Letters It being Friday, we thought Letters could do with a lighthearted tone, for a change. And what, dear readers, could be more lighthearted than a story involving children and animals? And software piracy. Oh, wait, that spoiled it...
Yes, we are talking about the competition the Business Software Alliance has launched in the US to get school kids to name its anti-piracy weasel. Or ferret. Or something.
One has to wonder what bright little lamp came up with a ferret of all animals as a mascot for a company against copyright theft. Any ferret owner knows all too well that these little critters are very good thieves.
Perhaps we can suggest to them that a sea lion would be a better mascot? Big, ugly, smelly and pushy fits the BSA far better than a small, cuddly sneakthief that craps in corners.
re: Name that antipiracy weasel, BSA asks kids
I may be a little old for the BSA's voting pool, but I have a few names I would like to nominate:
Rip-off Rat Money-hungry mink Haul your downloading ass to court Hob (Male ferrets are called Hobs, females are called Jills) Subpoena Skunk or my favorite, F*ck the artists Ferret
BTW, did you know a grouping of ferrets is called a business and the name ferret is derived from the latin word for thief? That can't be a coincidence.
Cheers, Johnny Mac
I suggest Popgoes (the weasel) although I considered the obvious "Ashcroft" or "Hatch". as the mascot for this latest brown shirted kinderbrigade.
Is the comic in question being written by Jack Chick ( http://www.chick.com/catalog/tractlist.asp )? Certainly sounds insane enough to be his work!
I'm sure there's some convergence possible here too - the Lord can't possibly approve of rampant copyright abuse, can he? Then again, maybe it'd be balanced by his hatred for the Satanists at the BSA, the RIAA and so on..
Rather than The Wind in the Willows, what the pigopolists will probably do is a dodgy rewrite of The Animals of Farthing Wood. It doesn't really take much rewriting:
Series 1 involved Farthing Wood being destroyed by humans, and the animals decided to work together to get to the paradise of White Deer Park. They had to face all the dangers of humanity - poison, fire, guns - and some were killed in the process but they made it in the end. Series 2 was all about surviving the winter in White Deer Park, trying to stay true to the "Farthing Wood" ideals in amongst other animals who didn't know/care about their ways.
So, let's see - replace "Farthing Wood" with "Billion Dollar Wood", "White Deer Park" with "Pigopolist Paradise (by the Hypokra Sea)" and Bob's your uncle.
"The comic book and companion teacher’s guide will be mailed across the US to fourth grade teachers who subscribe to Weekly Reader and will be available for free download at the Play It Cyber Safe website."
I hope it's ok to distribute it as PDF files in P2P networks, it surely would be much cheaper and would reach l0tZ4 k1dZ. I'm curious about what alternative dialogs and enhanced artwork will be in those files. Regards, ajax
Well, I found a ferret names web page here
No Fink/Rat/Nark, but there is, "Snitch."
Could we have a Reg Poll/Contest, please?
Not a bad idea... We'll have a word with the mighty tech gods and see what we can do.
Just a little nod to the slug-like Vogons, and their namesakes' valiant efforts in relieving Dame Shirley of all that nasty extra money she had lying around:
Vogon investigators took complete images of the hard disks contained in various computers, which were then processed, and forensic recovery techniques were used to analyse deleted files. This provided important evidence for Westminster.
One wonders if samples of Vogon poetry were added surreptitiously, to numb the higher faculties of the Westminster investigators.
It is frighteningly likely...
Ahhh, there was no way we'd get through a whole email bag without a complaint. This week's sole gripe is in response to a story on the challenges faced by businesses trying to comply with corporate governance regulations:
What a load of fetid dingos kidneys. Did you swallow a M$ sales executive, they are easily mistaken for a M$ engineer (hint, the engineers are etiher Frick or Frack)?
What businesses need is not more equipment or software to handle more data, which is what M$ is suggesting. What they need are human systems for managing the relevant data so that it becomes information. There's nothing in M$'s portfolio of malware that will help them do that. If anything, M$ will only serve to swamp businesses with more data.
Putting a database file system in Foghorn is not going to solve the problem either as any user of Google can tell you. Separating the relevant information from the gobs of data is not a machine task, it is a human task. The social structure of your organization is what will help turn mere data into information. Once information becomes internalized by humans, it might even become knowledge. M$ cannot help you with any of this.
Now go get your stomach pumped and don't swallow any M$ sales people again.
We especially like Fetid Dingoes' Kidneys. Vultures, remember?
Our explanation of Sharp's 3D LCD technology got a couple of interesting responses:
Great review of stereopsis (3-D vision using two eyes), but missing one ingredient. It turns out we get even more visual cues from motion: not only how things move by themselves in the world, but how the image changes slightly when we move ourselves. For example: close one eye and it's hard to tell depth, but move your head side-to-side, and suddenly depth pops out again.
Unfortunately, there has been no way for steropsis tricks (like the Sharp LCD or the polarizing glasses) to recreate this essential aspect of 3-D vision, which is one of the reasons the steropsis illusion is incomplete.... things look kind of realistic until you move a bit--then you expect a slight change of image, which doesn't come, and some of the realism goes away, and a bit of nausea shows up instead.
I'm guessing that in a few years some company is going to build a head-tracker into such a laptop, and let software synthesize new images on the fly according to where the viewer's head actually is, so each eye always sees exactly what it ought to see... not only avoiding the "sweet spot" problem, but creating a much more persuasive illusion. Now THAT will be fun to watch.
Bill Softky Redwood Neuroscience Institute
Another aspect of 3D stereoscopic vision that you did not mention in your article refers to the use of 3D "Shutter" glasses.
Currently, video boards with the nVidia chipset (All the way back to the TNT series chips, through the brand spanking new GeForce 6800 Ultra, have been able to support this) have manufacturer-provided drivers for this. Most people commonly refer to it as "Page flipping".
The technology relies on the fact that newer video cards have two frame buffers - the front and back buffer. While the board is displaying an image from one buffer, the card's GPU is busy rendering the next frame in the other one. How the page flipping works is, the card renders two separate frames - one oriented for the right eye, and one oriented from the left eye. When the driver is activated, the GPU is rendering both frames simultaneously - One in each buffer.
The glasses slightly resemble an ordinary pair of sunglasses, except for the fact that each "lens" is really an LCD panel - when energized, it completely blacks out, thus blocking that eye from seeing the screen image. The glasses are synchronized with the video card by means of a cable that attaches to a video card dongle (Some glasses are wireless - they use an infrared transmitter attached to said dongle), that triggers on the VSync signal. As the video card displays one image, the opposing eye is blocked by the shutter. Then the card "Page flips" from one buffer to the other, displaying the image for the other eye, and at the exact same moment the glasses switch which eye is covered, thus fooling the brain into perceiving 3D depth.
The biggest drawback to this is that it only works on CRT monitors (In order to effectively display the 3D stereoscopic images without serious eye-strain, the video card needs to run at least 100Hz refresh rate, preferably 120Hz or higher). LCD displays typically only refresh at 60hz.
I have been a long-time user of the 3D stereoscopic vision on my nVidia boards, and to be quite honest, that feature has kept me a loyal nVidia customer - even if the ATI cards do perform better in the benchmarks.
I'm glad they're finally moving the technology forward to LCD displays - Lately it seems that CRT's are becoming more and more obsolete, and the 3D stereoscopic vision is the main reason I still use a CRT at home.
(And, if this letter is posted in the "Letters" section, I'm sure at least one person will want to know: Doom 3 looks --phenomenal-- with the 3D Stereoscopic drivers activated...)
Thanks for listening to me ramble, and sorry for the lengthy techno-babble message.
Rambling technobabble is exactly what we want here in letters, so keep 'em coming. Enjoy the weekend. ®
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