Tuesday, December 31, 2019

It’s a Wonderful Life [Part 1] | https://buff.ly/2s6t9S7 |...

It’s a Wonderful Life [Part 1] | https://buff.ly/2s6t9S7 | @WitWGARA, #fact, #FunFact, #nerdy, #OurMischief, #WitWGARA, Daven Hiskey, fact, fun fact, nerdy, OurMischief, Today I Found Out, WitWGARA |⠀

In this episode of The Brain Food Show, we start off …
December 31, 2019 at 01:00PM

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Eurogamer.net: December 31, 2019 - Eurogamer's game of the year 2019 is Outer Wilds

Editor's note: In 2018, the Eurogamer office divided itself into two clear game of the year camps: Team Tetris Effect and Team Fortnite. This year was much less clearly defined, and there were four or five games in serious contention, from the intricacy and grandeur of Sekiro: Shadows Dies Twice to the minimalist purity of Lonely Mountains: Downhill.

It was symptomatic of a year when the major studios and publishers were quiet but the indie scene saw an astonishing explosion of creativity. Some of those indies found a receptive audience on curated subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade, and it was on Game Pass that our pick for game of the year found a life of its own, spreading virally through players' breathless stories of discovery.

This was a great year for games that took you places but kept you grounded, grateful for the ground beneath you - and none did that better than Mobius Digital's bewitching space oddity, Outer Wilds: a pocket universe, perfect for exploration. Happy new year to you and yours, and we'll see you on the other side. -Oli

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Monday, December 30, 2019

Eurogamer.net: December 08, 2019 - Always on Edge: my life...

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Eurogamer.net: December 08, 2019 - Always on Edge: my life with Jason Brookes | https://buff.ly/33YDI6D | … https://buff.ly/34EvEs1
December 30, 2019 at 03:00PM

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Eurogamer.net: December 30, 2019 at 07:00AM - PS5 and Xbox Series X GPU specs leak: how powerful is next-gen?

A remarkable story unfolded last April where it seemed that an intrepid explorer of the 3DMark benchmark database stumbled upon preliminary testing for a new gaming processor from AMD dubbed 'Gonzalo' - almost certainly a codename for work-in-progress PlayStation 5 silicon. The notion of a PC benchmark database yielding top secret information about an upcoming next-gen console seems implausible - but further leaks over the last few days not only back up the Gonzalo story but also deliver new details about the graphics core of the new machine. On top of that, the leak also contains tantalising hints about the technical make-up of the Xbox Series X GPU too.

The scale and scope of this latest leak is remarkable and the origin of the new information seems even more far-fetched than the Gonzalo story, leading many to believe that the entire thing may be a work of fiction. However, having looked into the situation and independently verified the source, the overwhelming evidence is that the data does indeed originate from AMD - and hasn't been doctored. We're lacking crucial context for sure but the reasons to doubt the veracity of the leak are somewhat thin on the ground.

From what I can gather, someone at AMD's ASIC validation department used GitHub to store fragments of internal testing data from a range of work-in-progress Team Red projects. The leaks include testing of next-gen desktop and mobile Ryzen APUs along with some deep-dive testing on the PS5 chip, now codenamed Oberon. While the data is not public, it's clear that the GitHub test data has travelled far and wide: further details from the leak mentioned in this article are being discussed at length on ResetEra, for example. The genie is out of the bottle.

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Eurogamer.net: December 30, 2019 at 03:00AM - Games of the Year 2019: Disco Elysium is about outliving History

Over the festive break we'll be running through our top 20 picks of the year's best games, leading up to the reveal of Eurogamer's game of the year on New Year's Eve. You can find all the pieces published to date here - and thanks for joining us throughout the year!

A hard-boiled, wild-eyed cousin of Planescape Torment, Disco Elysium is a game about defeat. Specifically it's about the defeat of the political Left, set on the run-down waterfront of a quasi-European metropolis that once played host to a communist revolution. Revachol was a city built "to resolve History", you're told early on, where "the terrible questions of our time will be answered". Five decades down the line, those answers are writ large in the bullet holes from mass executions, the bigoted orphans roaming the mouldy tenements and the craters left by the neoliberal governments that brought Revachol's revolution to heel.

It's certainly a painful game to contemplate if, say, you recently voted Labour, but Disco Elysium's atmosphere of despair should cling to anybody who has ever sought a better life for themselves, regardless of their politics. Early in the story, you dream of your own corpse dangling from a tree in the scattered light of a disco ball. Through blackened, bubbling lips, the body proceeds to damn you for this world's dreadful plight. "You failed," it croaks, against the melancholy lilt of a distant guitar. "You failed me. You failed Elysium. Four point six billion people - and you failed every single one of them." Coughed up by the past your character is desperately trying to forget, the accusation is ludicrous but horribly convincing: it reflects the demented self-aggrandisements of both severe depression and video games. You aren't just an amnesiac has-been detective, after all, drinking and drugging himself into a not-so-early grave. You're the Player. If any single individual bears responsibility for the state of this universe, it's surely you.

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Eurogamer.net: December 30, 2019 - Games of the Year 2019: Astral Chain was the year's best mess

Over the festive break we'll be running through our top 20 picks of the year's best games, leading up to the reveal of Eurogamer's game of the year on New Year's Eve. You can find all the pieces published to date here - and thanks for joining us throughout the year!

Video games are messy things, and Astral Chain might be one of the messiest yet. How do you even begin to describe a thing like this to the uninitiated? Perhaps you start with the story, which is as grounded as this Switch exclusive ever gets: you're a cute cop caught in a story that's part Hong Kong police procedural, part supernatural thriller and totally batshit through and through. Yeah, maybe that's not the best entry point - Astral Chain tilts towards the most excessive of anime excess.

So maybe you start with the action, a fantastical extension of PlatinumGames' well-honed formula that goes some fascinating places. It's a nitro-fuelled Nier: Automata, a turbo-boosted Bayonetta where you're counter-attacking and dodging with all the grace you've experienced in the studio's other titles. Except Astral Chain is more than that, picking up the baton discarded by the cancelled Scalebound by being built around the bond between your character and their barely-tamed beastly sidekick.

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Please Check our #new #tiktok #video! I showed @ecchi_tenshi_ a...

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December 28, 2019 at 10:04PM

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December 28, 2019 at 06:30PM

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Review: Konos Con sabor a Queso y Bacon |… |… |… |...

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December 27, 2019 at 03:00PM

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Curious Case of the Ray-Ban Wearing Monk of Koh Samui

On the scenic Thai island of Koh Sumai, tucked away in the Wat Khunaram temple is the mummified body of one of Thailand’s most famous monks- Luang Pho Daeng. Remarkably well preserved, Luang Pho Daeng’s body was put on display sometime in the 1970s and is still there today, virtually unchanged from the day he passed away, with the notable exception of a giant pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that were added later. So how does his body stay so naturally well preserved and why is he wearing Ray-Bans?

Born sometime in 1894 on Koh Sumai, Luang Pho Daeng first became ordained as a Buddhist monk in his twenties. However, he only remained a monk for a few months before he decided to abandon the pursuit to raise a family and live an otherwise normal life. That said, his brief time as a monk had a profound impact on Luang Pho Daeng’s life and guided his actions throughout the ensuing decades. For example, during WW2, Pho Daeng, who was a financially successful businessman during his adult life, donated large amounts of money as well as clothing and medicine to those in need and otherwise placed high value on all life.

It was also around this time, in 1944 at the age of about 50 years old that he, apparently with the support of his wife and six now grown children, decided to once again become a monk.

After being ordained, Luang Pho Daeng threw himself into studying Buddhist texts and became fascinated with various meditation techniques, soon becoming a master meditator, in particular of Vipassana meditation, which literally translates to “seeing clearly”.

His skill at meditation was such that he could reportedly meditate for upwards of 15 days at a time, during which period he’d neither move nor consume food or drink. Although the man himself claimed that he needed no nourishment during his marathon meditation sessions, he was frequently warned by physicians that he was causing severe harm to his body through his regular extended bouts of no fluid or food intake.

As you might imagine, during these sessions, he lost a great deal of weight through muscle, fat, and fluid loss and was often so weakened by his meditation that he needed to nursed back to health via fluid resuscitation and the like, before ultimately he would once again resume meditating.

The true extent of the damage Luang Pho Daeng did to his body while meditating was largely lost on his followers thanks to the decidedly monk-like stoicism with which he was able to endure the withering effects of severe dehydration and hunger. As a result, Luang Pho Daeng became something of a celebrity amongst the residents of Koh Sumai and many travelled to Wat Khunaram temple to learn from him.

In addition to his impressive meditative abilities, Pho Daeng was known for his strict adherence to a simplistic lifestyle, on a normal day eating only one, simple meal and apparently always eating from the same bowl.

According to the monks of Wat Khunaram where Luang Pho Daeng served as an abbot, shortly after his 79th birthday in 1973, Luang Pho Daeng foresaw his own death and made it known that he would mummify himself, which is totally possible if excruciating and an extremely time consuming process that, given the time of his eventual death, meant he must have started the process long before he made this announcement.

In preparation for his anticipated success at this, he requested that his disciples build him an “upright coffin” made of glass in which his body should be put on display if he was successful in his goal of achieving self-mummification. His ultimate aim being that his remains would serve as an eternal testament to the Buddhist belief in the transience of human existence if he was successful.

Unfortunately for those of us who like the details, exactly how he prepared himself for self-mummification was never recorded by the monks of his temple. That said, one known method used by certain types of Buddhist monks was a total of a nine year process, about six of which the monk would be alive for.

The monks would begin by ceasing eating any food except various nuts and seeds, with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat fruits and berries. They would also begin a regimented program of heavy physical exercise, which they would continue throughout this first period that lasted one thousand days.

During the next one thousand days, the monks would further restrict their diet by only eating bark and various roots, again with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat a limited amount of fruits and berries. Near the end of this period, they would drink a concoction made from the sap of the Urushi tree. This tree’s sap is mildly poisonous and is normally used as a natural lacquer. Ingesting the drink caused the person consuming it to vomit frequently, further restricting the body’s ability to obtain nutrients from the sparse diet they ate. They would also rapidly lose bodily fluids due to vomiting. As a side effect, this sap also worked as a preservative in their bodies.

In the final stage of self-mummification, the monk’s body would be little more than skin and bones. If the monk survived to this point, he would lock himself into a stone tomb that was just large enough for him to fit in, sitting in the lotus position, which is a position he would not move from until he died. The tomb itself contained an air tube, so that the monk could live for a time after being entombed. It also contained a bell, which the monk would ring on a daily basis to let those outside the tomb know he was still alive.

While in the tomb, the monk would sit in the lotus position and meditate until death. Once the monk died and, thus, no longer rang the bell each day, the breathing tube would be removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual. At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If he was, the preserved body would be put on display in the temple. Having successfully demonstrated mastery over the physical, the priest would also then be declared a Buddha.

Whether some semblance of this was what Pho Daeng did or not isn’t known. Whatever the case, after his preparations were complete on an unknown date in 1973, he sat down and meditated for the final time of that particular life.

When his followers discovered that he’d passed away while meditating, they hastily constructed the upright coffin he’d requested and placed his body inside to wait and see if it would decompose or not. If it did decompose, he left instructions that his remains were to be cremated. If it didn’t, as mentioned, he requested they be put it on display.

In keeping with his final wishes, when his body failed to decompose normally, he was then put on display in Wat Khunaram.

Nearly three decades later, in 2002, his remains were still externally in remarkably good shape, spurring researchers at the Bioanthropology Research Institute to study the corpse. In the process, among other things, they performed a radiographic analyses on it.

The results?

Amazingly his organs, including brain, are all still remarkably well preserved, more or less having shrunk from dehydration, but otherwise still there and intact. In fact, one of the only parts of  Luang Pho Daeng’s body that actually rotted away were his eyes, which sunk into his skull shortly after his death.

This became something of an issue for the monks of the temple wanting to display Luang Pho Daeng’s corpse as per his final wishes, because children who visited the temple were understandably terrified of his eyeless visage, rather than in awe of his self-mummification.

After contemplating the issue for some time, the monks of the temple came up with the rather novel solution of simply covering Luang Pho Daeng’s eye sockets with a pair of Ray-Bans, which would not just mask the eye sockets, but also make him look rather stylish.

Luang Pho Daeng has rocked this look ever since. And as a result of both his startlingly well-preserved state and timeless fashion sense, his former body has become the temple’s most famous attraction.

Incidentally, one other interesting thing the study by the Bioanthropology Research Institute discovered in examining the body was that at some point a Gecko or Geckos managed to lay eggs in his eye sockets and skull, as well as in his mouth and throat…

Moving swiftly on, the monks of Wat Khunaram don’t mind visitors taking pictures or even recording videos of Luang Pho Daeng body (so long as they do so in a respectful manner) and the temple is free to the public, meaning images of this fashion conscious mummy are plentiful for those who can’t make the trip.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

Speaking of crazy things certain monks can do, some Tibetan monks can control the temperature of their skin through meditation.  Specifically, they have been shown to be able to raise their skin temperature, measured from their toes and fingers, as much as 17 degrees Fahrenheit, while keeping their core temperature normal.

Scientists from Harvard University, lead by Herbert Benson, were first able to study these monks thanks to the Dalai Lama, who visited Harvard in 1979, and agreed to help them contact and convince the monks to allow them to be studied.  What followed was a series of visits to remote monasteries in the Himalayan Mountains throughout the 1980s.

Not only did they discover the monks could raise their surface temperature while keeping their core temperature normal, but they also found a group in Sikkim, India that could lower their metabolism by 64 percent.  For perspective on how remarkable this is, when you sleep your metabolism drops only 10-15 percent.

The scientists also got a chance to document the monks spending a night out on a rocky ledge in the Himalayas.  The monks were dressed in their simple wool robes with no extra insulation and slept on the cold rocks separated from one another.  The altitude was 15,000 feet and the temperatures reached zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) as they slept, apparently comfortably, through the night.  With as little insulation as they were wearing and laying on the cold rock separated from one another, this should have killed the monks.  But they were all fine and the cameras didn’t even catch them shivering at any point. When they woke, they walked calmly back to their monastery, not seeming to notice the cold at all, unlike the scientists and camera crew who were all bundled up and freezing by morning.

It is not yet known how the monks manage to do this, but magnetic resonance imaging scans of the monks’ brains while they meditate have shown, to quote, “marked differences in blood flow to the entire brain”, Benson explains. “At the same time, certain areas of the brain became more active, specifically those that control attention and autonomic functions like blood pressure and metabolism.”

Naturally some have pointed out that the ability to sustain one’s self in extreme low temperature and low oxygen environments by raising skin temperature and lowering metabolism drastically would be particularly useful for long space missions… *Queue Space Monks*

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The post The Curious Case of the Ray-Ban Wearing Monk of Koh Samui appeared first on Today I Found Out.

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by Karl Smallwood - December 26, 2019 at 09:00PM
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Eurogamer.net: December 14, 2019 at 03:27PM - Here’s what...

Eurogamer.net: December 14, 2019 at 03:27PM - Here’s what happened in Fortnite’s Star Wars live event | https://buff.ly/35p2yOH | @WitWGARA, #GamersUnite, #gaming, #indiewatch, #nerdy, #News, #OurMischief, #WitWGARA, Eurogamer.net, gaming, Here’s what ha…
December 26, 2019 at 07:30PM

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Who Invented the Keyboard and is the Dvorak Really Better than the QWERTY

The origin of the keyboard starts, unsurprisingly with the first typewriters. There were a variety of type-writer-like devices around going back the 18th century, before one Christopher Latham Sholes, with some help from a few other guys, came up with one that would become the first commercially successful typewriter in the 1870s.

Much like many typewriters since, Shole’s device used letters and characters on the ends of rods which were called typebars. When a key was struck, the typebar would swing up and hit the ink-coated tape which would transfer the image onto paper. The difference between this and more modern incarnations, however, is this first device more or less mimicked the layout of a piano keyboard and positioned the keys in alphabetical order in those two rows.

This arrangement had a number of problems, but most notably as people got faster at typing, it caused the typebars of the most commonly used combination letters of the alphabet to be positioned close together, so when the keys were hit one right after the other at any fast speed, the keys would jam. To solve this, the keys were rearranged to put commonly used consecutive letters further away from each other to reduce jams.

While you might be thinking, and it is widely claimed, this was to fix the problem via making people type slower, all evidence point to this simply being to position the arms of these letters better so they’d be less likely to cross. It should be noted here that you’ll often read now-a-days that this whole jamming story is a myth, and that Sholes was simply trying to cater to telegraph operator’s usage in making the change.

Everyone claiming this, including the Smithsonian Magazine, which normally does a lot better research, cites one 2011 paper, On the Prehistory of QWERTY, by Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka of Kyoto University as their source.

However, what the people parroting this fail to mention is that, if you go actually read the paper as we’re wont to do when researching, this paper is just speculation with no real direct evidence to back their claims up. The authors of the paper further incorrectly state that the idea that it was a typebar jamming as motivation didn’t pop up until the 1980s. In truth, the idea that the change was spurred by the typebar jamming came about in 1923 in the book The History of the Typewriter, developed by authors from the Herkimer Historical Society.

So what was their source for this claim? None other than Sholes notes and many correspondence concerning the development of the typewriter.

Now, normally we’d then go and actually read through said notes and letters to find where Sholes actually says this to verify for ourselves, but in this case, while the letters and notes still exist, they only seem to exist in the state archives of Madison, WI and unfortunately we don’t exactly have the budget to send someone out there to verify…

So that’s where we had to stop on this particular rabbit hole. If anyone from Madison Wisconsin wants to go do a little digging further for us, we’d be much obliged. In the meantime, given the authors here aren’t likely to have made this jamming story up out of thin air and were using Shoels’ notes and letters as the base of their work, it seems probable that jamming really was the motivation for the change.

Whether you’re on board with us on that one or not, one thing the aforementioned 2011 paper did get right was, once it was clear a change was needed to stop the jamming, Sholes really did work with telegraphists on the final layout to try to cater to their needs as best he could. But this shouldn’t be much of a surprise given these were among his first customers. In fact, his literal first sale of the 1868 model was to Porter’s Telgraph College in Chicago.

In any event, in 1868, in collaboration with several other people, Sholes settled on an arrangement of the letters on the keyboard for better spacing between popular keys used in combination. The results was that this initially made it difficult for people to find the letters they needed to type efficiently, unlike when the letters were in alphabetical order. However, thanks to less likelihood of jamming, once one became proficient in the new layout, it was found to be a faster typing experience. Of course, at this point in history, people were still predominantly using the hunt and peck method, rather than 10 finger typing, so nobody was blazing fast or anything.

As for this keyboard though, it was the beginning of some semblance of the QWERTY we know and love today, which first appeared in 1872, though it wasn’t quite exactly the one we have yet.

For that, we have to fast-forward ever so slightly. The first more widely available typewriter machine found its way on the market in 1874 through Remington & Sons. The device was called the Remington No. 1, or sometimes the “Sholes and Glidden” typewriter, with Remington and Sons acquiring the rights to it and its near QWERTY keyboard. This, however, did not sell well.

Four years later, however, after slight modifications to the arrangement of the keyboard were made, we finally have the qwerty layout in the famed Remington & Sons Remington No. 2 model, which also notably included the ability to type both capital and lowercase letters by using the shift key.

And if you’ve ever wondered why the Shift key is called that- well, wonder no more- The shift key received its name because it caused the carriage to shift position in order to type either a lowercase or capital letter which were on the same typebar.  Although the shift key we use on our keyboards today does not cause the machine to shift mechanically, the name stuck.

In any event, as the typewriter rose in popularity, people stopped complaining about the weird arrangement of keys and started memorizing the keyboard and learning how to type efficiently.  What particularly helped the sales of the Remington No. 2. Model was that Remington offered classes for a very small fee to learn to type proficiently with the keyboard. They also offered certification in the keyboard, which was a good thing to have for a typist looking for a job, and further good for companies wanting to ensure they could get someone proficient right away just by their resume.

Within a little over a decade there were over 100,000 typewriters using this qwerty layout. As it came to dominate, although other alternate keyboards tried to break into the market, most people decided to stay with the QWERTY layout largely due to the widespread popularity of the typewriters that used it.

The nail in the coffin to other layouts occurred in 1893 when Remington and four other major typewriter makers all merged and set the QWERTY as the industry standard.

There is one other layout, however, that over the decades has had a small amount of traction and induced many a flame-war on the interwebs, often touted as superior to the qwerty for many reason- the Dvorak layout.

This has its origins in the 1930s when Professor August Dvorak of Washington State University set out to develop a more user-friendly keyboard. He ultimately changed the layout such that all of the vowels and the five most commonly used consonants were arranged on the home row (AOEUIDHTNS). The general idea of this keyboard was to try to minimize the need to move your fingers anything but pressing on a key with the most commonly used words.

For example, with the Dvorak keyboard, a person could type approximately 400 of the English language’s most common words just by using the keys of the home row, compared to in the ballpark of 100 of those most common words on the QWERTY keyboard. It is also optimized such that you’ll more frequently alternate hands pressing the keys to further increase speed.

So does this actually speed up typing? Not in any real world noticeable way.

It turns out in the countless studies done on this, the general consensus seems to be that the average increase in words per minute is typically only about 2% to up to 10% or so, give or take depending on what study you want to go with. So, for example, if you used to type at 60 words per minute, you might expect something like at most 66 words per minute or so once you take the necessary time to become proficient at the new arrangement.

That said, some people see much higher improvement rates, even sometimes on the order of 30%-100% boost in words per minute rates. However, if you look closer, people that see these types of huge improvements tend to be people that learned to type on qwerty keyboards without any formal training and generally had suboptimal speeds there because of it. Thus, if they trained properly on the qwerty keyboard, they’d also have seen a large increase in words per minute.

As you might imagine from this, actually testing which is superior, if either, has been a bit difficult, given there’s potential for a lot of noise in the data with so many people at so many varied levels of proficiency on the QWERTY before being formally trained on the Dvorak.

Thus, in an effort to get around this problem, there have been studies that have taken the humans out of the experiment. Exhibit A: a January of 2006 paper titled The Great Keyboard Debate: QWERTY vs Dvorak, by Kathryn Hempstalk of the University of Waikato. In this study, she measured things like the average travel time it took for fingers to move up and down rows and press and the like for giving strokes on the keyboard.

She then took 21 lengthy books, including Moby Dick, and simply added up the time it would take to type those texts out using the Dvorak and the qwerty layouts, given the known average movement times for proficient typers- an ingeniously simple and accurate way to take the human element out.

So what were the results? Timing-wise, even with such a large sample size, neither keyboard was really faster than the other in the general case.  She summed up the study by stating, “the Dvorak layout is the most efficient because it requires the least amount of effort to type some given text, even though it [takes] approximately the same amount of time as the QWERTY layout.”

At this point you aficionados might be already heading to the comments to tell us that Dvorak’s initial studies, particularly one conducted with the U.S. Navy in 1944, looking at his keyboard’s superiority showed far more glowing results in increased in speeds- a whopping 74% increase and reduction of typos by 68% once the keyboardists were trained up.

The problem was that follow up studies, such as one by the U.S. General Services Administration in 1953, among others around this time, couldn’t replicate these results, though some speculate these studies were rigged against the DVORAK. Whether that’s true or not, a surprising number of studies since, as noted, haven’t been able to replicate the original results either except in cases where someone hadn’t bothered to be properly trained in the QWERTY layout in the first place.

Whatever you want to believe on whether the 1950s studies were rigged or not, these studies ultimately killed the Dvorak keyboard’s momentum as the majority of people and companies didn’t want to commit the time or resources it would take to train on a new keyboard if the improvement was only marginal at best.

And since then, not much has changed on that front.

That said, proponents of the Dvorak keyboard who accept that the Dvorak isn’t actually noticeably faster, do point out there are other benefits to the Dvorak beyond speed, primarily in less wrist and finger fatigue and supposedly fewer typos (though the data on this latter one is mixed despite widespread claims).

While less finger and wrist fatigue does indeed appear to be a genuine benefit, proponents of just sticking with the QWERTY tend to be quick to point out that it takes a rather long time to master a new keyboard layout, with people who’ve made the switch to Dvorak generally claiming it took them about 1-6 months to reach the proficiency they have on the qwerty. And further, it takes an awful lot of continual typing before most find themselves fatigued on the qwerty layout anyway. Thus, for the majority of people, it’s probably not worth the effort of re-training.

Further, QWERTY disciples point out that losing proficiency in the qwerty layout that’s pretty much everywhere, is potentially an issue of making the switch. Though to that, many people we read who did become proficient on the Dvorak noted that for them, their brains had no issue switching back and forth between layouts so long as they continued to regularly use both. The human brain is pretty amazing, it turns out.

Perhaps the bigger issue for these individuals was that a lot of short cut key strokes in various software are geared towards the qwerty layout, and can often be quite awkward on a Dvorak keyboard, though there are ways around this if one wants in some cases with some autohotkey scripts that convert for you.

A similar issue is often pointed out by computer programmers in that the symbol placement on the Dvorak is extremely sub-optimal when programing in C and its many off-shoots.

Proponents of the Dvorak, however, correctly point out that all these problems are only problems because almost everyone uses the qwerty.  If everyone switched, you’d get a very tiny boost in speed, slightly less finger and wrist fatigue, and these other problems would go away.

But of course, as it’s only a slight improvement, and not a game changing one, the QWERTY keyboard, much like the useless letters Q, X, and C, persevere through today and seemingly will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, though there are some new efforts being made for better keyboard layouts when typing with just two thumbs as people do a huge percentage of the time now. But even then, the qwerty still dominates to date.

As Dr. Dvorak himself aptly summed up- “Changing the keyboard format is like proposing to reverse the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, discard every moral principle, and ridicule motherhood.”

The post Who Invented the Keyboard and is the Dvorak Really Better than the QWERTY appeared first on Today I Found Out.

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by Daven Hiskey - December 26, 2019 at 04:27PM
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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Legendary Black Samurai

The Black Samurai, despite sounding like a name that’d be more at home in a movie or a comic book than the real world, is a genuine nickname given to a mysterious man from feudal Japan, otherwise known only as Yasuke.

The rank of samurai was, of course, considered one of great prestige and it came with a number of perks including a salary, land, a stipend of rice, servants and the ability to kill commoners who offended them without consequence. In regards to that last one, kiri-sute gomen (literally: authorization to cut and leave) was a right granted to samurai that allowed them to kill anyone of a lower rank (even other samurai of lower rank) for any perceived slight against their honor. While this has little to do with the story of Yasuke, we couldn’t not mention the fact that samurai had the ability to basically murder people without consequence, so long as a given set of restrictions was honored, such as doctors and midwives were exempt to a certain extent, that the blow had to come directly after the affront and not later, a witness to the slight was required for proof a slight was in fact made, etc. etc. But in the general case, samurai were of such high standing that dishonoring one in front of a witness was a great way to end one’s life.

Given the highly regarded position samurai enjoyed, it was seldom an honor doled out to foreigners and, as such, there are less than a dozen confirmed examples of a person outside of feudal Japan being allowed to call themselves samurai. Amongst this select group of foreigners, Yasuke not only stands out for being speculated to have been the first, but also because he was the only one who was black.

Little is known about Yasuke’s past, so little in fact that we know neither where he was born nor his original name. It’s mostly agreed that Yasuke hailed from somewhere in Africa, though which area exactly has never been conclusively established, with Mozambique mentioned most in accounts of his life. This is thanks to the Histoire Ecclesiastique Des Isles Et Royaumes Du Japon written in 1627 by one Francois Solier where he claims Yasuke was from that region. However, it’s not clear what his own source for that information was and he wrote it almost a half century after the last known direct documented evidence of Yasuke.

Whatever the case, originally believed to have been a slave captured sometime in the 1570s by the Portuguese, Yasuke was bought by and became the servant of an Italian Jesuit and missionary called Alessandro Valignano. Valignano was famed for his insistence that missionaries to Japan become fluent with the language, requiring a full two years of study in Japanese, which helped his group stand out and be more successful than others. As for Yasuke, he travelled with and served Valignano for several years until the pair made port in Japan around 1579.

Upon arriving in Japan, as you might expect Yasuke immediately became a subject of intrigue and curiosity, both because of his apparently extremely dark skin and his intimidating stature. Variously described as being between 6 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 5 inches tall, Yasuke towered over the Japanese populace of the period, with males only averaging about 5 feet tall at the time. Beyond his height, he is said to have possessed a powerful, chiselled physique. According to legend, Yasuke’s very presence inspired both terror and curiosity in locals to such an extent that several people were supposedly crushed to death in an attempt to make their way through a large crowd that had gathered to see him. Other stories tell of people breaking down the doors of the places Yasuke was staying just to catch a glimpse.

Whether any of that is true or not, sometime in 1581 while visiting Japan’s capital, Yasuke came to the attention of a man who is considered one of the people ultimately responsible for the unification of Japan, famed Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga.  Nobunaga apparently insisted on meeting the mysterious dark-skinned stranger who was causing such a commotion in his city. Upon meeting Yasuke, according to an account by Jesuit Luis Frois, Nobunaga apparently ordered Yaskue to be roughly scrubbed with brushes to prove that his dark skin was real and not artificially done with ash, charcoal, or the like.

It’s from this first meeting that one of the only known accounts of Yasuke’s appearance comes from, with this fateful meeting documented in the Lord Nobunaga Chronicle:

On the 23rd of the 2nd month March 23, 1581, a black page (“kuro-bōzu”) came from the Christian countries. He looked about 26, 24 or 25 by Western count or 27 years old; his entire body was black like that of an ox. The man was healthy and good-looking. Moreover, his strength was greater than that of 10 men…. Nobunaga’s nephew gave him a sum of money at this first meeting.

Presumably thanks to Valignano requiring missionaries to Japan to learn Japanese, it appears at this point he also required it of Yasuke, as Nobunaga was said to have greatly enjoyed conversing with Yasuke and was intrigued to learn about his homeland. He ended up liking Yasuke so much that he eventually took him as his own, or rather officially Valignano gifted him to the warlord.

Nobunaga, who was known to have a fondness for other cultures, which is in part why he was allowing Christian missionaries to operate in the area, gave his newly found confidant the name Yasuke. Although technically still a slave in the sense that he had to serve Nobunaga, Yasuke quickly rose in stature in the eyes of Nobunaga, with Yasuke ultimately given a house, salary, and servants of his own. During his rise, he apparently served as Nobunaga’s weapon bearer and bodyguard and was otherwise seemingly treated as an equal by his peers. Yasuke was also eventually given a katana from Nobunaga, apparently conferring the title of samurai upon him as only samurai were permitted to carry such a weapon at the time. It’s also noteworthy that he wore the traditional armor of the samurai when in battle. Yasuke also had the frequent extreme honor of dining with Nobunaga, something few others were allowed to do.

Yasuke’s time with Nobunaga was cut short, however, when the warlord was betrayed by one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide, a year later in 1582. In a nutshell, Nobunaga was at the Honnō-ji temple in Kyoto, taking with him only a contingent of 30 pages and guards. For reasons unknown, though perhaps just a simple power grab, Mitsuhide chose to betray Nobunaga at this point, surrounding the temple and attacking. Yasuke is known to have been there and fought alongside Nobunaga, but ultimately when defeat was imminent as the temple burned around them, Nobunaga chose to commit ritual suicide rather than be captured.

Legend has it, whether true or not isn’t known, that one of Nobunaga’s last acts was to order Yasuke to carry Nobunaga’s head and sword to his son and heir, Oda Nobutada.

Whether he actually did this or not, it is known Yasuke managed to escape and joined Nobutada who himself was under attack at the time by a separate contingent of Mitsuhide’s soldiers at nearby Nijō Castle.

Nobunaga’s son was eventually defeated, committed ritual suicide, and Yasuke was captured by Mitsuhide’s men. Apparently unsure what to do with the foreign samurai, or even whether they should consider him a true samurai or not despite that he wielded the sword and wore the traditional armor, they chose not to kill him and instead left it to Mitsuhide to tell them what to do.

In the end, while there is some contention, it would seem Mitsuhide decided to dishonor Yasuke by not allowing him to commit ritual suicide and instead had him returned to the Jesuits. Whether Mitsuhide did this out of pity or contempt for Yasuke is a matter of contention, though it’s noteworthy that there was little in the way of racism towards black people in Japan at the time because so few black people ever visited the country anyway.

From here, as unlikely as it’s going to sound, Yasuke, the giant, Japanese speaking black, now ronin, samurai who supposedly caused crushing crowds wherever he went, disappeared from history, even in the Jesuit’s own accounts. This has led some to speculate that he did not stay with the Jesuits and even some speculation that, if becoming a samurai wasn’t enough, that he became a pirate after this, meaning his moniker could have potentially been not just The Black Samurai, but the ultimate in badass nicknames- The Black Pirate Samurai, though there is unfortunately no hard documented evidence that he actually became a pirate.

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from Today I Found Out
by Karl Smallwood - December 25, 2019 at 06:13PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Eurogamer.net: December 02, 2019 at 11:39AM - Star Citizen...

Eurogamer.net: December 02, 2019 at 11:39AM - Star Citizen has… | https://buff.ly/34kI7AY | #OurMischief, WitWGARA | ⠀

Eurogamer.net: December 02, 2019 at 11:39AM - Star Citizen has now raised over \$250m in crowdfunding | … https://buff.ly/2rJMUPl
December 25, 2019 at 03:30PM

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Eurogamer.net: December 12, 2019 at 06:12PM - The next Xbox is...

Eurogamer.net: December 12, 2019 at 06:12PM - The next Xbox is called… Xbox Series X | https://buff.ly/2Pj0JNu | @WitWGARA, #GamersUnite, #gaming, #indiewatch, #nerdy, #News, #OurMischief, #WitWGARA, Eurogamer.net, gaming, nerdy, News, OurMischief, The…
December 24, 2019 at 01:00PM

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Eurogamer.net: December 24, 2019 at 06:00AM - Games of the Year 2019: Mortal Kombat 11 gets under your skin

Over the festive break we'll be running through our top 20 picks of the year's best games, leading up to the reveal of Eurogamer's game of the year on New Year's Eve. You can find all the pieces published to date here - and thanks for joining us throughout the year!

Mortal Kombat 11 got under my skin. In the case of D'Vorah's grotesque insect fatality, literally.

NetherRealm's fighting games have always felt janky to me, so much so that I'd never put serious time into learning how they play in the same way I had done with Capcom's ultra fluid Street Fighter. But Mortal Kombat 11 turned a corner for me. I found myself in the lab, fussing over frame data and practising set-ups like a giddy teenager with too much free time.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Review: Karamucho Corn Snacks Corn Soup with Pepper

These snacks had shapes like cheese curls, in various lengths and thicknesses, with a light yellow color plus a smattering of dark bits. ...

from Taquitos.net Snack Reviews
by December 23, 2019 at 03:37PM

The Fascinating Origins of Everyday Foods (Part 1) |… |...

The Fascinating Origins of Everyday Foods (Part 1) |… | https://buff.ly/2PbzjJu | #OurMischief, WitWGARA | ⠀

The Fascinating Origins of Everyday Foods (Part 1) | https://buff.ly/34DPwMR | @WitWGARA, #fact, #FunFact, #nerdy, #O… https://buff.ly/36q6S05
December 23, 2019 at 03:00PM

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Eurogamer.net: December 23, 2019 at 03:00AM - Games of the Year 2019: TeamFight Tactics is RNG on the QT

Over the festive break we'll be running through our top 20 picks of the year's best games, leading up to the reveal of Eurogamer's game of the year on New Year's Eve. You can find all the pieces published to date here - and thanks for joining us throughout the year!

What I think is most impressive about TeamFight Tactics - and to an extent the burgeoning auto chess genre as a whole - is how it somehow prevents RNG from ruining the party.

Each game of TFT starts with a carousel made up of random two cost champions each equipped with a random item. After the countdown, you must rush to touch the champion you want to start the game with, hoping you get there first. Everything about this first step is random, and it sets the tone.

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What Happens if You Commit a Crime in Space?

Milesperawesome asks: Could you get in trouble legally if you murdered someone in space? Asking for a friend.

While it might seem like something out of science fiction, given that humans are presently in space and soon enough mass space tourism is going to open up the possibility for many, many more, it’s only a matter of time before someone commits a crime in space, with it being alleged the first already occurred in 2019, which we’ll get to shortly. So what exactly happens if someone does break the law in space? Could you, say, commit murder and get away scot-free?

To begin with, while you might think it can’t actually be possible to commit a crime in space because no country seemingly has jurisdiction there, you’d be wrong. Much like the myth that you can do whatever you want in international waters because no country holds sway, it turns out, among other agreements and rules, International laws are a thing.

On that note, while aboard a given vessel, the ship you’re on officially hails and is registered from some nation or group of nations (like the European Union) and the laws from said entities are binding aboard it in most cases while it’s out at sea. This is outlined in the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, “every State shall effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag.”

While obviously there isn’t exactly a court case history to back this up, the general consensus is that the same basic idea will hold true for ships in space, and certain agreements to date concerning space ships do seem to bear that out, as well as help give a partial framework for judges to work with.

For example, in the Outer Space Treaty, beyond more or less attempting to ensure space stays free from any claim of national sovereignty, most pertinent to the topic at hand, it notes,

State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outerspace is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body.

More or less mirroring this idea, on the International Space Station, the partnered nations came up with the Intergovernmental Agreement on Space Station Cooperation, which states, in part, the nations, “may exercise criminal jurisdiction over personnel in or on any flight element who are their respective nationals.”

As Joanne Gabrynowicz, the editor of Journal of Space Law- which is totally a thing by the way- elaborates, “The law of the nation that contributed and registered the module applies to that module… Further, each astronaut is governed by the law of the nation they represent. Therefore, which nation’s criminal jurisdiction will apply depends on which nation’s module the alleged crime was committed and which nation the alleged perpetrator is from.”

It’s also noteworthy that this Space Station Agreement has already anticipated countless other things that may happen in space and how various nations can work together amicably to resolve them, leading many space lawyers- which are also totally a thing- to speculate that elements of this agreement are likely to get adopted into a more general, universal agreement at some point down the line. And in the meantime, judges may well lean on it, among other existing agreements and analogous cases here on Earth, when attempting to decide legal matters as they begin happening outside of the ISS.

Speaking of these analogous cases, much like when a person travels to another nation and then commits a crime, there are plenty of existing agreements and fodder for authorities to draw from when crimes are committed in space. While there certainly will be the occasional dispute, as even happens between nations on Earth over such matters today, there is a pretty good outline already in place as to how it will probably be sorted out.

On top of this, even should you renounce your citizenship and be aboard your own vessel that likewise has no ties to any nation (perhaps even with you declaring said ship a nation of its own), it is likely if you did anything serious, especially against someone who does still have citizenship with some nation, you would still face prosecution for any crimes, perhaps via an International Criminal Court or even a special tribunal. (Although, in this case, we’re hoping such a court will be given the new, much cooler moniker of Galactic Criminal Court at some point.)

As the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, Henry Hertzfeld, states,

Although there is no sovereignty outside a spacecraft, there are analogies to the law on ships in international waters and also to issues that might occur in Antarctica; both places with no national sovereignty. So, although this is not a settled issue, my reading is that being in space and technically outside of any nation’s sovereignty or jurisdiction is not sufficient to avoid being charged with a crime…

Of course, even then there still is a lot of potential for gray area. For example, one of the world’s leading space lawyers, Joanne Gabrynowicz, outlines one such scenario for people on the International Space Station, which has a pretty well defined set of rules as previously noted,

Each of the modules is registered by a different country, so that means that if you’re in the US laboratory, you’re on a piece of US territory… If you mosey over to the Japanese module, you are now in Japan. So, it’s like an embassy. It’s national territory….What happens if it’s been a long hard day at the American lab, and a European astronaut punches a Canadian in the American module, but then runs over to the Japanese module? Who has jurisdiction over that? …

But, of course, that is just a jurisdictional issue. If a serious enough crime was committed, the person’s going to get prosecuted somewhere. It just might be a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare in some cases to sort out where.

When moving over to scenarios like actual colonization of places like Mars, once a colony is setup, it will no doubt enact its own laws, which those living there will have to agree to, whether explicitly or implicitly, not too dissimilar to moving to a new country on Earth. And likewise it is probable that extradition agreements and the like will be setup little different from agreements between nations on Earth.

Coming back around to the question of if there has ever yet been a crime committed in space, this allegedly occurred during astronaut Anna McClain’s six month stint on the ISS in 2019. During that span, she supposedly accessed her recently ex-wife’s bank account several times, allegedly to double check there was enough money in the accounts to cover bills and to care for the pair’s son. On the other hand, her ex, Summer Worden, took the matter more seriously, viewing it as illegal access to her accounts, thus potentially subjecting McClain to certain identity theft laws.

Because McClain is an American citizen, was aboard the American module of the International Space Station when she allegedly committed the crime, was using one of NASA’s computers at the time, and her supposed victim is likewise American, she was very clearly under the jurisdiction of the United States. However, as far as we can find, nothing ever came of these accusations other than a NASA investigation and a whole lot of news reports. McClain is still an astronaut for NASA and otherwise no further updates on the matter have ever been made public, so presumably either it was decided no crime was actually committed or the former couple settled the matter amicably and the investigation was dropped.

But to sum up, no matter where you are in the universe, you can be fairly sure that judges the world over will be happy to cite similar type scenarios that have happened on Earth and existing agreements in making sure you are prosecuted for crimes, assuming said crimes were serious enough to be worth the effort involved, or someone kicks up enough of a stink about it. And while there still is plenty of gray area, as soon as space tourism becomes a relatively common thing and people start committing crimes in space, it seems likely that the various nations the world over will quickly develop a comprehensive and more definitive set of rules to govern such things when the need arises.

All that said, there are an awful lot of ways a seemingly innocuous sequence of events can lead to someone’s death in space. Accidents happen- a faulty valve isn’t necessarily proof someone murdered someone else, even if they loathed each other. In some such ways someone could die in space, any halfway decent lawyer could instill reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors, especially if hard evidence couldn’t be attained. After all, the expense of investigating such a crime thoroughly may well be enormous in some cases, thus making it so such a detailed investigation may not be done, or even possible.

So let’s just say in many cases it’s going to be a lot more difficult to tell if there was someone behind such an event, or if it was just an accident… Leading us to perhaps one of the cooler new jobs that are going to be a thing in the coming decades- space detectives.

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Bonus Fact:

Ever wonder what the longest prison sentence ever given out is? Well, wonder no more. This was a whopping 141,078 years. It was given in 1989 in Thailand to Chamoy Thipyaso and each of her seven accomplices for defrauding more than 16,000 Chinese investors as a part of a massive Ponzi scheme.

If you’re wondering, in the United States, the longest sentence for some form of corporate fraud was only 845 years. This was handed down in 2000 to Sholam Weiss, for his role in the collapse of National Heritage Life Insurance. By contrast, Bernie Madoff was only given 150 years for his 2009 conviction of defrauding thousands in a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

The second and third longest prison sentences (for any crime), globally, were given to Jamal Zougam (42,924 years) and Emilio Suárez Trashorras (49,922 years) for their roles in the 2004 train bombings in Madrid.

As for the longest prison term overall in the United States, it was given in 1994 to Charles Schott Robinson who was convicted of six counts of rape garnering him 5,000 years in prison each- a whopping 30,000 year sentence.

Also in Oklahoma, Darron B. Anderson and Allan W. McLaurin each had in the thousands of years ranges of prison time imposed for the kidnapping, robbery and rape of an elderly woman. Anderson was initially only sentenced to 2,200 years, but upon his second trial (he appealed and won a new one), that second jury imposed a sentence of 11,250 years. McLaurin was initially sentenced to 21,250 years, but the appellate court reduced it to a mere 500 years.

The longest prison sentence imposed in Australia was given to Martin Bryant in 1996 for the Port Arthur, Tasmania massacre where he killed 35 and injured 23 others. His sentence included 1,035 years without parole plus 35 life sentences, one for each life he took.

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from Today I Found Out
by Daven Hiskey - December 23, 2019 at 01:56AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Eurogamer.net: December 23, 2019 - Julia Hardy on Christmas

A time of good will, of being kind to people, of the giving of presents and the receiving of criticisms from family members that stab you like tiny daggers in your heart even though 'they're just joking.'

If you're still one of those folks who doesn't 'do their own Christmas' just yet, a sense of dread I'm sure is bubbling up inside as you contemplate going back to your family home to spend some very intensive days with people you don't see all that often. In a situation that seems a bit like being trapped in a nuclear bunker (no natural light, lots of sitting around doing not much, being annoyed at small children being too loud and arguments over food 'rationing.')

At the Hardy home we always argued over two things at Xmas.

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Eurogamer.net: December 22, 2019 at 06:30AM - Ori and the Blind Forest devs are making an action RPG

The team behind Ori and the Blind Forest, Moon Studios, is working on a new action RPG.

Spotted by our pals at VGC, a recent job vacancy advertisement on Gamasutra confirms the studio is recruiting senior designers, and states that "after redefining the Metroidvania genre with the Ori series, [Moon Studios'] next goal is to revolutionise the ARPG genre".

"You've played and studied RPGs your whole life and you still can't get enough of them," the recruitment notice says. "You have a love for all things Diablo, Zelda, Dark Souls and other games in the genre. You'd love the opportunity to work on an RPG that dares to innovate and go far beyond what the genre has offered players thus far."

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Eurogamer.net: December 22, 2019 at 06:06AM - Achievements are finally unlocked on Google Stadia

A month after its official launch, Google has finally unlocked achievements for its streaming service, Stadia.

"Our achievement system is here," Google revealed on its official Twitter account, "and you will now receive notifications when playing on desktop, laptop, and TV. You can view your full achievement list on web, including all the ones you've earned since you began playing Stadia."

If you picked up Stadia at launch and have been merrily playing away for a few weeks now, Google's been tracking all of your achievements to date, so don't worry - Google assures us you won't have to replay to unlock 'em.

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Eurogamer.net: December 22, 2019 at 06:00AM - Ian's top ten best PSVR games of 2019

Welcome one and all to this year's exciting instalment of the Ian's VR Corner Top Ten list where I'll be going over my ten favourite PSVR games of 2019. As per usual, the following list is completely my opinion and it only features games that I myself have played, so if I've missed out one of your favourites, chances are it's either because I thought it was a bit bobbins, or that I just didn't have time to give it a go. Either way, please do share the love for your favourite PSVR games of 2019 in the comments below and hopefully, together, we can inspire others to try them out too.

You can check out the video version of this list just below these words where you can watch footage of each game featured or, if reading is more your thing, you'll find my entire top ten list just under that.

10 - Ghost Giant

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Eurogamer.net: December 22, 2019 at 04:02AM - You can now beat stuff up with your fists in Star Citizen

A new update has just gone live on Star Citizen.

Dubbed "a transformative patch" by the developers, "Alpha 3.8 - New Frontiers" includes "some major new technology to the Star Citizen Universe", including new planetary and tools improvements, planetary weather effects, and server-side object container streaming (SOCS), which is a fancy way of saying the server will use less power. Here's the science bit:

"SOCS will not only improve performance on the server by dynamically loading only what the server needs at that given moment, but more importantly, will enable the game to contain and present exponentially more content to players as it is only updating what it needs to, bringing the dream of a living, breathing universe teeming with experiences one step closer to reality," the press release states.

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Can Police Really Commandeer Your Vehicle Like in the Movies?

Nohomers asks: Can police officers actually commandeer your vehicle like in movies?

Inevitably in any film that has some member of law enforcement as the protagonist at some point said individual will wave their badge, and potentially their gun, at a passing car and demand to commandeer the vehicle. But if you’re ever driving along and some police officer does this, are you actually under any obligation to give up your car to them?

Well, somewhat surprisingly, if you live in many parts of the Western world, particularly most states in the United States, Canada, and in the UK- yes.

This is apparently not just surprising to us, but we read examples from a handful of cops who seemed ignorant of the fact that they could do this, despite the law being quite clear in said regions, and a number of notable court cases backing up the right. And further even backing up the right to demand citizens’ aid in the pursuit of a criminal, even if it puts said citizen in mortal danger.

Going back to property, something that also comes as a bit of a surprise, if said officers damage your vehicle or property while they are using it, or if they even demand you come along to drive them and you get injured, even critically, at least in the United States there’s pretty good legal precedent that you will not be compensated for it. So why are police allowed to do this and does this actually happen very often in real life? And what exactly happens if you refuse?

To begin with, we’ll look at how often this actually happens in real life- while we certainly were able to locate many examples of police officers doing this, it would seem the consensus among most officers is that this is almost never done. As Officer Lee Sands of the LA Police Department states, “I have been around for 23 years and I have never heard where we have had to commandeer a car.”

The problem isn’t so much that they aren’t allowed, but rather that some officers and departments still worry about the liability issue, even though the courts seems to nearly always side with the officers of the law on this one. That said, there is the risk of a judge deciding to buck the trend in a given exact set of circumstances for reasons we’ll get into shortly.

Another reason officers don’t exactly go to commandeering vehicles as their first choice is outlined by officer Jackie Bezart of the Long Beach Police Department: “There are so many things that could go wrong. What is the condition of the car? Is there gas in it?” As an example, we found one instance of an officer commandeering a bicycle only to discover as he chased a criminal that the bike’s brakes didn’t work when he tried to use them… He did not mention how that turned out.

On top of that, many officers we read expressed their concern over injury to citizens and potential damage to their property, not so much for legal liability issues, but just moral ones, not wanting to involve bystanders if they can help it.

And on top of all of that, perhaps the biggest reason of all as to why this isn’t generally done is simply that the vast majority of time with modern law enforcement agencies, there just isn’t a need.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. For example, in 2005 Sheriff Chuck Dunn needed a plane and so called up a local airport and commandeered a Cessna 150 airplane from its owner, Mike Spicer. Spicer was happy to cooperate, and brought along for the flight the mayor of Morganville, Arnie Knoettgen, who was also a reserve deputy.

The pair flew around looking for one Michael Michaud who had fled in his truck after being pulled over and an issue with the truck’s registration was discovered. They soon found the truck and then Michaud lying in thick foliage apparently trying to hide, but was fully visible from the air. Unfortunately for Spicer, as he began to circle above, Michaud pulled out his gun and fired on the plane.

Probably more dumb luck than anything, Michaud was able to shoot Spicer in the head from over a hundred yards away.

While you might think surely this then ended fatally for both Spicer and Deputy Knoettgen, the latter of which not knowing how to fly a plane, in this case, while the bullet struck Spicer’s forehead just above his left eye and he did require a couple hour surgery later, there was apparently no serious damage done.

He later stated, “I knew I had been hit in the head, but I couldn’t feel anything… That’s what really scared me…” As the blood was gushing, he then states he was comforted by the fact that at least he’d get to see his long deceased child soon. But then, “I realized I had to get Arnie back… That kind of brought me back to reality.”

He immediately turned the plane back towards the airport to hopefully land before Spicer passed out. While flying back, he also attempted to teach Knoettgen how to fly and land a plane, just in case. (And if you’re wondering, see our video: Has Any Passenger Ever Successfully Landed an Airplane When Something Happens to the Pilot?)

Once they started their decent to land, Spicer cinched up his seat belt as tight as possible to try to make it so if he passed out during the landing he didn’t slump over on the controls, but then otherwise made a perfectly routine landing.

In a mildly humorous example of a police officer commandeering a vehicle, one Officer Stephen Sanford was urinating on the side of the road when a car sped by and his partner in the police car decided to leave him there with his pants partially down and go give a ticket. A little later, Officer Sanford states,

I heard the alert tone of an officer in danger activate over my radio. I couldn’t see the stop, as dick head [his partner] was over a hill and out of my view. I pulled out my flashlight and waved down the first pair of headlights I saw coming. It was a truck driver. I yelled “Take me down the road, my partner’s in trouble” Dispatch had been screaming at him over the radio, but he wasn’t answering. Man, that truck driver put his best into it, and a mile or so later later, I jumped down, (I hung on the outside of the truck for the ride, cause I’m awesome…) and ran to help the dick head. (Truck driver pulled the semi across two lanes of highway to keep traffic stopped while I figured things out…)

At this point, I was kind of hoping he was getting his ass beat, I was going to help (beat his ass…). He wasn’t. He had accidentally hit the emergency button, and had the volume all the way down on his radio… I canceled the scores of police cars from all across the county burning up tires to help us. I waved the truck driver off, and kicked dickhead out of the driver’s seat. I spent the next two hours… berating him for leaving his partner.

In yet another mildly humorous case, in 2014 in New York city two officers arrested a man, Bryan McMenamin, cuffed him, and put him in the back seat of their vehicle. At a certain point they made a stop off at some location for undisclosed reasons and both officers exited the vehicle… at which point McMenamin managed to get himself into the drivers seat, which apparently still had the keys, and drove off, leaving the officers behind.

One of the officers was injured when he attempted to get back in the car before it sped off, but the other flagged down a Hyundai Sonata and demanded the woman in it give him the car. The problem was, the officer was in plain clothes and at the time had his gun out, leading the woman to believe he was trying to steal her car.

You might think the fact that she thought him a criminal and he had a gun might have induced her to give up the car immediately anyway, but instead she refused. Once the officer pulled out his badge, however, despite that such badges are easy to counterfeit to the extent needed to fool a random citizen, she was satisfied and let him take it. When he returned the car to her, it was damaged and he had been unsuccessful in the chase.

Modern examples out of the way, how did this legal right of officers to commandeer things start? Going back to Merry Ol’ England, what is now commonly referred to as posse comitatus (“the power of the county”) has been common law for many centuries in England and was essentially meant as a way for law enforcement to be able to legally drum up help and equipment as needed.

As described by Judge Jon C. Blue who was involved in the Connecticut Supreme Court case State v. Floyd in which three defendants were being tried for failure to assist a police officer when that aid was demanded by said officer,

The antecedents … are centuries old. Their origins lie not in the urban landscape of present-day America but in the forests and walled cities of medieval England. Long before the creation of organized police forces, the common-law process of apprehending suspected felons was the hue and cry. The person discovering a felony would raise a cry of “Out! Out!” prompting the neighbors to turn out with their bows, arrows, and knives. The “hue” would be passed by horn-blowing from town to town until the ad hoc posse caught the malefactor or gave up the chase. Any malefactor overtaken would receive summary justice.

This was codified in the 1275 First Statute of Westminster which states, “That all generally be ready and appareled, at the Commandment and Summons of Sheriffs, and at the Cry of the Country, to sue and arrest felons, when any need is … and they that will not do so … shall make a grievous fine to the King.”

Later, in the 1887 Sheriffs Act, it states in Section 8:

Every person in a county shall be ready and apparelled at the command of the sheriff and at the cry of the country to arrest a felon whether within a franchise or without, and in default shall on conviction be liable to a fine, and if default be found in the lord of the franchise he shall forfeit the franchise to the Queen, and if in the bailiff he shall be liable besides the fine to imprisonment for not more than one year, or if he have not whereof to pay the fine, than two years.

Jumping back across the pond to the rebels that dared besmirch the King’s good name in the late 18th century, this legal authority of police to drum up a posse or commandeer people’s horses, wagons, houses, guns, whatever, remained a perfectly justified right they had adopted from England. This was particularly handy as the rapidly expanding nation of former terrorists and their descendants claimed the wider land for their own, with law enforcement across the new realm often being woefully understaffed and under equipped to keep the peace.

In fact, for a time, law enforcement could even require local military personnel to assist them as needed until 1878 with the passing of the Posse Comitatus Act in the United States, which in the current version states in part: “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Not strictly about stopping Sheriffs from commandeering military equipment or personnel, the main point was more about reducing the power of the government to use the military for law enforcement purposes.

As for specific laws in modern times, while they vary from place to place, in the UK, for example, while the aforementioned 1887 Sheriffs Act was repealed by the Criminal Law Act of 1967, this remains one of the few common law offences still enforced and there are no limits we could find on the length of imprisonment or fine that can be leveled for refusal, with this being decided on a case by case basis. However, as you might imagine, this is extremely rarely prosecuted in modern times, and even when it is, usually a small fine is the worst of it for the person who refused to comply.

Jumping across the pond, in Canada, the Canadian Criminal Code includes this gem:

Every one who… omits, without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace, after having reasonable notice that he is required to do so, or resists or willfully obstructs any person in the lawful execution of a process… is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or an offence punishable on summary conviction.

In the U.S., the law varies from state to state, and even sometimes within regions in said states, but in the vast majority of states it is required that citizens comply when an officer demands their property or aid when a pressing need is present.

That said, there is an out in some cases. For example, in Alabama, while they do require citizens to aid the police when that is commanded by the officer, it does note, “A person is not liable under this section if the failure or refusal to aid the officer was reasonable under the circumstances. The burden of injecting this issue is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof.” Given what constitutes “reasonable” is very much open to interpretation, this leaves a bit of legal wiggle room, especially if one has a particularly good lawyer.

Noteworthy here, Alabama doesn’t seem to stipulate any age restrictions, so the whole “reasonable” stipulation also gets a toddler out of complying should an officer demand the aid of your little princess in nabbing the bad guy. For the record, most states and countries we looked at stipulate the person needs to be an adult to be required to comply with the request, with 18 usually the age cutoff.

Similarly, while in Colorado the officers do still have this legal ability, in 1999 then Colorado attorney general outlined very specifically why there is still potentially a liability issue a given officer might not want to deal with. He states,

To do so … the sheriff would have to demonstrate that he could not have “fully performed” his peace keeping functions in that situation without the use of that action, and therefore, his power to act was implied. The sheriff would have to justify his actions based on the facts of each situation, and after the actions have occurred. Therefore, the sheriff is taking a legal risk when relying on a later justification of implied powers. By contrast, the use of traditional arrest powers is more appropriate and well defined.

On top of that, on the citizen refusal part, most of the laws regarding this specifically note that the officer must “demand” compliance, potentially giving another out if the officer worded it in the form of a request, such as “Can I use this vehicle to chase down a criminal?” The person in question in many jurisdictions could legally refuse that request, but not if the officer said something like, “I am commandeering your vehicle for official police use. Get out.”

We should also probably mention that “mortal danger” is not considered a valid reason to refuse the request, with a handful of court cases in the last century or so seeming to back this up. One of the most cited cases, even in modern law where this rarely comes up, occurred in the late 19th century in the United States, when a shop owner in Alabama refused to aid an officer in an arrest because of the inherent danger in that instance. Said shop owner was ultimately prosecuted for this, with the court noting, “The fact that there is danger involved is the very thing which calls for and makes obedience a duty.”

And if you’re wondering what happens to you if you do refuse, as alluded to in the UK example, generally you’ll be subjected to some sort of fine, in most places in the U.S. ranging from a small slap on the wrist type fine in the $50-$100 range, to in some cases as much as a few thousand dollars. Jail time is also a possibility in some regions, but we’re guessing it would take a pretty extreme case for a judge to level that against someone, and at least in modern times we couldn’t find any examples of a judge doing this.

Moving on to the lack of compensation or liability by police departments, while exact laws vary, in most cases the authorities are not obligated to give you any compensation, with a handful of court cases illustrating this. Perhaps most famously, in the 1920s a police officer flagged down a taxi and then demanding the driver of said taxi chase after a fleeing car. The cab driver did just that, only to die shortly thereafter in a car crash. His widow was not compensated for this by the police, and further was denied when she tried to sue the Yellow Taxi Corporation for restitution given that he was technically going about his normal duties at the time, even though it was at the request of the police in this case. The 1928 case, Babbington v Yellow Taxi ultimately went against the widow, with the U.S. court citing British common law as justification, and the judge noting, “The horse has yielded to the motorcar as an instrument of pursuit and flight. … We may be sure that the man who failed to use his horse … would have had to answer to the King.”

That said, there are occasional cases where the court did hold the authorities responsible for damage and required they reimburse, it is just rare. But all is not lost necessarily if this happens to you. Some departments will do their best to compensate people in these cases even if they are not strictly obligated to. On top of that, some departments even have internal rules in place, for example under their department’s worker’s compensation plans, to compensate citizens injured while assisting the police. In these cases, sometimes even giving said individual the exact same benefits an officer would have received in similar circumstances. After all, in such a request they are more or less functioning as temporary officers.

And if you happen to be wondering, as we did, if agencies like the FBI ever commandeered vehicles, we couldn’t find any examples of agents doing this and, seeming to corroborate this, FBI Agent Steve Kodak noted, “I have never heard of anyone doing that in my 16 years with the agency…” That said, presumably there are exceptions somewhere.

Also, interestingly enough, it turns out in some regions, for example Connecticut, firefighters are allowed to commandeer vehicles and property if the need arises over the course of their duties. They are also within their rights to demand aid from citizens, with failure to comply in cases of urgent need once again potentially resulting in a fine or jail time.

But to sum up, yes, it turns out, while extremely rare in modern times, in a lot of places in the world, the police are legally able to commandeer your vehicle like in movies should there be a pressing and immediate need, so long as that immediate need is something a lot more serious than a double glazed doughnut. Unless that double glazed doughnut happens to being carried by a fleeing criminal we suppose. Then it’s basically a win/win/win situation for the officer. Get the bad guy in a badass Hollywood way and get delicious clogged arteries and dad-bod at the same time.

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The post Can Police Really Commandeer Your Vehicle Like in the Movies? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Daven Hiskey - December 22, 2019 at 02:27AM
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