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North Korea Bombs The White House In This Cheesy New Propaganda Video

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In a new propaganda video posted on a North Korean website, North Korean missiles destroy the White House and aircraft carriers.
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freeAgent
50 minutes ago
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This is kind of fascinating.
Los Angeles, CA
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The first Kirby game was programmed without a keyboard

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This was apparently the entirety of the development hardware Masahiro Sakurai used to start programming <em>Kirby's Dream Land</em>.

This was apparently the entirety of the development hardware Masahiro Sakurai used to start programming Kirby's Dream Land. (credit: Source Gaming / Famitsu)

Any programmer of a certain age likely has a horror story about some rinky-dink coding and workflow environment that forced them to hack together a working app under extreme hardware and software constraints. Still, we're pretty sure none of those stories can beat the keyboard-free coding environment that Masahiro Sakurai apparently used to create the first Kirby's Dream Land.

The tidbit comes from a talk Sakurai gave ahead of a Japanese orchestral performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original Game Boy release of Kirby's Dream Land in 1992. As reported by Game Watch (and wonderfully translated by the Patreon-supported Source Gaming), Sakurai recalled how HAL Laboratory was using a Twin Famicom as a development kit at the time. Trying to program on the hardware, which combined a cartridge-based Famicom and the disk-based Famicom Disk System, was “like using a lunchbox to make lunch,” Sakurai said.

As if the limited power wasn't bad enough, Sakurai revealed that the Twin Famicom testbed they were using "didn’t even have keyboard support, meaning values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard." Those kinds of visual programming languages may be fashionable now, but having a physical keyboard to type in values or edit instruction would have probably still been welcome back in the early '90s.

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freeAgent
8 hours ago
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Some people have infinitely more patience than me.
Los Angeles, CA
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United Airlines says bumped passengers will get up to $10,000 in compensation, but beware the fine print

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It took a viral video showing the violent removal of a bloodied passenger from one of its flights to do it, but United Airlines is trying to improve its customer service.

The US airline repented yet again for the April 9 incident and unveiled improvements to its procedures on April 27, including “limiting the use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.” United came under fire on social media and from investors after airport police dragged passenger David Dao off a flight to make room for crew riding to another assignment.

The airline also took a page from the playbook of rival Delta Air Lines, which earlier this month said it would offer up to $9,950 to bumped passengers. United said it would offer compensation worth as much as $10,000 to passengers who voluntarily take another flight when the airline overbooks. Airlines routinely sell more seats than they have available to ensure the most seats possible are filled if passengers cancel.

United provided a laundry list of things it promises to improve, such as reducing overbooking and not ousting seated passengers from its aircraft, all part of CEO’s Oscar Munoz’s vow to become the standard bearer for US airlines. But airlines, which have recently mastered lining their own pockets, won’t likely be lining those of the customers they inconvenience as well.

The ceiling of $10,000 in compensation will be paid in travel certificates, not in cash, United told Quartz. It wasn’t immediately clear if passengers would be required to use the compensation in one place, such as on a first-class ticket, or if they could split it up among several flights. Second, that compensation limit is for passengers who voluntarily agree to take a later flight when the airline needs them to vacate their seats. And third, it is a ceiling. There is no guarantee that the airline will offer that much.

For passengers who must fly, say they are going to a wedding, funeral or an important business meeting, and refuse to take the bump, the compensation is less generous. United says it will follow the federally-mandated limit of $1,350 in compensation for passengers who are involuntarily bumped, which United had more of than its competitors between 2008 and 2016.

Update: The post has been updated to note that United had a higher, historical rate of involuntarily bumped passengers between 2008 and 2016.



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freeAgent
8 hours ago
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TL;DR, they'll pay you in travel vouchers rather than cash.
Los Angeles, CA
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After Challenging Red Light Cameras, Oregon Man Fined $500 for Practicing Engineering Without a License

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When Mats Järlström's wife got snagged by one of Oregon's red light cameras in 2013, he challenged the ticket by questioning the timing of the yellow lights at intersections where cameras had been installed.

Since then, his research into red light cameras has earned him attention in local and national media—in 2014, he presented his evidence on an episode of "60 Minutes"—and an invitation to present at last year's annual meeting of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

It also got him a $500 fine from the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

According to the board, Järlström's research into red light cameras and their effectiveness amounts to practicing engineering without a license. No, really. Järlström had sent a letter to the board in 2014 asking for the opportunity to present his research on how too-short yellow lights were making money for the state by putting the public's safety at risk. "I would like to present these fact for your review and comment," he wrote.

Instead of inviting him to present, the board threatened him. Citing state laws that make it illegal to practice engineering without a license, the board told Järlström that even calling himself an "electronics engineer" and the use of the phrase "I am an engineer" in his letter were enough to "create violations."

Apparently the threats weren't enough, because the board follow-up in January of this year by officially fining Järlström $500 for the supposed crime of "practicing engineering without being registered."

Järlström is now suing the state board over that fine, arguing that it's unconstitutional to prevent someone from doing math without the government's permission. He's getting support from the Institute for Justice, a national libertarian law firm.

"Criticizing the government's engineering isn't a crime; it's a constitutional right," said Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, in a statement. "Under the First Amendment, you don't need to be a licensed lawyer to write an article critical of a Supreme Court decision, you don't need to be a licensed landscape architect to create a gardening blog, and you don't need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights."

The notion that it's somehow illegal for Järlström to call himself an engineer is absurd. He has a degree in electrical engineering from Sweden, worked as an airplane camera mechanic in the Swedish Air Force, and has worked in a variety of technical jobs since immigrating to the United States in 1992. In Oregon, though, all that matters is whether he has a state-issued license.

As crazy as Järlström's story is, it's not the first time the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying has been overly aggressive about enforcing their rules for who is and who is not an engineer.

According to the lawsuit, the state board investigated Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman in 2014 for publishing a campaign pamphlet that mentioned Saltzman's background as an "environmental engineer." Saltzman has a bachelor's degree in environmental and civil engineering from Cornell University, a master's degree from MIT's School of Civil Engineering, and is a membership of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

What he isn't, though, is a licensed engineer in the state of Oregon.

According to Järlström's lawsuit, the board spent more than a year investigating Saltzman's background before voting to issue an official "warning" against using the word engineer incorrectly.

In another case, the state board investigated a Republican gubernatorial candidate for using the phrase "I'm an engineer and a problem-solver" in a campaign ad. The candidate in question, Allen Alley, had a degree in engineering from Purdue University and worked as an engineer for Boeing (and, of course, wasn't trying to lie about his lack of an Oregon-issued licensed but merely was making a freaking campaign ad), but

It doesn't stop there. In 2010, the state board issued a $1,000 fine for illegally practicing engineering to a local activist who told the La Pine, Oregon, city council that a proposed new power plant would be too loud for nearby residents.

The board once investigated Portland Monthly magazine for running a story that described a young immigrant woman as "an engineer behind Portland's newest bridge." The woman in the story did not describe herself as an engineer, but the magazine's editors included that description in the headline, the board concluded.

Järlström's lawsuit isn't seeking any monetary damages. He only wants a judicial order telling the state state board to stop violating the free speech rights of Oregonians.

"Anyone should be allowed to talk about the traffic signals—if they're too long or too short or anything—without being penalized," Järlström says.

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freeAgent
8 hours ago
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"He has a degree in electrical engineering from Sweden, worked as an airplane camera mechanic in the Swedish Air Force, and has worked in a variety of technical jobs since immigrating to the United States in 1992. In Oregon, though, all that matters is whether he has a state-issued license."

Yeah...**** this licensing board. He's not putting anyone's life in danger (unlike engineers who may or may not be unsafely shortening yellow light cycles).
Los Angeles, CA
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Crony Capitalists in Detroit Are Ripping Off Taxpayers

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The popular narrative in Motown, near where I live, has it that the city is back! In the downtown core, business is booming, streets are buzzing, eateries are opening, and apartments are renting. And all of this is credited to the hard-work and big investments of rich billionaires, particularly Quicken Loan's Dan Gilbert, who have all banded together and adopted this city to nurture it back to health.

But Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations warned, when business meet up, "even for merriment and diversion," the conversation inevitably "ends in a conspiracy against the public." And so it is in Detroit where Gilbert and his pals are turning crony capitalism into a high art. They are cramming this city, whose population is about a third of what it used to be, with one structure after another: Stadiums, high-rises, light rail. Why? Because they get taxpayers to subsidize part of their construction while they keep the entire profit from its use.

But the latest brownfield transformation scam – ooops, legislation -- that Gilbert is pushing in the state would put all of these previous schemes to shame, I note in The Week. It will allow him to collect taxpayer dollars for a skyscraper he wants to build where Detroit's famous Hudson store once stood. But the way he's doing it is interesting:

Now, businesses routinely hit up taxpayers for money. They obtain subsidies, tax breaks, special tax write-offs, and low-interest loans backed by state bonds. But this legislation, which has already sailed through the state Senate and is now being considered by the state House, is particularly egregious.

The bill would allow five developers in five cities every year to not just capture part of the property taxes from the brownfield (which is a site contaminated or environmentally damaged by previous users) they are redeveloping, but also $40 million worth of income taxes for 20 years. Whose income taxes? Remarkably, as soon as work on the site begins, the developers will be able call dibs on the income taxes paid by their own construction workers. And once the project is completed, a portion of the income taxes of the residents and the sales taxes of the businesses will be handed over to these developers as well…

There is even more awfulness to this that the column spells out. But the real issue is, are such boondoggles improving the lives of average Detroiters?

Well....Go here to find out.

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freeAgent
9 hours ago
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Michigan, really?
Los Angeles, CA
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Janet Napolitano Could Be In Big Trouble

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Audit shows Napolitano's office hiding funds from the legislature

The University of California hid a stash of $175 million in secret funds while its leaders requested more money from the state, an audit released on Tuesday said.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the audit found that the secret fund ballooned due to UC Office of the President overestimating how much is needed to run the school system that includes 10 campuses in the state. Janet Napolitano, the former Department of Homeland Security chief, is in charge of the school system.

Napolitano denied the audit’s claim. She reportedly said the money was held for any unexpected expenses. Her office also denied the amount in the fund.

Pretty much the entire management team of California Sate Parks got fired for doing almost the exact same thing, with the exact same excuses

California state parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned and her second-in-command was fired Friday after officials discovered the department has been sitting on "hidden assets" totalling [sic] nearly $54 million.

The money accumulated over 12 years in two special funds the department uses to collect revenue and pay for operations: $20.4 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33.5 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund.

The money accumulated, state officials said, because the parks department had a pattern of under-reporting the actual size of the funds in its regular dealings with the state Department of Finance.

Ms. Coleman (who I worked with a few times and liked) was frankly an easier "kill" because, while long tenured in the state parks job, she really did not have a lot of political muscle.  Napolitano does.  Relying on consistent standards would say Napolitano should go, but government has never been about applying consistent standards, only power.  So we shall see.

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freeAgent
9 hours ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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