Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



Best 1990s Sci-fi show?

gatzke Lexx (476 comments)

What the hell was Lexx? I don't know, but I liked it.

about a week ago

Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid

gatzke Government website? (450 comments)

If the government wants us to pay taxes, why doesn't the government set up an online system so that we can pay our taxes without this added fee?

H&R block does it, Turbo Tax does it. The government still allows you to pay using magnetic tape.

about three weeks ago

Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

gatzke Re:this is ridiculous (440 comments)

How is it different? In both cases, the police are accessing publicly available visual information. In one case, you have officers and another a camera. Surveillance was not illegal before, but now it is? Can cops still sit and watch without a warrant?

Just do your illegal stuff in the privacy of your own home with the blinds drawn.

about a month and a half ago

Ralph H. Baer, a Father of Video Gaming, Dies At 92

gatzke Odyssey 2 was awesome- (47 comments)

I never saw the Odyssey, but the Odyssey 2 was a thing of beauty. When we were playing with our crappy Atari 2600, my buddy with a O2 had great graphics, analog joysticks, and a keyboard built in.

Too much golden age nostalgia!

about 2 months ago

Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

gatzke Re:They WILL FIght Back (516 comments)

Coal plants are beautiful - if you are a chemical engineer.

They don't chop up birds. They don't blind pilots. They produce energy basically 24/7.

about 2 months ago

Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9

gatzke Re:HTC (201 comments)

I will admit I hate that so much cruft is installed by default. They have this "Blink feed" crap that takes up a whole panel and there is no way to remove it. Not cool.

Then Verizon force-installs a bunch of crapware too. I don't want to spend time rooting my phone to purge that crap. Forced software installs are my only complaint on this phone...

about 3 months ago

Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9

gatzke HTC (201 comments)

HTC made some great stuff. Many times in the last weeks I have been asked how I like my new iPhone. I have a two-year old HTC One (m7).

But my old phone still has higher resolution than the brand new 6, higher DPI, more RAM, and working NFC. I assume the HTC One m8 is even better now, with a new version coming out soon.

I hope the 9 is great and gets HTC running full steam again.

about 3 months ago

The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

gatzke Re:WTF? (622 comments)

If you give nekkid pictures to a third party to keep for you and you don't even seal them in an envelope (encrypted?) is that a good idea?

If your security to retrieve your pictures back from the third party is a single passphrase, is that a good idea?

To some people, there is a big difference between a picture of a nekkid rear end and a full action shot. Are full detail graphic photos and movies a good idea?

about 4 months ago

Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

gatzke Re:Grades do mean something... (389 comments)

I agree, employers may miss out on some great people if you make cuts based on grades. However, you are playing the averages. A typical student with great grades will probably be a more effective employee than a straight C student (but not always).

Sure there may be some excuse for the bad grades, but employers don't want to hear excuses when you are working for them. They want you to complete your task effectively and efficiently.

I have seen "bad" students excel in the workforce. I have seen super brainiacs totally crash and burn. There are not surefire rules, but grades and test scores are just another piece of information about someone. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

about 4 months ago

Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

gatzke Grades do mean something... (389 comments)

There are always exceptions. Generally speaking, grades do indicate something. Sometimes good grades mean the student is very bright and picks up things rapidly. Sometimes good grades indicate a strong work ethic. Both of these are qualities that employers would want in future hires.

Along the same lines, good grades do not mean that you will be successful in the work environment. It is a first pass, enough to get your foot in the door. If the student can't follow through, get big complex jobs done, communicate effectively, and work with others they probably won't be very successful. Our academic system does encourage and promote some of those traits, but it could be better.

about 4 months ago

Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

gatzke Re:LibreOffice/OpenOffice still kind of suck (579 comments)

Yep. OO and Libre still have issues. I notice problems with lag, especially on presenter. Some oddness with text document formatting in writer.

I am a proponent of LyX for LaTeX stuff, but not everyone needs typesetting.

On the positive side, so much is going online via Google Docs and other cloud stuff.

about 5 months ago

Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet

gatzke Baseline power? (365 comments)

Sunny days they make tons of "free" electricity.

On cold dark winter nights, where does the power come from?

They can build backup plants that run on coal/gas typically operating under nameplate capacity or they can buy nuke power from the French.

Oh, the irony...

about 7 months ago

Which desktop environment do you like the best?

gatzke IceWM (611 comments)

Simple and it works.

about 8 months ago

Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

gatzke Re:Now it's the grid engineers' problem to solve.. (227 comments)

I am not a EE, but a 10 MW generator is not physically that large. I have seen giant flywheels that store a lot of energy and are spun up by a smaller motor on the other end running continuously (TUM / IPP fusion reactor energy storage near Munich). You could imagine putting something like that in to avoid fouling the power grid with 30 second 10 MW spikes.

I think the problem is letting a human connect these things. Maybe if you automate all the connections, similar to the Tesla battery swap stations? That and lifetime of the electrodes.


about 10 months ago

Italian Researchers Demonstrate 'Powerloader' Suit

gatzke 50 kg? (57 comments)

Dude, do you even lift?

about a year ago



Is slashdot.org/palm dead forever?

gatzke gatzke writes  |  about 2 months ago

gatzke (2977) writes "The cleanest interface for slashdot for years has been http://slashdot.org/palm but it now has not updated since Friday. It allows users to read articles and see five top comments. Is it dead forever, or just temporarily down? Should sites support small / simple interfaces? Are we being forced to beta?"
Link to Original Source

Google Car crashes

gatzke gatzke writes  |  about 6 months ago

gatzke (2977) writes "The Google Car supposedly has a great safety record while driving autonomously. It looks like they are not perfect, as one just caused a solid crash. Details are sketchy, but somehow the Google Car ended up going the wrong way on a one way street."
Link to Original Source

Lucas to Re-re-release Star Wars in 3D

gatzke gatzke writes  |  more than 4 years ago

gatzke (2977) writes "It looks like it is happening again. Lucas is headed toward another re-release of the entire six movie Star Wars saga in 3D. Phantom Menace first, then another each year. Maybe in another decade we will get the smell-o-vision version. Mmmm, Wookie!"
Link to Original Source

NRC Doctoral Program Rankings Released Today

gatzke gatzke writes  |  more than 4 years ago

gatzke (2977) writes "The National Research Council (NRC) today will release a study of doctoral research programs at over 200 US institutions. These rankings have been significantly delayed and may contain old data, as the report was scheduled for release in 2005. The report does not combine reputation-based and objective rankings, opting to provide both rather than some weighted value. Reportedly, the objective study uses approximately 20 metrics such as publications, citations, funding, composition of faculty, composition of students, time to PhD, graduation rate, etc. Also, the "objective" data is mostly self-reported by institutions."
Link to Original Source



Future of Video Games Outside the Home, DisneyQuest

gatzke gatzke writes  |  more than 8 years ago Background

I am a thirty-something engineer that grew up with personal computers. When I was in elementary school, I was learning BASIC while playing Atari games like Asteroids, Pong, and Night Rider at the arcade in the mall. Games improved around middle school, Pac-man, Centipede, Galaga, Spy Hunter, Donkey Kong and others were available at the local arcades. At that time my favorite dinner destination was the pizza place with animatronic animals and a huge arcade. My buddies and I even played games at the mall arcade in high school: altered beast, time warriors, and others. At college in the 90s, I would frequent the local gigantic bar / restaurant / pool hall / arcade that had a good variety of games, especially the linked Daytona Racing games where you could drink and drive safely.

I fell off he map for quite some time. Arcade games did not hold my interest. I blame the many Street Fighter variants, with all the buttons and secret moves. No longer could any idiot walk up to a game and have a good time. You had to dedicate a lot of time and effort to get anywhere in those games. The economics changed as well. Games started hitting two or three quarters, not just one. On the home front, I had first person shooters on my PC that were tons of fun and interactive. Why go pay a dollar per game just to get stomped on in public when I have a SLI Voodoo card at home that can run Quake at 1600x1200 on a 21 inch CRT? The home and console technology was outpacing what you could get at the arcade. The arcades dried up in most places, with a few games lingering here and there.

Recently, my wife and I discovered a couple of places that give me hope for the future of gaming outside the home again. DisneyQuest and MagiQuest.


A few years ago, my wife and I were at a conference in Orlando. We took an extra couple of days to see some of Disney. We happened across DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney near the Cirque du Soleil theater. Admission was expensive at over $30 per person for the day, but it ended up being worth it to me. Inside, you enter one of the best arcades ever, an arcade by Disney. All games are totally free after you pay admission. They had recent games like Crazy Taxi and Top Skater (note, on a recent return trip they have not added many obvious new games). They also had classic games like Asteroids, Moon Patrol, Space War, and BattleZone.

The real outstanding section for me were the VR games. They had an Alladin type game with a motion sensitive visor where you fly a magic carpet with intuitive controls. They had a superhero game where you get a motion sensitive visor and sword to swing at bad guys. If you have tried out recent VR helmets, you know the resolution is quite lacking and the motion sensing is not the best, especially technology from around 2000. Overall, these were fun but could stand some improvements in the basic helmet technology.

They had other VR / immersive games that did not require a helmet. They had a pinball game where you stand on a giant puck and try to direct your video puck into a goal by leaning left and right, while you play with others on a giant screen. They had a river rafting ride where you and others are on a rubber raft paddling in front of a projection screen while you get bumped around. They had Mech Assault type game where four people get in a pod and try to rescue some colonists while shooting aliens. One of the better games was a pirate game where you wear 3D glasses and man the cannons of a pirate ship surrounded by a few large projection screens. The design-you-own VR roller coaster made me sick, since I thought stacking as many loops and barrel rolls in a row was a good idea. The best game was the bumper cars, which was totally not electronic. You and a partner are in a plexiglass enclosed bumper car. One drives while the other mans a cannon to shoot nerf soccer balls at other cars. If the sensors detect a hit, you spin around for a few seconds. This was loads of fun, and you can usually run around and get on again if the crowds are light.

My overall impression was favorable, but I was not as enthusiastic after my more recent visit. The technology had not changed in four years, so you still had the old 3D visors. Some video game controllers were not getting the requisite repairs. Things were not as "Disney" as they could have been, but it was still fun.


My wife and I also went to try out MagiQuest at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach. We really did not know what to expect from their advertising. You get a "magic wand" for $11 and then buy time in the game at $8 per hour with discounts if you do two hours on the same day. The wand appears to be some combination of RFID, IR in the tip, and motion sensor. You pick a character class and a name, then go through training where they show you how to cast at items to evoke a response. Chests will open, lights will flash, or some event will be triggered by your wand. After training, you enter the game area which is a large room with different areas. At the center is a stone-henge type place where you go to choose a quest from a touchscreen and watch a related video. The first twelve quests are relatively simple treasure hunt type tasks that have you exploring the environment looking for different items. They have a castle with a few rooms, a dungeon area, a pixie treehouse, a crypt, and some other areas.

There are items all around that you can use the wand to interact with. Cast at a picture and it lights up, even if it is not on your current list of items to be found. Chests open and show jewels or gold. Some statues will talk to you. The first set of quests are fairly simple, with explicit locations and descriptions of the items, but it can still be tricky to find all the items. The game tests your memory, since you will have seen some objects while working on other quests. After you complete the basic quests, they have a series of adventures to work on. My wife and I completed the twelve quests in two hours working together. I would encourage you to do it on your own, but we were dragging a two year old and my wife is seven months pregnant.

The technology is pretty robust. Some sensors required a few casts to activate, but overall it was not frustrating. Most items are static and respond with sound and light. There are around fifteen different stations with projection screen, LCD, or CRTs that are more detailed with some video. Some of these are end locations for quests where a character gives you a rune as reward for a completed quest or someone tells you a story. Some of these stations are apparently part of the more advanced adventures where you have more involved games to try out. They have a dragon and a goblin in the dungeon, but they also have lighter fantasy creatures like a unicorn and a fairy princess.

The environment is fairly immersive. The interactive items are generally embedded pretty well into the environment. The dungeon was my favorite, as you get the feeling of a realistic dark environment. The castle was pretty good, but it was mostly open to the gaming area with only a few rooms. Most of the game is wide open, where you can see all around, including the false sky. This is probably good for the general population, but it does not throw a gamer completely into the fantasy world (which may not be a bad thing). I would like to see a dark forest with shaded canopy and a main street with some interactive stores to explore and lower player density. Overall, it was never crowded, and things were smooth even with a large number of people running around.

There are other details to the game if you really get into it. They keep track of your gold and award you crappy prizes if you want. You get experience and levels, but I am not sure how that helps you. They have a dueling station where you can battle other Magi by choosing spells to use. They have extra crap you can buy to decorate your wand. They also have some extra tokens (compass and key) you can buy to increase your take of gold or give you clues in the game. The game is fun for both adults and kids, both serious gamers and those looking for something other than mini golf. It could be costly if you have a few kids to take in, but not bad after you get past the wand purchase. They also have parent spectator discount cards (first hour full price, second half off, free after)

I tried to search online for information, but it took me a while to realize I was searching for magicquest / magickquest / magic quest, not magiquest. You are a Magi in this game, and I have not seen how your character class influences your game.

Overall, we had a great time and want to go back soon. It is rough to take away beach time to go run around waving a plastic wand at treasure chests, but the game gets to you.


If you are in Orlando or Myrtle Beach, you may want to try these games out. Maybe the economics will work out and they could put them in local malls to get kid out running around again. It certainly is more complicated than buying a space invaders box and harvesting money from kids, but maybe the market is there.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?