan then might be to set up a "proxy" for a given network, creating a server on the network edge that handles BitTorrent connections out to the Internet and throttles them to a reasonable amount but encourages peers within the local network to utilize each other and not the Internet link. (This still has the problem of flooding the internal network, but bandwidth on an internal network is usually cheaper than to the Internet at large. This problem can be solved using internal infrastructure.)

The proxy solution is probably the best solution if it can do so transparently. This allows internal connections to remain at full speed and external connections not to flood the system. (At the very least, it creates a "choke point" where BitTorrent connections cannot progress beyond the bandwidth alloted to the proxy.) It also prevents clients from finding ways of circumventing controls on the network, since they are automatically routed through the proxy regardless of their actions.

There is another problem, though: the BitTorrent tracker sends "random" peers back to the client. For the proxy to work optimally, it needs to know about all clients on the network currently linked to a given tracker. This can probably be solved as well, given some sort of smart proxy.

BitTorrent is a worthy project and has a good goal. It is unfortunate that it has an unintended side effect of flooding the local network, and this problem needs solving in some fashion. If it can be done through the client, that would be great. However, unscrupulous people likely would try and maximize the bandwidth they receive, so a solution would most likely need to be forced upon all users so that all clients must obey the restrictions. If this problem is not solved, though, more and more sites will find it necessary to block BitTorrent to prevent their networks from being flooded by only a few computers.

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