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Updated: 1 week 3 days ago

The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4

Sun, 18/05/2014 - 07:14
An anonymous reader writes "The Last of Us was one of the last major projects for the PlayStation 3. The code optimization done by development studio Naughty Dog was a real technical achievement — making graphics look modern and impressive on a 7-year-old piece of hardware. Now, they're in the process of porting it to the much more capable PS4, which will end up being a technical accomplishment in its own right. Creative director Neil Druckmann said, 'Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3's SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again. I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different. We want to stay faithful while being better.'"

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Static Electricity Defies Simple Explanation

Sun, 18/05/2014 - 04:10
sciencehabit writes: "If you've ever wiggled a balloon against your hair, you know that rubbing together two different materials can generate static electricity. But rubbing bits of the same material can create static, too. Now, researchers have shot down a decades-old idea of how that same-stuff static comes about (study). '[The researchers] mixed grains of insulating zirconium dioxide-silicate with diameters of 251 micrometers and 326 micrometers and dropped them through a horizontal electric field, which pushed positively charged particles one way and negatively charged particles the other. They tracked tens of thousands of particles—by dropping an $85,000 high-speed camera alongside them. Sure enough, the smaller ones tended to be charged negatively and the larger ones positively, each accumulating 2 million charges on average. Then the researchers probed whether those charges could come from electrons already trapped on the grains' surfaces. They gently heated fresh grains to liberate the trapped electrons and let them "relax" back into less energetic states. As an electron undergoes such a transition, it emits a photon. So by counting photons, the researchers could tally the trapped electrons. "It's pretty amazing to me that they count every electron on a particle," Shinbrot says. The tally showed that the beads start out with far too few trapped electrons to explain the static buildup, Jaeger says.'"

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Meet Canada's Goosebuster Drone

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 19:48
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tyler LeBlanc reports that Ottawa has a problem — a goose problem. Every summer the wandering waterfowl return to the beaches that line the Ottawa River leaving high concentrations of geese poop on beaches and in shallow water, which can lead to outbreaks of infection in human populations, particularly children. In the past, the city has tried a number of different methods of ridding their beaches of the geese, but this year, they are going high-tech. Steve Wambolt, the founder of Aerial Perspective, modified a drone with some flashing lights and speakers and took to the skies. 'I took existing land-based anti-pest technology and put it on a helicopter,' says Wambolt. 'When I tested it at the beach a few days later it worked remarkably well.' Using pre-recorded predatory calls (video) from hawks, eagles, owls, ravens and even wolves, Wambolt stalks the beaches of Petrie Island in an attempt to scare the loitering geese away from the area for good."

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Robbery Suspect Tracked By GPS and Killed

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 18:46
New submitter Lew Lorton notes a NY Times story about a thief in New York City who was tracked and located using a GPS device inside a decoy pill bottle he had stolen (along with other pill bottles) from a pharmacy. When police confronted the thief, he raised a gun to shoot at an officer, and was killed "The decoy bottles were introduced last year by the police commissioner at the time, Raymond W. Kelly, who announced that the department would begin to stock pharmacy shelves with decoy bottles of painkillers containing GPS devices. The initiative was in response to a sharp increase of armed and often deadly pharmacy robberies across the state, frequently by people addicted to painkillers. ... The bottles are designed to be weighted and to rattle when shaken, so a thief does not initially realize they do not contain pills. Each of the decoy bottles sits atop a special base, and when the bottle is lifted from the base, it begins to emit a tracking signal."

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Understanding an AI's Timescale

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 17:40
An anonymous reader writes "It's a common trope in sci-fi that when AIs become complex enough to have some form of consciousness, humans will be able to communicate with them through speech. But the rate at which we transmit and analyze data is infinitesimal compared to how fast a computer can do it. Would they even want to bother? Jeff Atwood takes a look at how a computer's timescale breaks down, and relates it to human timeframes. It's interesting to note the huge variance in latency. If we consider one CPU cycle to take 1 second, then a sending a ping across the U.S. would take the equivalent of 4 years. A simple conversation could take the equivalent of thousands of years. Would any consciousness be able to deal with such a relative delay?"

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Biggest Dinosaur Yet Discovered

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 16:37
An anonymous reader quote the BBC: "Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say. Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus. Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur — an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period. A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 250km (135 miles) west of Trelew, Patagonia."

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Pentagon Document Lays Out Battle Plan Against Zombies

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 13:23
mpicpp sends this news from CNN: "Never fear the night of the living dead — the Pentagon has got you covered. From responses to natural disasters to a catastrophic attack on the homeland, the U.S. military has a plan of action ready to go if either incident occurs. It has also devised an elaborate plan should a zombie apocalypse befall the country, according to a Defense Department document obtained by CNN. In an unclassified document titled 'CONOP 8888,' officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes."

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Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

Sat, 17/05/2014 - 00:25
Nemo the Magnificent writes: " Everybody knows software development is a young man's game, right? Here's a guy who hires and manages programmers, and he says it's not about age at all — it's about skills, period. 'It's each individual's responsibility to stay fresh in the field and maintain a modern-day skillset that gives any 28-year-old a run for his or her money. ... Although the ability to learn those skills is usually unlimited, the available time to learn often is not. "Little" things like family dinners, Little League, and home improvement projects often get in the way. As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.' A company that actively works to offer all employees the chance to learn and to engage with modern technologies is a company that good people are going to work for, and to stay at."

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Ouya's Unsung Strength: Multiplayer For Parties

Fri, 16/05/2014 - 23:43
An anonymous reader writes: "Ouya, the Kickstarted, Android-based gaming console, had a much easier time selling people the idea of a mini-console than selling people on the console itself. Once people got over the excitement of seeing an indie console break into the market, they asked, 'Wait, why would I want to play Android games on my living room TV?' Almost a year has passed, and we're finally seeing an answer to that question: party gaming. It's one thing to play a console against your friends online, but when you get a bunch of people in the same room, most console games are too deep and complex to just pick up and play in a fun, semi-competitive way. The person who owns the fighting game is going to mop the floor with everyone else. Mobile games, on the other hand, are often incredibly simple, and Ouya forces every game to have a free trial, so you can easily weed out the ones that aren't good for groups. For example: 'In Hidden In Plain Sight, your character is one ninja lost in a sea of CPU-controlled ninjas with exactly the same texture. In the first few seconds, you have to walk left, right, up, down, anything that will let you understand which of the characters on the screen is yours. Once you've got that, you have to figure out your opponents. Any move that doesn't look like is performed by the AI could give you away.'"

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Measles Virus Puts Woman's Cancer Into Remission

Fri, 16/05/2014 - 23:00
clm1970 sends news that researchers from Mayo Clinic have successfully put a patient's cancer into remission using a modified measles virus. The researchers are quick to note that further trials are needed to determine whether these results are repeatable. Here are the two academic papers. "Multiple myeloma in a 49-year-old woman seemed to disappear after she received an extremely high-dose injection of a measles virus engineered to kill the cancer cells. Multiple myeloma affects immune cells called plasma cells, which concentrate in the soft tissue, or marrow, inside bones. A second woman also with multiple myeloma began responding to the therapy, but her cancer eventually returned. Four other patients who received the high-dose therapy had no response. .. [Dr. Stephen Russell] and colleagues believe the two women who showed some response had few or no circulating measles antibodies, which might eliminate the engineered virus before it has a chance to kill the cancer cells. The therapy will now enter a mid-stage trial to see whether more patients with low circulating antibodies respond to high-doses of the virus, he said."

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Embedded Devices Leak Authentication Data Via SNMP

Fri, 16/05/2014 - 22:18
msm1267 writes: "Researchers have discovered previously unreported problems in SNMP on embedded devices where devices such as secondary-market home routers and a popular enterprise-grade load balancer are leaking authentication details in plain text. The data could be extracted by gaining access to the read-only public SNMP community string, which enables outside access to device information. While only vulnerabilities in three brands were disclosed today, a Shodan search turns up potentially hundreds of thousands of devices that are exposing SNMP to the Internet that could be equally vulnerable."

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Should Tesla Make Batteries Instead of Electric Cars?

Fri, 16/05/2014 - 20:48
cartechboy writes: "Tesla seems to be doing quite well these days, but one bond trader thinks the company should quit making electric cars and focus efforts on making batteries instead. Bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach says he's already tried to meet with Elon Musk to persuade him to take the battery-only route. Speaking to Bloomberg, he said Tesla could be 'wildly transformational' in the same way electricity and electromagnets were at the advent of their discovery. Enough people are interested in Tesla's vehicles that Musk probably won't take Gundlach's advice. Should he?"

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