Pecisk writes "While PC game development veterans are using Kickstarter more and more for their projects (see the already successful Star Citizen Kickstarter project, which already went home with $2 million, or Elite: Dangerous, a sequel of classic space sim series, which has yet to reach its set target), questions arise: why are devs trying this rather risky way of financing, anyway? For a long time there's also been discussion on Slashdot and elsewhere of game publishers like EA have a preference for unlimited sequels (e.g. the EA Sports series). David Braben, one of creators of first classic 3D space sim, Elite, and its sequels, and also the popular Raspberry PI board/computer, has commentary on that: 'Publishers had and still have now, established processes and a key part of that is the forecast ROI or return on investment. For that to work there has to have been a sufficiently similar game in the near past to base the forecast upon Anything else will be "too risky."'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hypnosec writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that the cheaper variant of the Raspberry Pi — the Model A — has entered production phase. Model A of the credit-card sized computer has been stripped of its Ethernet port and a USB port, leaving just one USB port. This model comes with 256MB RAM, but as it is less complex compared to its predecessor it will consume less power, thus opening up quite a few new usage scenarios. The Foundation has posted the first image of the $25 Model A on its site and noted 'We're anticipating that those of you who buy the Model A will be using it for different applications from Model B owners.'"
bellwould writes "In teaching information tech to a 13-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I've found she's wildly interested in the details of data transmission but not programming. We've had limited success with command-line tools like traceroute and tcpdump, but now I'm seeking tips/advice on software that may help her explore and visualize things like transmission protocols." What would you recommend?
sfcrazy writes "Ouya has stuck to its deadlines. The team has posted an update on the official blog that the units will start shipping on the scheduled date of December 28th. These units are for those developers who backed the project on Kickstarter. There is some surprise for developers with this console. 'What we didn't tell you was that the advance dev consoles you ordered are pretty special – you'll know what I mean when you open yours. They're rare drops. :P,' says the official post."
darthcamaro writes "Unlike every other major browser vendor, Mozilla today does not allow users to have their private mode browser window open at the same time as a regular browser window. That's now set to change. This is a flaw that has been in Bugzilla since 2008 and has been the subject of heated discussion for years."
dcblogs writes "The U.S. Dept. of Energy has set a goal to develop battery and energy storage technologies that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within five years. DOE is creating a new center at Argonne National Laboratory, at a cost of $120 million over five years, that's intended to reproduce development environments that were successfully used by Bell Laboratories and World War II's Manhattan Project. 'When you had to deliver the goods very, very quickly, you needed to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines to get very focused,' said U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, on Friday. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research isn't designed to seek incremental improvements in existing technologies. This technology hub, according to DOE's solicitation (PDF), 'should foster new energy storage designs that begin with a "clean sheet of paper" — overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost.' Other research labs, universities and private companies are participating in the effort."
An anonymous reader writes "Ars is running an article about a paper written just over a decade ago by four engineers at Microsoft. In it, they talk about the darknet, and how it applies to distributing content online. They correctly predicted the uselessness of DRM: 'In the presence of an infinitely efficient darknet — which allows instantaneous transmission of objects to all interested users — even sophisticated DRM systems are inherently ineffective.' The paper's lead author, Peter Biddle, said he almost got fired over the paper at the time. 'Biddle tried to get buy-in from senior Microsoft executives prior to releasing the paper. But he says they didn't really understand the paper's implications — and particularly how it could strain relationships with content companies — until after it was released. Once the paper was released, Microsoft's got stuck in bureaucratic paralysis. Redmond neither repudiated Biddle's paper nor allowed him to publicly defend it.' The paper itself is available in .DOC format."
coondoggie writes "It seems well past time that the U.S. ditch its $1 bill — considering such a move could save the country somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion. But there is much resistance, or perhaps a lack of real consideration of the issue from most people. Watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office this week testified before a Congressional hearing on the topic, and said dollar coins could save $4.4 billion over 30 years (PDF), or an average of about $146 million per year."
Zothecula writes "Researchers at the University of Warwick have created a cheap plastic composite that can be used even with low-end 3D printers, to produce custom-made electronic devices. The material, nicknamed 'carbomorph,' is both conductive and piezoresistive, meaning that both electronic tracks and touch-sensitive areas can now be easily embedded in 3D-printed objects without the need for complex procedures or expensive materials."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A massive outage knocked Syria's Internet offline Nov. 29 — with the exception of five servers implicated in serving malware earlier this year. But the next day, those five servers went dark as well. Internet analytics firm Renesys suggested late Nov. 29 that those five servers were likely offshore. 'Now, there are a few Syrian networks that are still connected to the Internet, still reachable by traceroutes, and indeed still hosting Syrian content,' the company wrote in a blog post. 'These are five networks that use Syrian-registered IP space, but the originator of the routes is actually Tata Communications. These are potentially offshore, rather than domestic, and perhaps not subject to whatever killswitch was thrown today within Syria.' By the morning of Nov. 30, those five servers went offline. 'The last 5 networks belonging to Syria, a set of smaller netblocks previously advertised by Tata Communications, have been torn down and are no longer routed,' Renesys wrote." CloudFlare has a blog post confirming that the Syrian government was responsible for flipping the switch, contrary to their claims. Meanwhile, Anonymous has started targeting the Syrian government's remaining websites and helping to get communications channels flowing out of Syria. Google is reminding people of its Speak2Tweet service, which lets people post to Twitter through voicemail over still-functioning phone lines.
Volanin writes "I have been using Linux for the last 15 years both at home and at work (mostly GNOME and now Unity). Recently, I gave in to temptation and bought myself a Macbook retina 15". As you can read around, Linux still has no good support for this hardware, so I am running it inside a virtual machine. Running in scaled 1440x900 makes the Linux fonts look absolutely terrible, and running in true 2880x1800 makes them beautiful, but every UI element becomes so tiny, it's unworkable. Is there a desktop environment that handles resolution independence better? Linux has had support for SVG for a long time, but GNOME/Unity seems adamant in defining small icon sizes and UI elements without the possibility to resize them."
An anonymous reader sent word that astronomers have discovered an absolutely enormous black hole residing in a galaxy that seems too small for it. In a new study (PDF), researchers looked at galaxy NGC 1277 and found that its central black hole weighed in at roughly 17 billion solar masses. Quoting Phil Plait: "The problem is, that’s far more massive than the central bulge of NGC 1277 would suggest the black hole should be. It’s well over half the total mass of the bulge! In fact, the entire mass of the galaxy is about 120 billion solar masses, which means the black hole at its heart is 14 percent of the total galaxy’s mass; compare that to the Milky Way’s black hole mass of 0.01 percent and you’ll see why astronomers were shocked."
judgecorp writes "The British Pirate Party has been asked by the music business organisation BPI to pull the plug on the Pirate Bay proxy it has been running. The Pirate Party provides a way round the court-ordered ban on ISPs providing connections to the file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay. So far the Pirate Party says the proxy is a 'legitimate route' to the site, but the BPI says the Pirate Bay is 'not above the law.'"
nonprofiteer writes "This is a crazy story. An FBI agent put spyware on his kid's school-issued laptop in order to monitor his Internet use. Before returning the laptop to the school, he tried to wipe the program (SpectorSoft's eBlaster) by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged. It somehow survived and began sending him reports a week later about child porn searches. He winds up busting the school principal for child porn despite never getting a warrant, subpoena, etc. The case was a gift-wrapped present, thanks to spyware. A judge says the principal has no 4th Amendment protection because 1. FBI dad originally installed spyware as a private citizen not an officer and 2. he had no reasonable expectation of privacy on a computer he didn't own/obtained by fraud."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The rate decreased to 63.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age — a little more than half of its peak, which was in 1957. The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, but the decline is being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. Overall, the average number of children a U.S. woman is predicted to have in her lifetime is 1.9, slightly less than the 2.1 children required to maintain current population levels. Although the declining U.S. birthrate has not created the kind of stark imbalances found in graying countries such as Japan or Italy, it should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, says Roberto Suro, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California. 'We've been assuming that when the baby-boomer population gets most expensive, that there are going to be immigrants and their children who are going to be paying into [programs for the elderly], but in the wake of what's happened in the last five years, we have to reexamine those assumptions,' he said. 'When you think of things like the solvency of Social Security, for example, relatively small increases in the dependency ratio can have a huge effect.'"