The postman brought me a review sample last week of what is without doubt the best thing to hit my keychain in ... well, since keys. It's Canary Wireless's Digital Hotspotter, a Wi-Fi signal finder which, despite a few quirks, is the best (and most sophisticated) of the current crop of cheap hand-held detectors. Read on for my review of the device, which was also mentioned in this detector round-up linked to last month.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
The drive to be an evil genius is an easily understandable one. Riches, power, eventual fame, and plenty of minions to order around are just some of the perks of the vocation. Vivendi's Evil Genius (flash required) gives you the opportunity to exercise your lust for worldly power in a seriously stylish way. A rich musical score, tons of polish, and enough dastardly deeds to keep even Dr. Claw happy are the game's high points. An overabundance of micromanagement and a lack of proper GUI interaction marrs what have could been a classic in the strategy genre. Read on for a more in-depth examination of the first real-time strategy game whose tag line could have been "Mwahahahahahahahaha!"
FuzzyBad-Mofo writes "On 8/24/2004, I took the plunge and bought a Rio Karma digital music player. My needs were simple: Decent storage capacity, Linux friendly, and Ogg Vorbis compatible. The Karma has a generous 20 GB capacity, decent battery life, is OS-agnostic, and plays a wide variety of file formats, including Ogg." Read on for the rest of FuzzyBad-Mofo's review.
SeanCier writes "The SIGGraph 2004 conference showed off a lot of trends: high-dynamic-range (HDR) displays and video, suddenly ubiquitous general-purpose GPU programmability (it's not just for polygon shading anymore), 3D and high-colour displays, ever-more-refined fluid dynamics, crowd animation, and point-based graphics, to name just a few. But there was an unspoken undercurrent, a trend that's waiting to happen in the visual effects community, and happen in a big way: Open Source." Read on for more.
Ian Felton writes "PHP 5's official release occurred on July 13th, with a complete overhaul of object-oriented programming features and improved MySQL functions. These are sure to be great additions to the package for PHP developers. However, many of the changes to PHP are hinting at something that PHP developers might not necessarily like down the road." Read on for the rest of Felton's thoughts on the downside to corporate involvment in PHP's future.
Scott Ritchie ended up delivered an angry rebuttal to Friday's OSCON presentation on the credibility of election software: What's strange is that his rebuttal came in response to a talk he himself had just delivered. Ritchie doesn't have a split personality, and wasn't simply playing devil's advocate. He found himself, though, in the strange situation of having agreed (as a last minute stand-in) to deliver a presentation he hadn't yet had a chance to read, provided by Dr. Clive Boughton of Australian software developer Software Improvement. (Boughton is also a Computer Science lecturer at Australian National University.) Between agreeing to fill in and arriving at the conference, Ritchie found that Software Improvement was switching its eVACS voting software from a Free, open source software license (specifically, the GPL) to terms "even worse than that on MS's shared source," and decided to do something about it. (Read more below.)
Time-travel thriller Primer has already gained some festival attention (it won both the Alfred P. Sloan Prize and the Grand Jury Drama Prize at this year's Sundance), and OSCON attendees got a chance to watch the film last Thursday. Primer follows a stretch of time (better said, a series of timeloops) in the lives of a group of young engineers (Aaron, Abe, Robert and Phillip) whose day jobs are just a distraction necessary to pay for their real pursuit: tinkering in Aaron's garage, laboring to come up with the Big Idea that will attract VC funding and make them wildly rich. Two of them certainly find something valuable, but it doesn't lead to easy wealth. (Read on for the rest.)
tyleremerson writes "With today's film release of "I, Robot," the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence has launched a new website, 3 Laws Unsafe. 3 Laws Unsafe explores the non-fictional problems presented by Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. The Three Laws are widely known and are often taken seriously as reasonable solutions for guiding future AI. But are they truly reasonable? 3 Laws Unsafe tries to address this question." Reader Rob Carr has submitted a review of the movie, below, that he promises is spoiler-free.
nsayer writes "My wife and I just took delivery of an EyeTV 500 - Elgato's brand-new box for U.S. over-the-air digital television. Elgato makes PVR hard- and software for Macs. With the 500, HDTV reception and recording functionality has arrived for the Macintosh." Pudge reviewed the original (USB, NTSC) EyeTV nearly two years ago; read on for the rest of nsayer's review of the FireWire-based 500 model (first mentioned earlier this month). The 500 will play back both standard and high-definition digital signals, but only broadcast, not cable.
xerid writes "I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night, and the theatre was packed & sold out for each showing. Today, I read on Michael Moore.com about the movie breaking records. However, what I haven't seen was coverage on Slashdot, about the movie's opening day." I saw the film on friday and was really impressed. But while it speaks much truth, and has many funny parts as well as truly heartbreaking ones, I don't know how many votes it will sway. But since there is very little other news so far today, why not talk amongst yourselves!
Comte writes "About three hundred charter members, local sci-fi cognoscenti and assorted geeks got a sneak peek last night of Paul Allen's $22 mm Science Fiction Museum prior to its official grand opening this Friday." Comte peeked, and contributes his impressions of the museum -- read on below to see what it's like. If you're in Seattle with a few hours, he says it's worth dropping in. (The rest of the text is his.)
Lucasfan04 writes "Apparently a few clips leaked out from the upcoming Star Wars Trilogy DVD. They're from George Lucas' audio commentary, and you can hear him talking about the films. Five 3-minute or so clips are featured."
Sex, liquor and gambling are not Las Vegas' only tempting vices -- there are electronics, too. The 2004 Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing. Below is a informal report from the show floor: I've been walking around the place ogling flat screens of all varieties (plus one close-to-flat screen, details below) and seeking the elusive perfect portable music player I'm after. Read on to learn about some of the interesting products being hawked, and about some things for which you'll have to wait.
Several folks noted that you can now see the first trailers for Spider-man 2, provided you have some broadband action going on. It's nice to know that there will be something to look forward to after RotK comes out.