TRNick writes "The old home-computing art of hacking elaborate graphics and camerawork into tiny amounts of memory has been lost, right? Not so. The demoscene is keeping ingenious coding skills alive, and TechRadar finds out the latest developments. Winner of the 4kb competition at 2009's Breakpoint party was RGBA's demo 'Elevated,' a gorgeous scrolling demo featuring photo realistic landscapes and music, which fits into the memory used by one of your PC's desktop icons. This is really impressive stuff."
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bonch writes "Windows 95 almost shipped with a technique for detecting whether a floppy disk was inserted without spinning up the drive. Microsoft's floppy driver developer discovered a sequence of commands that detected a disk without spinup — unfortunately, unspecified behavior in the floppy hardware specification meant that half the drives worked one way and half the other, each giving opposite results for the detection routine. Microsoft considered a dialog prompting the user to insert a disk to 'train' the routine, but the idea was scrapped."
Engadget is reporting that Envizions, maker of the EVO Linux game console, has finally announced final specs and opened the doors to pre-orders. All bets are off until users actually see the hardware, but it will be nice to see a new player in the market. Of course, this assumes they put some time into a little polish that is usually expected from the gaming community (that website, yikes) and some effort into a killer game library. "Envizions say that the console will run a modified, quick-boot distro of Fedora called Mirrors (which can be upgraded to a beefier build named Mirrors Evolution X), and will feature a "cloud" service stacked with Amiga (!) games and an Akimbo-based video service. Beyond that, proper titles will be sold online and on SD cards for around $20." I'm sure they won't forget to send Slashdot a beta review copy with a couple of games.
Marty writes "The PlayStation 3 has recently seen an explosion of releases of emulators and games for the Yellow Dog Linux distro for PS3; once you have installed Yellow Dog Linux you then have the ability to try out MAME, SNES, Amiga, Dos, Commodore and Atari emulators (that's the tip of the iceberg) and such games as Quake 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Hexen 2 and Alephone. Time to start installing Linux on your PS3?"
jamie pointed out an Amiga community that took a discovery of how to restore old computer plastic, super-charged it, and then opened the process to the public domain. Time to spruce up those old dusty TRS-80s in the basement. "All of the initial tests were done with a liquid and we realized that for large parts this was getting expensive, so the next stage was to make a paintable 'gel' version that could be brushed onto larger surfaces. This was tried in Arizona in the sun and the UK under a UV lamp and was found to be just as effective as the liquid. We have now released this to the public domain for anyone to use as we can't patent it and we coined the nickname 'Retr0brite' for it, as it summed up what we were actually doing with it."
Skudd writes "Modern computing has always been reliant on accuracy and correct answers. Now, a professor at Rice University in Houston posits that some future applications could be revolutionized by 'probabilistic computing.' Quoting: 'This afternoon, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, will announce results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today's best technology while using just 1/30th the electricity. ... The high density of transistors on existing chips also leads to a lot of background "noise." To compensate, engineers increase the voltage applied to computer circuits to overpower the noise and ensure precise calculations. Palem began wondering how much a slight reduction in the quality of calculations might improve speed and save energy. He soon realized that some information was more valuable than other information. For example, in calculating a bank balance of $13,000.81, getting the "13" correct is much more important than the "81." Producing an answer of $13,000.57 is much closer to being correct than $57,000.81. While Palem's technology may not have a future in calculating missions to Mars, it probably has one in such applications as streaming music and video on mobile devices, he said.'
Amiga Trombone sends this quote from the beginning of a story at Bloomberg: "President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the US's civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China. Obama's transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency's planned launch vehicle, which isn't slated to fly until 2015, according to people who've discussed the idea with the Obama team."
SomeoneGotMyNick writes "Someone more nostalgic than I am, and with a lot of time on their hands, had created a scripting language based on Commodore BASIC for Mac OS X. They recently finished a version that works on Windows and Linux. You can pass the text of a BASIC program as a parameter to the program. I found it odd that it took 1.8 MB of source code to compile to an interpreter that used to fit in 8K of ROM space. If this ever becomes popular, perhaps we'll see Obfuscated CBM BASIC contests." In a simliar vein, in the comments someone points out what is essentially an open source AmigaOS Classic.
Croakyvoice writes "Finally, months after the official announcement, 3,000 lucky people can now pre-order Pandora, possibly the world's fastest handheld console. It boasts a processor capable of up to 900 MHZ, PowerVR 3D graphics, a large 800x480 LCD touchscreen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, dual SD card slots, TV out, dual analogue and digital controls, a clamshell DS Lite-style shape, and a 43-button mini keyboard. The console already boasts an amazing amount of ready-for-release software such as Ubuntu and many full-speed emulators for systems such as Snes, Amiga, Megadrive, and many more that are not publicly announced yet. The console is as powerful as the original Xbox and on a par with the Nintendo Wii. Those interested should visit OpenPandora.Org. For the full history of Pandora from inception until the present, check out the Pandora Homebrew Site."
fobsta writes "Do any Slashdotters have experience of selling video game ideas? I'm an artist who has programmed a rough-as-nails demo and animated a trailer to explain my concept. Obviously I think it's fun, it shows promise, and my friends think it's cool. Who should I pitch the idea to? Existing video games companies, venture capitalists, or what about those dentists who financed the Amiga? Are they still around? I've had a previous idea hijacked, and received no reward for it whatsoever; how can I prevent this happening again?"
intenscia writes "The 2007 Mod of the Year Awards players choice winners have been announced, capping off a great year in gaming. This year titles which were influenced by the War in Iraq fared well, with Half-Life 2, Battlefield 2 and the GPL'd ID Tech 3 engine polling strongly in the indie games and released mods categories. Crysis mods, though still in the early stages of development, did well in the best upcoming category as indie developers attention shifts to some of the next-gen engines."
Amiga Gamer writes "Amiga Inc. Acting President Bill McEwen has given an update to Amiga OS5 of sorts. In a previous interview Bill had said of OS5: "The product that we are going to ship is going to be much better than OSX from Apple". "OS 5 is ahead of schedule, and we will be making public announcements concerning the product in the 4th quarter of this year.""
The Austin Game Developer's Conference, now under new management, kicks off today with a keynote from Blizzard President Michael Morhaime. He started off the event with a discussion of the potential of gaming in the 20th Century, and the lessons his company has learned from the long trial that has been World of Warcraft. Read on for notes from his presentation.
Luke writes "This past winter Calvin College professor Joel Adams and then Calvin senior Tim Brom built Microwulf, a portable supercomputer with 26.25 gigaflops peak performance, that cost less than $2,500 to construct, becoming the most cost-efficient supercomputer anywhere that Adams knows of. "It's small enough to check on an airplane or fit next to a desk," said Brom. Instead of a bunch of researchers having to share a single Beowulf cluster supercomputer, now each researcher can have their own."
Late-Eight writes "A key discovery at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could help advance the role of graphene as a possible heir to copper and silicon in nanoelectronics. Researchers believe graphene's extremely efficient conductive properties can be exploited for use in nanoelectronics. Graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon, eluded scientists for years but was finally made in the laboratory in 2004 with the help of everyday, store-bought transparent tape. The current research, which shows a way to control the conductivity of graphene, is an important first step towards mass producing metallic graphene that could one day replace copper as the primary interconnect material on nearly all computer chips." Researchers are now hot to pursue graphene for this purpose over the previous favorite candidate, buckytubes (which are just rolled-up graphene). Farther down the road, semiconducting graphene might take over from silicon at the heart of logic chips.
TheFrozenSink writes "The UK bit of Cnet have put up an article on old formats that should have won their respective format wars. The piece makes some pretty spectacular claims, like if Apple had bought BeOS then there would have been no iPod and of course, no iPhone. The article also claims that the Atari ST was better than the Amiga and that MiniDisc should have won over CD."
An anonymous reader writes "New technology from Microsoft Research India in Bangalore could end the waiting game in offices with limited computers. Researchers are developing software that splits a computer screen in two halves, each side with its own operating system, desktop, applications, cursor and keyboard." Mom! Timmy is on my side of the screen again!
stacybro writes "There is an article on Wired about the Top 10 most influential Amiga games. As someone who actually programmed on the Amiga way back when, I can attest to how far they were ahead of the clones when it came to graphics and audio hardware. I often wonder where the PC world would be if Amiga or Apple had had the marketing smarts (or maybe it was cut throat attitude) of Microsoft. 'Defender of the Crown (Cinemaware, 1986): Way before the Hollywood-ization of the game industry, Cinemaware evoked the era of classic movies with this game and others, such as Wings and the classic B-movie tribute It Came From the Desert. Cinemaware titles were definitely precursors of the CD-ROM era of flashy titles such as Myst and The 7th Guest. More importantly, they brought strong and realistic characterization and depiction to the world of computer games. Cinemaware is still alive today and currently working on an update of Defender of the Crown.'"
Second five-eighth writes "The Amiga is alive and sort of well (you can get the OS, but not the hardware), and Ars Technica has a review of the final version of AmigaOS 4. New features include limited memory protection, 3D display drivers, an improved suite of applications (the bounty for porting Mozilla to AmigaOS has yet to be claimed), and much better 680x0 emulation. Perhaps most telling, the reviewer was able to move his daily writing workflow from Windows XP to AmigaOS 4.0: 'Not only was it possible to do this, but having done so I feel no urge to switch back. It is nice to not have any distractions when working — there is no waiting for the system to swap out when switching between major applications, no constant reminders for updates or to download new virus definitions and even if the worst happens and the system locks up, it takes only seven seconds to reboot and get back to a functional desktop.'"
gloom writes "In 2000 the Finnish demoscene musician Janne Suni (also known as 'Tempest') won the Oldskool Music Competition at the Assembly demoparty with his four-channel Amiga .MOD entitled 'Acid Jazzed Evening.' A Commodore 64 musician called 'grg' remade the song on the C64 (using the infamous SID soundchip); it is this that was stolen. The producer's name is Timbaland and he is one of the hottest names in American music these days. The track in question is called 'Do it' and it is featured on the Nelly Furtado album 'Loose' on the Geffen label. Getting nowhere with Geffen, the demoscene has now risen to the aid of Tempest, first by creating a stir at SomethingAwful (files downloadable from the forum), then at Digg.com, then on YouTube, with a video demonstrating the blatant ripoff. Being an online-posting musician myself — what rights do I have if this should ever happen to me, and what can be done to raise awareness about such things?"