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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

cstec Oregon IT mgmt was great (212 comments)

As a consultant I worked on Oregon's Medicaid system, directly with Oregon senior IT management. It was the first government work I'd done after swearing I never would again 20 years previous, for reasons many are familiar with.

It was shocking; those folks were top notch! No drama, no politics, no crap - just smart people who came to work to get things done, and did it well. I actually looked forward to meetings with the Oregon team because they were that sharp.

I can't say how many of those people might be there now, but knowing them they would have managed their successions too. If those folks think Oracle failed, not only did Oracle probably fail hard, but they will have that fail documented, down to every dotted i and crossed t. Those folks should have been working in the valley.

about a month ago

EU Secretly Plans To Put a Back Door In Every Car By 2020

cstec Re:Secret meetings: (364 comments)

Democrazy. You spelled it wrong.

about 8 months ago

CES 2014: Stefan Lindsay Demonstrates the gTar (Video)

cstec Wait for the app ban (104 comments)

How long before Apple decides they want to sell their own and bans the gTar app? They already sell instrument training via Garageband, so they might not even bother and just declare it competition banned already.

Suddenly, one hopes there are other phones with exactly those dimensions and same connector.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: MMORPG Recommendations?

cstec Dungeons & Dragons Online is the exact opposit (555 comments)

If LotRO is too mindless and dumbed-down MMOs are your bane, then head straight to DDO! It is easily the most complex MMO out there, free to play, and a a great deal of fun. Nothing comes close to the truly insane character customization it has.

DDO basically starts with D&D 3.5, so out of the gate you can have multiclassed characters. So unlike a typical MMO where you're a tank or a caster, in DDO you can literally play a fighter for 10 levels, play wizard for 6 more levels and then play 4 more as a cleric, and have the skills from all 3 at the same time!

From D&D you have the Feats selection, then on top of that, each class has multiple enhancement trees. Currently Wizard has 3 different trees, and you can choose enhancements from any of them. If you're multiclass, you can choose from ALL the enhancement trees for each class, and there's also a racial enhancement tree, so a single character could have as many as ten trees to choose from! And each race has it's own impact on your character as well.

But wait, there's more! Turbine's gone past level 20 ("epic levels") and characters also have epic destinies - yet another enhancement tree system. There are 8 of those, one for each class, but you can choose whichever you want, so you can be a lev 20+ fighter with the druid tree active! You can also also "twist" 3 of the skills from any tree into whatever you're doing, so your fighter can have druid enhancements, and twist in a couple rogue enhancements at the same time.

[shamwow voice]But there's STILL more![/shamwow] And, just because you don't want to be a cookie cutter build, you can also opt to kill your capped character and resurrect them, True Resurrection, which gives your character a permanent past life bonus. In fact you can 3 times .. per class! There is even a feat "completionist" for people who've played and TR'd as every character class. And there are truly insane people in the game who are trying to do that three times for every past life buff in the game.

Of course a fighter/wizard/cleric would be a pretty poor combination, and having druid active may not make sense. Nothing stops you from making a truly gimped character in DDO, and new players generally shouldn't multiclass, but a good way to see the insanity is to check out the DDOracle. It's currently out of date, but look at the what people are playing, in particular the top multiclass combos, and race/class combos. Note there's also a least common multiclass list as well, which is often amusing.

DDO does a good job of being D&D. It's quest oriented, not grind oriented, and XP is based on completion. One of my favorite features is the dungeon master - as you're crawling through a quest, there's a DM voiceover that adds a lot of D&D feel. The other thing DDO does is TRAPS! This is not WoW - dungeons have traps that can and will kill your character instantly on high difficulty. Respect the trap! Take a rogue. Or a cleric that can rez

What DDO doesn't get you is PVP. It's D&D - you versus the dungeons, monsters, pirates, demons, undead - anything but other players. There is an extremely limited brawling facility in taverns and that's it, and no griefing. Adventurers quest together, in parties (up to 6) or raids (up to 12). Evil alignment is not available - True Neutral is as evil as you can get. And everything is instanced, so only in public areas (towns, taverns) are you running past other players -- there are no WoW style 200-person fights around Tarren Mills.

DDO is free to play but there were two paid expansions. Simply playing the game earns you points that you can spend on expansion packs, and in theory you could play long enough and simply earn all the game content. In theory you might be playing when you're 80, too. There are enough points to earn that you'll get expansion packs, but in practice people generally buy at least a few as each pack gives more opportunities to earn points.

Looking over this, I realize it probably sounds insanely hard to play, and it's not. It's D&D. You can just get the client, roll up a paladin and start banging heads all the way to cap and have fun. But there's enormous depth to DDO, and that's what makes it fun. If you want to go farther, will be a bookmark. But gameplay here is a little different. In most MMO's you play the content, get sick of it, and then wait for new content. In DDO it's almost more like golf, where each quest is a golf course that you visit repeatedly, and the real focus is on your character and your game.

about 10 months ago

GPUs Keep Getting Faster, But Your Eyes Can't Tell

cstec Re:Author's poor interpretation of performance (291 comments)

"There is considerable debate over what is the limit of the human eye when it comes to frame rate; some say 24, others say 30,"

This! Apparently the author is Gen Y (Z?) and didn't live through the painful Hell that was 60hz monitors, which are well below human "framerate". 75 Hz generally fixed the brutal flashing for most people, but that was just for still images. For serious gaming, 100 Hz was finally getting there.

What's sad is how this impacts the dumbing down and slowing down of gaming over time. (Or is it the other way around?) Today's popular shooters are like bullet time compared to old titles, not worth discussing. Going backward from a more real gaming era, Unreal Tournament 3 was slower than UT 2K4/3, which was slower than UT, and so Quake 3, Quake 2, Quake, and finally Doom . Ah the glorious Doom! I shudder to think what this console generation would do in a deathmatch with typical Doom players - with no powerups, no invul, no way to assauge their egos except to have skillz and not suck. Good luck with that.

Of course the article also claims 1920x1080 is a standard. For a TV set, perhaps, or someone being cheap, but that's not a monitor - 1920x1200 is a PC monitor.

about a year ago

Come Try Out Slashdot's New Design (In Beta)

cstec Re:Oh yea, it's fantastic (1191 comments)

This is spot on. Maybe some designer told you that gutters are all the rage, but in an era where almost all monitors are WIDESCREEN, the amount of wasted space is epic.

Never let art students design your website or book. They're called 'coffee table' books because they sit on coffee tables not being read, looking pretty and missing the point.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

cstec Re:Not unless your son is a Vulcan... (682 comments)

Speaking as the parent of a former 4-year-old, I don't think this is going to work the way you imagine. You're better off getting an adult to help your son initiate a Skype call on a computer or tablet. A preschooler simply doesn't have the cognitive ability to read and respond appropriately to error messages and prompts

While I agree with the ultimate suggestion, the specifics here? Not so much. Some 4 yr olds are way, way past understanding a phone, Skype, or the physics of 2 cups and a string. It's just not that magical.

Perhaps OP's kid isn't in the zone. Most aren't, but we need to realize that some are and not hold them back.

about a year ago

Crowdfunding Platform For Drupal Development Launches

cstec Re:destined to (38 comments)

...But if 1% of us would donate 1% of our salary each month, we would rise $5.1M - enough to feed 96.2 full time developers...

Wow. That is delusional like you don't often see.

True, they aren't typically this cheap. Usually they want 10% of your salary to promise that everything will be swell after you die, as long as you followed their orders. This one's on sale.

about a year ago

California School District Hires Firm To Monitor Students' Social Media

cstec Stalking is still a crime (250 comments)

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

If "safety" is created by stalking, the price is too high.

1 year,4 days

Microsoft Will Allow Indie Self-publishing, Debugging On Retail Xbox One

cstec Xbox One (99 comments)

Too little, too late. It's not like anyone's forgotten their original intentions. We're multiplatform devs and Xbox One isn't on our list anymore.

about a year ago

What Keeps You On (or Off) Windows in 2013?

cstec Re:Because Linux users never buy anything (1215 comments)

The Humble Bundle statistics are not the only source that points to the direction that Linux users are more eager to pay for quality software. I seem to recall that the people behind World of Goo released similar statistics. Yes, here they are.

Thank you for making my point. According to your 2dboy article Linux users didn't buy more software, they made more donations. The word "sales" does not appear in their article. Donations are not sales, they're political statements, saving whales, bunnies, trying to scream "woo penguin power", etc.

Those don't translate into day to day sales for devs. And as long as Linux users won't pay for software, devs are stuck with Windows, consoles and OSX. But who knows? Let's watch Ouya and see how devs fare outside of Homebrew Channel ports and emulators running pirate ROMs.

about a year ago

What Keeps You On (or Off) Windows in 2013?

cstec Because Linux users never buy anything (1215 comments)

I'm a developer. Linux isn't a target because F/OSS users think that if one thing is free, everything is (or should be, or is when I copy it.) Thus Linux isn't an option, leaving Windows.

And no, I don't care about Humble Bundle averages. Those 'purchases' are political statements that don't translate to sales for actual developers outside the bundle

about a year ago

Sleep Deprivation Lowers School Achievement In Children

cstec Re:Ambient noise (272 comments)

...antisocial behaviour from the party set...

Wait, what? How many geeks have been harped on to get out, go to parties and see real people? Now the truth -- seeing other people is anti-social!

Guess it's back to playing violent video games with a million other people, the last vestige of polite society.

about a year ago

SpaceShipTwo Tests Its Rocket Engine and Goes Supersonic

cstec Re:Terribly Exciting - 10 years ago (103 comments)

And we want to live in a hostile radiation-blasted vacuum.... why, exactly?

To once and for all prove that Twinkies are immortal.

about a year ago

Triple Monitor Solutions From AMD, Nvidia Face Off

cstec It doesn't work. No game support. (75 comments)

I was a pioneer/advocate/addict of multimonitor gaming. To the point where back in the day when I got a deal on 22" Nokia high-res CRTs I bought three. I had my second on the desk and was going back for the third when I looked back and realized my desk was buckling under the weight of just two! After reinforcing the desk, XP era, it became obvious that multimonitor gaming was broken, because the resolution wasn't there to support it. What's the point of running 3 monitors if it's not 3 TIMES your normal res, which at 1920x1200, took quite a while to arrive. So I shelved it for a while.

Eventually, tech caught up and it struck me about 6 months back that I had the parts lying around to 5760x1200 the 24's and call it good. So I bought the adapter for #3, hooked it all up and prepared to rejoice. And there wasn't much rejoicing. Games just don't work.

What triple screen gaming even means is up for debate, but fundamentally, I think we all expect the extra screens to be more views on reality. More FOV, more of what we really see from our eyes in real life - wrap around video. Well, except it's NOT just FOV. Games need to be designed for it, and they're not.

I spent days running EVERY title I could. is a huge help for this. But in the end, the views in everything from Quake to Rage are unbearably broken. The best results by far were from Dungeons & Dragons Online, which looked almost good enough to keep, but Unreal Engine titles, ID engine titles, everything else - nothing worked without horrible distortion. At last I fired up Civ IV, thinking isometric viewing at least would work; not a chance, instead of seeing the world (wrapped!) in glorious high-res, I got a screen where the men in cities 75% were as tall as the screen, and a small fraction of the world was displayed!

DDO actually was pretty hot, but frankly the only truly multimonitor title may be Flight Simulator. And that's almost cheating - they just have more than one screen to display. But Eyefinity et al is DOA if there aren't titles that support it. Otherwise it's about as effective as piling all your speakers on top of each other and playing Master & Commander in 5.1. Enjoy the mud.

about a year and a half ago

WotC Releases Old Dungeons & Dragons Catalog As PDFs

cstec Get your binge on (224 comments)

This is the perfect excuse to read up, get your fix, then hop into D&D Online and get some tabletop action come to life. The client and a decent amount of content is free, and the DM voiceovers rock.

NOTE: This is Dungeons & Dragons Online, not WoW. There be TRAPS in dem dar dungeons, and they can and will kill you very dead!

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: 2nd Spoken/Written Language For Software Developer?

cstec French, and everything else (514 comments)

As this post is old, this is probably too late, but the first languages to learn are other programming languages. Then I'd suggest French.

Having been around the block enough times to leave a trench, at one point I tried to count the programming languages I've learned. It was well past 30, then. This may devolve into a discussion of what constitutes language, but at one point we were told, specifically, that Data General CLI was NOT a programming language, which my friends and I immediately proved wrong. (Who says you can't waste an entire file to hold a variable?)

I have learned endless variants of BASIC, awesome but specific stuff like Action!, Algol, Fortran, Lisp, Forth, Prolog, too many assemblys, binary for a couple of CPUs, the older Unix 'scripting' and preprocessor languages, Perl, PHP, Java, Javascript, dozens of others and a couple I developed myself. We'll just skip the meta-languages like jQuery & m4. My gawd, at one point I could even write complex configurations that worked!

What you really learn from other programming languages is different ideas, and the sad truth of it is basically every idea can be implemented in every other language. Languages are the flavor of the day. The 'one tool I would take to a desert island.' Some make it easier to do one thing or another, but in the end they all boil down to machine code. And it's all basically the same machine. 8 bits, 64 bits. SSDD. One's just more convenient. Languages lean different ways, and generally they all have at least one good idea or two. (Well, except for APL. ) But just learn everything. Eventually you get used to it, you take the ideas across languages and in your head it becomes The Language(tm). I don't even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead...

So what spoken language to learn? By all means, French.

Why? Well, French is unique in world languages in that the French are really, REALLY motivated to not let the language change. French is a pastime to the French like having lots of cars, guns and pounds is to Americans. As such, there's actually L'Académie française - an almost governmental organization to protect the language from language drift, with members appointed for life like the Supreme Court. They can all but outlaw words that aren't French, and as such, French is often the language of international law, because the meanings of words don't drift.

Think about that, programmer boy. Language without drift, only logical extension! That's like learning a C++ where your code works 3 revs to the compiler later. OMGWTFBBQ!

As has also been noted, French is awesome for ze sexy talkz. As we're discussing programmers here, get while the getting is good.

about 2 years ago

Guatemala Judge Orders McAfee Released

cstec McAfee should be a virus killing word (139 comments)

The really sad thing for us geezers is that we remember John's early posts on this whole 'virus' thing, back in the BBS days, when it was just him and no one knew what he was talking about at first. It would be difficult to overestimate how much good he has done the world.

about 2 years ago



The dangers of single-source app stores

cstec cstec writes  |  more than 3 years ago

cstec (521534) writes "As Apple and Microsoft drive to create OSes with vendor-store-only install policies, the dangers of owning one of those devices became readily apparent as Microsoft today abandoned the Windows Mobile Marketplace, even as new Windows Mobile devices are being sold. From today's MS email:

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site at will no longer be available starting on July 15, 2011. After July 15, 2011, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x phones via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site.

Without sideloading, this effectively instantly obsoletes a platform. At least Windows Mobile devices are safe — is yours?"


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