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!
gmezero (4448) writes "I've been doing 100% completion passes on some video games recently that I've already solved, so I'm not worried about spoilers. To this end I've been referring to various video game FAQs to make the process a little more efficient. My question is, which is better for the environment: having the FAQ open on a webpage on a laptop plugged in next to me while I play or printing out a hard copy of the FAQ to paper. On the surface the laptop seemed to be a no-brainer since it's not wasting paper, but is it really? Even if I recycle the paper?" top
gmezero writes "ERA Real Estate recently opened up a new search engine that appears to aggregate data from lots of public resources to complement their property search tool. If you dig into the search and drill down to any given property you can now find information related to the Zip Code for that house such as General Debt information, average number of cars owned, number of white collar workers, basic crime stats, etc... While I appreciate the empowerment this gives people shopping for homes it also makes you confront the reality of the staggering amount of demographics that a company can easily collate on people with modern technology. Put this together with sites like Zillow and I can't imagine you need anything else." Link to Original Source top
gmezero writes "It's been over two years now since I finally became so fed up with Wikipedia that I finally had to start editing, and from then on I have become embroiled in an ongoing love hate relationship with the site. Actually, in hind-sight, it's probably less of a hate the site issue, and more of a hate the clueless and opinionated, so called WikiCops, that more often than not detract from content quality.
One of my chief complaints is the abuse of the issue of relevance. This one ranks up there at the same levels of disgust as people who have received a college degree and actually think they are now an authority on a subject when they've never even worked in the field.
What has brought me to this article though is first hand experience with Wikipedia amnesia. The notion that if a dozen people who are zealots on a given subject matter decide that since they have not heard of something, then it must not be relevant to the world.
This is fast becoming a problem for Internet only history from the early 1990's for one as nearly all of the websites that might be used to reference events, have in many cases long disappeared from existence before 1996, when Archive.org initially started it's woefully incomplete collection of websites online at the time. So unless it managed to transfer over to the print world, or rise to a high level of visibility in the UseNet, a sole voice trying to preserve an important element of history becomes irrelevant in the eyes of the WikiCop.
I have also noticed that as Internet users age, they're usage patterns change as well. When people are younger they tend to be more active in Social Media projects. As they get older, they gravitate back to a few communities that have persisted with them, or drop back into a more passive, consumption mode due to the burdens of everyday life. This has resulted in a large number of Internet users who; A) have no familiarity with the early web because they either weren't an early adopter or aren't old enough to know; or B) have moved on in their life and are not aware that their personal experiences and knowledge have value to the collective of society as a whole.
My fights within the video game related pages of Wikipedia if nothing else have given me strong cause to question the quality and validity of all of the material on the site.
One personal case in point is the very page that brought me in to the wiki, and as I write this, continues to be a battle ground: "Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar". In April of 2005 I added to items to this page. I significant piece of historical trivia, and links to unofficial textfile based maps of the game that were distributed when the game was officially released.
I eventually gave up the fight over the trivia as it wore me down, and someone eventually promised to make a trivia specific page to hold the data. Of course since most WikiCops are about 12 years old from best I can tell, none of them understand the relevancy of trivia, and I finally caved. It disgusts me, but there it is.
The second item, and more contentious in my mind though is the t-files links.
Unfortunately I have a personal relationship with the content in the files, which weakens my case and brings me back to the "relevance" issue.
In the early to mid 1980's I was an Apple// software pirate, and I had reached a level of distribution access where I was frequently second in line in the food chain of distribution (the first being the cracker or their friend that made the first upload to the team's home transfer site). It was during this time that I collected a final version of Ultima IV before its commercial release. I had been a long fan of the Ultima series having purchased II and III and I had IV on pre-order at the time because I just couldn't resist the cloth maps.
Anyways, as I had already authored quite a few game maps by that point for many of the early Infocom titles, I took it upon myself to make a complete map of the overworld of Ultima IV so I could release it in time for the game's commercial release. I mapped while awake, and distributed U4 while I was asleep, and somehow squeezed high-school in between the hours. And then, at the allotted hour I bundled up the maps and began uploading them at the top of the distribution chains... By the sixth site I called, the maps had already started cross-propagating, and my work was done. Not but a year later I myself dropped out of the scene, but from then on I enjoyed meeting people across the country (other Apple gamers, as well as IBM and C64 players) who not only had downloaded my maps, but also, by design, had printed them out and hung them on their wall. Even I was surprised at how many people in the oddest of places seemed to have seen the files.
So here we are going into the later half of the 2007, and how many of you, my dear reader were involved in the Apple gaming community in the 80's? Let's be honest... statistically? Not that many of you. How many of you were more than casually involved in software piracy in the 80's? Probably even less that the previous number. And how many of you kept the text files you downloaded and not only saved them, but actively format/platform shifted it over the years so as not to loose them? Let's guess, about 10 of you right?... or wait, that's 11 if you count me.
Currently Jason Scott's TextFiles archive has grown to become the definitive source for files like this though, so am I to think that since he doesn't have a copy of my maps on his site that somehow they weren't relevant? Hardly, my personal collection of textiles from those days totals over 1500 at my best estimate, and I know from a cursory scan that I have many files that Jason doesn't. I'm going to bet that someone else out there also has a large collection that varies from both of ours as well, but Jason's is the only one collated an online, so does that make it the only valid source? Why haven't I sent mine to Jason? Well, I would like to clean up the file naming, and purge any duplicates first... and I'm to busy fighting with WikiCops on Wikipedia to actually get that done.
So my dilemma. The Ultima IV world maps I created were highly relevant to a specific demographic of gamers in the late 1980's and they are still useful to this very day to players of the game, so since it was highly unlikely anyone else was going to do it, I took it upon myself to host the files and link them into the article where they persisted for two years, unchallenged through over 100 edits until an anonymous IP user decided to clip them from the page. After which the WikiCop Xihr decided that it could not be re-added to the page as he decided it was linkspam.
There is no other host for this 20 year old text file. The wiki links go directly to the original un-edited files. There are no links on the pages. There are no ads on the pages. There is not even links to the other files available from each file. The site the files are hosted on is not a commercial site.
So, how does one resolve this situation. Do I sit back and concede to this WikiCop? Do I do the more distasteful thing in my mind of contriving another host for the files and ask a friend to reinstate the links to the new host (as is a very frequent activity in Wikipedia).
What would you do? The sad part is that I have many times found myself at the reading pages pages that I would love to contribute to as an authority or expert on the subject matter but due to the behavior of clueless high-school and college kids, or worse yet the guy who bitches about girls with sharp knees needing a sandwich... and my contribution ends up becoming a daily fight of education for those that care to listen that just wears me down. If I go away for a couple of months, I have to start back over because the burnout rate of people with a clue that care is so high they've eventually quit the site in disgust themselves.
I'm becoming of the mind as many others around me have already stated that Wikipedia is itself the most destructive and least relevant utilities for knowledge accumulation, and that truly makes me sad, because it really could be an invaluable resource in all matters.
Should I bother, or just brush my hands and walk away?" top
gmezero writes "Hamlet Au writes about his recent visit to a virtual recreation of the Earth within Second Life built entirely from Sculptie prims and featuring a real-time cloud layer to track weather around the world. This mashup features data from several sources including NASA's Blue Marble, and live cloud data from satellite tracking feeds. This installation provides a dramatic view on how weather patterns interact with the Earth's topology. A short video is also provided as a preview to the build." Link to Original Source top
gmezero (4448) writes "A very funny blog post examining the issue of infinite development time as a risk when you have a vampire as a developer who can live forever, and why even in that case a good system for managing completion time on a project is still critical. Not just topical for Halloween:)" Link to Original Source