All urchins, all the time

Written by admin on 02/01/2019 Categories: 杭州龙凤

Science has placed a large number of resources regarding the urchin genome, including some free content and links to its subscriber only articles, on a single page. If you wish to follow up on any of this information, that's the place to start. In the mean time, we can dive right in. HangZhou Night Net

As I mentioned earlier, echinoderms such as the sea urchin are among the most distant members of the deuterostomes, a group that includes all vertebrates. How distant? The deuterstome common ancestor dates from the pre-Cambrian, and echinoderms with tube feet and a water-based vascular system appear in the early Cambrian, well over 500 million years ago. Echinoderms we can recognize as having modern features became the dominant group following the great Permian-Triassic extinction 250 million years ago. So, the genome, in some ways, provides a glimpse into the distant past, as it reveals what the ancestor to all vertebrates had in its genome half a billion years ago.

Read on for the full story.

The process of obtaining of the genome itself took advantage of a few interesting new ideas in genome sequencing. Much of the sequence was generated with what's called a "whole genome shotgun," a technique that frequently leaves questions regarding the order of sequences and gaps in the final product. In this case, these problems were corrected by the use of large fragments of the genome cloned into bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs).

Normally, sequencing BACs is laborious, but the authors developed a technique that sequenced pools of BACs simultaneously, getting the process done in 1/5 the normal time, and at 10 percent of the usual cost. By arranging the BACs on a grid, they could pool DNA from the columns and rows and sequence it in batches; the source of specific sequences could be identified based on the intersection of the pools that shared the same sequences. The information generated by BAC sequencing was then integrated with the whole genome shotgun sequence by computer. The computer programs that assemble genome sequences had to be altered because the sea urchin population appears to be very diverse, with one base difference per every 50, a level that the assembly programs interpreted as sequencing errors. The authors suggest the diversity results from the urchin's reproductive strategy: they simply release eggs and sperm into the currents, limiting the probability of forming local, inbred populations.

Identifying the genes began before the BAC sequencing was complete. Four separate programs scanned the sequence for features typical of eukaryotic genes and similarity to genes in other organisms. Predicted genes were fed into a database that was accessible to a number of experts in sea urchin biology; they went through and evaluated and annotated the predictions, sharing their work on a listserve set up for the purpose. In the end, the sequence yielded a genome of 814 Megabases, carrying over 23,000 genes. The structure of many of these genes were refined by the use of a whole genome tiling array, which also revealed that nearly half of them are expressed during the first few stages of embryogenesis.

Well over 7,000 of the genes are shared with vertebrates, although a number that appear to be unique to the echinoderms were found. Many of these unique genes are involved in the production of the sea urchin's skeleton, which is composed of calcite, unlike the vertebrate skeleton. As none of other deuterostomes have skeletons, it appears that the formation of mineralized tissue has developed twice within the lineage.

Many classes of related proteins are encoded by multiple genes in vertebrates, in part because that lineage appears to have undergone two whole-genome duplications. Echinoderms seem to have kept a more ancestral genome (no duplications), and many of these proteins are present only as a single copy. In some cases, however, urchins have made up for this with smaller duplications of individual genes—one such case are the small GTPases (including Ras and RABs), which mediate many signaling processes and direct the motion of vesicles around the cell.

There's a few types of genes that sea urchins appear to lack entirely. These include part of the cell's skeleton called the intermediate filaments, as well as the integrins and cadherins which link these filaments to the cell's surface. They also lack the proteins that are needed to form gap junctions, the links between cells that allow electric currents to pass between them—this appears to limit the ways in which the nerves of urchins can propagate signals.

The nervous system in general had a few other surprises. It's been kown that each appendage in sea urchins has a local sensory-motor loop which manages its activities; overall coordination is handled by radial nerve bundles. There are no obvious sensory organs. But the genome reveals a huge number of receptors similar to the ones that mammals use to sense odors, balance, and noise, and there are six different light sensing proteins. Expression analysis shows that many of the sensory genes are expressed in the urchin's tube feet, suggesting a previously unrecognized sensory sophistication.

Some of the biggest differences are apparent in the immune system. The basic building blocks of the deuterostome immune system appear to be ancient: nearly all of the transcription factors and signaling molecules used by vertebrates are present in the urchin genome, including key signaling systems like the Interleukins and Tumor Necrosis Factor. But most of the urchin immune response appears to be based on what's called "innate immunity." Innate immunity typically uses a limited number of receptors that recognize a large number of pathogens. In the sea urchin, that limited number has been expanded to take up nearly three percent of its genes.

Sea urchins, like everything other than jawed vertebrates, don't appear to have the "adaptive immunity" arm of the immune system, which relies on antibodies and the T-cell receptor. Intriguingly, however, the raw material for antibodies may be present. The genes that catalyze the DNA rearrangements that produce unique antibodies, termed RAGs, are present in the urchin genome. Stretches of DNA resembling the raw materials of the variable regions in antibodies are there, too, although they lack the sequences that the RAGs need to generate mature antibody genes. These findings suggest that the production of antibodies isn't much of a vertebrate innovation, as was initially thought. The authors even raise the possibility that the RAGs are mediating the production of some other variable immune molecule—we just don't know how to recognize it yet.

It's hard to tell how to wrap a story like this up, because work like this is so far-reaching. It has answered some outstanding questions, it has removed questions that have lingered over the biology, and it has provided some answers about the genetic raw material that our ancestors had to work with over half a billion years ago. One other thing that's worth noting is that the money for this effort was almost certainly justified by suggesting we'd get exactly these sorts of answers. To me, at least, it appears that us taxpayers have had our money well-spent in this case.

Comments Off on All urchins, all the time

CCP and…White Wolf? Okay, I didn’t see that one coming

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

CCP is a great company: from their customer service to their ability to stay focused on their one product (EVE Online) and really serve the community, I've always been impressed with them. Of course, they're a small company with a fanatical online following, so there isn't a lot of news about them that isn't EVE based. Until now. Did I really think I would wake up and find out that they merged with White Wolf? If I put on my analyst hat and sat down for a month or so to see what quirky mergers I could think of, that probably never would have made it on the table. I'm also going to have to admit in this post that in high school I used to play a lot of World of Darkness pen and paper games with my friends. There, my secret is out. I'm getting geekier by the day. I'm also excited about what this means: HangZhou Night Net

CCP is bringing a range of White Wolf's role-playing properties online, while the table-top publisher will develop card games, RPG systems, novels and more based on the EVE Online universe.

The EVE universe is ripe for this sort of thing, but CCP's access to the World of Darkness gets me all sweaty. The idea of online games with White Wolf's take on Vampires,Werewolves, Changelings, and all the other sundry monsters and backstories from the World of Darkness is enough to get any fan going. CCP's dedication in the online gaming world as well as their attention to detail make them a good match to see if any of this IP will work in the gaming world outside of RPG titles like Vampire: The Masquerade. I can't wait to see what these two companies come up with.

White Wolf and CCP…I just can't get over it. This makes me want to get out my old source books, order a large pizza or two, grab a bag of die, and spend a weekend giving those Sabbat punks a what for.

Comments Off on CCP and…White Wolf? Okay, I didn’t see that one coming

Online education continues to grow in higher-ed

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

According to a new report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education, more students than ever before have been taking online courses. The full report, entitled "Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States 2006," estimates that nearly 3.2 million students took at least one online course during the fall 2005 term, an increase of nearly a million people from the previous year.HangZhou Night Net

Nearly three-quarters of those hopping online to learn are undergraduate students looking to complete either Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees, while most of the rest are doing work towards a Master’s designation. Among undergrads, the majority of students are in Associate’s programs.

More than 96 percent of schools with more than 15,000 students offer some form of online courses. About two-thirds of the very largest organizations offer complete programs online which purport to allow students to complete nearly all of their degree work remotely. These figures, which have also increased from 2004, show that online education has definitely entered the mainstream as far as higher education is concerned. The overall percentage of schools who identified online education as a critical long-term strategy grew from 49 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2005.

Not all the news about online education is positive. Educators still have some concerns about the extra discipline required from online students compared to their in-class counterparts. In general, the report says, teachers believe that it takes more effort to teach a class online than face-to-face. However, the consensus among educators was that evaluation was no more difficult in online courses.

Just as important, the report says that college and university education leaders by and large believe that online education is as good as traditional face-to-face education, with nearly 17 percent saying that it’s actually better. Of course, those same leaders are in charge of developing and ultimately marketing their own online programs, which undoubtedly leads some of them to be bullish in their assessments.

Whatever the case, online education is indeed growing rapidly, but the overwhelming majority of students who use it are supplementing traditional face-to-face education, not replacing it. Will that change? According to the report, educators generally feel that it is the student themselves that are holding back online education, with nearly two-third suggesting that the biggest challenge facing students is their own discipline to complete an online course.

After all, at least with traditional face-to-face education, regular course meetings help to keep students on track, even if they show up to class only to hop on the Wi-Fi and surf the day away.

The study (PDF) was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board.

Ken Fisher contributed to this report.

Comments Off on Online education continues to grow in higher-ed

$1 of Zune price goes straight to Universal Music, won’t pass “go”

Written by admin on 08/05/2019 Categories: 杭州龙凤

Microsoft’s Zune media player, due for retail release next week, will have the support of Vivendi Universal in an unusual contract form. For every $249 Zune player sold, Universal will get $1 (subscription required) to make up for the “unauthorized content” the company expects will make its way onto the device.HangZhou Night Net

Universal says that half of the fees collected will be passed on to its stable of recording artists, including U2, Jay-Z, Linkin Park, Luciano Pavarotti, and Bon Jovi. The rest will presumably pad Vivendi’s income statement a bit and make up for some of the lost CD sales revenue the industry bemoans at every opportunity.

Microsoft says it is discussing similar deals with other studios. The Zune has a wireless song-sharing feature that could raise the hackles of music industry executives, and at less than 0.5 percent of the total sale price, Universal’s cut appears rather reasonable. The motivation for it, however, is open for discussion.

“The only factor was that we feel that there’s a great deal of music that’s (stored) on these devices that was never legitimately obtained, and we wanted to get some sort of compensation for what we thought we’re losing,” said Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris, a previous acquaintance here at Ars. “I want our artists to be paid for the music that makes these devices popular.” He then goes on to lament the fact that end users tend to rip their own CDs onto iPods and other music players.

I’m sorry, but Universal already got paid for that content when the CD was sold, and ripping the songs for use on newfangled digital music players falls squarely under “fair use.” Why should I have to pay Apple for a digital copy of Living on a Prayer when I already own Slippery When Wet? Yet that’s exactly what Morris wants to see. The studios have the right to refuse access to their catalogs for any particular digital music service, and they use that trump card to squeeze every penny they can out of the common consumer.

Comments Off on $1 of Zune price goes straight to Universal Music, won’t pass “go”

Head of ESA: Don’t call us “video gamers”

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

Doug Lowenstein, the head of the Entertainment Software Association, is unhappy with the popular term “video game” being used to describe, well, video games. He believes that using the term “game” belittles the industry, preventing it from being taken seriously.HangZhou Night Net

His suggested replacement terms are “interactive entertainment,” which evokes memories of 1990s CD-based shovelware and the horrid Phillips CD-i, or “entertainment software,” which his organization has already been using for some time with little effect.

Lowenstein’s suggestions are unlikely to have much impact in the popular vernacular. After all, we don’t go around calling movies “celluloid entertainment” or TV shows “entertainment broadcasts.” However, it is worth looking at what prompted the ESA head to make these comments in the first place.

The term “video games” is often used as a pejorative by people with an axe to grind against the industry. It is often said in a dismissive tone, sometimes by people who prefer other forms of entertainment (for example, Roger Ebert’s infamous declaration that video games could never be art). There is also a curious disconnect with members of the older generation, who occasionally get the term “gaming industry” mixed up with the gambling industry, which is ironic as casinos originally adopted the term in order to appear more respectable.

For the younger generation, none of this may seem a pressing issue. But they are not the ones who are trying to ban violent video games, or set up government-controlled organizations to regulate their content. For over a decade, the video game industry has been a popular whipping-boy for politicians eager to capture quick and easy “think of the children!” votes. It is this assault that Lowenstein is hoping to mitigate somewhat by raising people’s opinion of the industry itself.

It may be a long, uphill battle, but in the long term, victory is probably inevitable. As the current politicians age and fade off into the sunset, they will be replaced with people who have never known a world without video games. Like the movie and television industries before them, respect will come by default, as games become just as commonplace.

Comments Off on Head of ESA: Don’t call us “video gamers”

Are our brains a gift of the Neanderthals? (Part I)

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

As many of you that follow science news are probably already aware, one of the hot topics this week is our brains. New evidence suggests that modern humans may have picked up a key genetic change that influences our brains from a species that has an undeserved reputation as being a bit on the dim side: the Neanderthals. But to understand the evidence, some knowledge of evolutionary biology is going to be needed. So read on to learn more than you ever wanted to know about selective sweeps. HangZhou Night Net

The underlying principle of evolution is that a useful genetic change in a gene will, thanks to selective pressures, become the dominant form of that gene in a species. The more useful it is, the faster this will happen. But genes don't exist as free-floating items: they are arranged along chromosomes, immense molecules of DNA that are key units of inheritance. Genes on the same chromosome are likely to be inherited together, so a chromosome carrying a useful change could be pulled into prevalence by that change. That means that a bunch of other useless changes (and possibly a few harmful ones) will also be taken along for the ride. In short, one helpful change can not only make its way to being the most common form, but it will carry along anything else in the DNA that's near it. This process is called a selective sweep.

The one thing that gets in the way of selective sweeps working with an entire chromosome is recombination, the shuffling of the genes that occurs with sexual reproduction. This process allows two of the same type of chromosomes to exchange pieces at random points along their length. Because of recombination, the chromosomes you got from your mother are a patchwork of pieces of the chromosomes of both of your maternal grandparents. Over time, recombination will shuffle the areas near useful changes, and gradually return them to looking pretty average. The longer the time, the more likely that recombination will occur in the region, and the more average looking the area will be. So, over time, the evidence of older selective sweeps will gradually fade into obscurity.

What does this look like at the DNA level? For a gene that's undergone a recent selective sweep, everyone in the population will have an identical (or nearly identical) DNA sequence. But it doesn't stop with the gene; even the areas around it will be identical, because they haven't had time to recombine. The more recent the sweep, the further away from the gene the identical sequences will extend. Thus, by looking for regions of the genome where there is a high degree of identity within a population, researchers can find genes that are being selected for. By looking at how far the identical regions extend, they can get a sense of how long ago the change that's being selected for appeared in the genome.

In essence, the Neanderthal story is based on researchers finding an area of the human genome that appears to have undergone a selective sweep, and figuring out the when, where, and why of its origin. Stay tuned to find out the details.

Comments Off on Are our brains a gift of the Neanderthals? (Part I)

Gates: competitors tried to “castrate” Vista

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

With Vista just released to manufacturing, Bill Gates told reporters in Europe that antitrust concerns had not caused Microsoft to cut features from the operating system. Gates insisted that “the idea that we should make Windows better is a pretty pro-consumer idea,” according to the Wall Street Journal.HangZhou Night Net

Although his company has had discussions for years with regulators, Gates said that none of them ever insisted that specific features be removed from Vista. The main regulator that concerns Microsoft is the European Commission, which has already fined the software giant millions of euros and has entertained visits from many Microsoft rivals. The Commission has repeatedly said that it will not issue an approval to products in advance, since doing so would amount to government censorship. And while the Commission itself may not have asked Microsoft to remove any features, the company was certainly aware of what competitors were making trips to Brussels.

These included several security vendors concerned about the expansion of Microsoft’s security offerings, and Gates had nothing postive to say about his rivals. He told reporters that competitors wanted to “castrate” the new operating system, which begs the obvious question: if Vista gets castrated, does it just become one of many UNIX?

Competitors did convince Microsoft to make some changes, but the company argues that it has not made Vista any less secure as a result. Sven Hallauer, the Director of Program Management at Microsoft, said in a separate statement that “security is top of mind for all who work at Microsoft.” He pointed to the company’s Secure Development Lifecycle plan for writing better code as an example of the process changes that Microsoft has made in order to increase security. Hallauer claims that an analysis of reported problems with Windows XP shows that the majority of them would be eliminated or reduced simply by switching to Vista.

Business users can find out whether the hype matches the reality on November 30, when Microsoft is planning a launch party for its corporate customers. Consumers will have to wait until January 30.

Comments Off on Gates: competitors tried to “castrate” Vista

Are our brains a gift of the Neanderthals? (Part II)

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

With an understanding of selective sweeps out of the way, we can move onto the results presented in a new, open access article about a potential selective sweep. The change involved is in the middle of a gene that's critical for brain development, microcephalin. Loss of this gene reduces the size of the human brain by three- to four-fold, and a specific form of the gene (we'll call it allele D) appears to do something useful for modern brains, as it's present in 70 percent of the modern human populations, with even higher frequencies in some geographic regions (more on that later). Based on the size of the region that's been in on the selective sweep, the D allele seems to have appeared in the human lineage about 37,000 years ago, well after the origin of modern humans 100,000-200,000 years ago. HangZhou Night Net

But the authors note that, if the D allele had been generated by a mutation on a normal chromosome at that time, its sequence should resemble at least some alleles still present in the remaining 30 percent of chromosomes. They don't. After sequencing 30 kilobases from about 200 chromosomes, they found that the typical variation among non-D sequences was about 20-30 bases across this region. But comparing these to the D allele showed that the variation shot up to 70-80 bases. The D allele was so different, it almost looked like it had arrived from outer space—it certainly doesn't appear to have been the product of a traditional selective sweep.

Of course, claiming "aliens did it!" is not a good way to get a paper accepted by PNAS. Since the sequences looked as if they had come from different species, the authors treated them that way, and looked to see if they had a common ancestor. They did, but the big surprise was when: the best estimate was 1.1 million years ago, well before modern humans existed. The authors looked at a series of ways in which two alleles of a gene could have avoided recombining with each other for that sort of stretch of time, but found that none of them fit the data as well as the simplest one: the D allele was hiding out in a separate species entirely, and only found its way back into modern humans thanks to a rare (perhaps singular) case of interbreeding. Its reappearance in modern humans is the product of what's termed introgression; the introgression was then followed by a selective sweep.

Modern humans originated in Africa, but by 37,000 years ago, were spreading around the globe, where they undoubtedly came into contact with the earlier species that had preceded them. Which of these predecessor species did we pick up microcephalin D from? This is where the geography came in. The D allele should be present at the highest rates where it's been around the longest—this happens to be Europe. And 37,000 years ago in Europe would mean the last days of the Neanderthals, a separate species that split from modern humans over 500,000 years ago.

The authors note that people have looked for signs of Neanderthal genes before, but haven't found any. But they point out that, in the absence of extensive interbreeding, small amounts of Neanderthal DNA would likely have been lost to genetic drift over the millenia. It is only the strong advantage provided by microcephalin D that appears to keep it visible. They also note that we shouldn't be surprised that the Neanderthals might have some very useful genes; after all, they were occupying some environments for hundreds of thousands of years before modern humans got there, and had plenty of time to adapt to them.

Comments Off on Are our brains a gift of the Neanderthals? (Part II)

GameStop to begin Wii preorder this evening. Terrible bundle included!

Written by admin on 08/04/2019 Categories: 杭州龙凤

GameStop is being nice enough to open up online preorders for the Wii this evening, so prepare to get your clicking-finger ready, because they're probably going to go fast. Or maybe gamers will just decide to give the chain a different finger because of the terrible forced bundle being shoved down their throats. That said, I'm confident the bundle will find many takers, simply because people are itchy about making sure they get a system. Here's what you get: HangZhou Night Net

Nintendo Wii Console (includes 1 remote controller, 1 nunchuck, cables, sensor bar, console stand, and Wii Sports game) Wii Memory SD 1GB Additional Wii Remote Controller 6 Games:

Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessTrauma Center: Second OpinionRed SteelMarvel Ultimate AllianceSuper Monkey Ball Banana BlitzMadden NFL 2007

12 Month Product Replacement Plan Game Informer Gift Subscription $694.88 plus tax and handling All products in this bundle are included at the regular retail price. All included games are $49.99 each.

I like how they point out at the bottom that they're not cutting you a deal here. All these items are regular price; you simply have to buy them if you want to preorder a Wii system online with them. Is anyone that desperate? I actually was thinking about preordering a Wii online as long as the bundle was something along the line of the system, an extra controller or two, and maybe two or three games. Even that is too much for many gamers. The bundle detailed here? In a word, overboard.

It's a $250 system, and the entry-level price for it if you want to buy it online through GameStop is $700. No thanks. I don't need a Game Informer subscription that bad.

Comments Off on GameStop to begin Wii preorder this evening. Terrible bundle included!

A Four Course Course

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

You don't get in to CalTech without near perfect college entrance exam scores, a 4.0 grade point average throughout high school, and often, at least one nationally recognized scientific achievement by the time you apply. The scientific rigor of what is arguably one of the two elite centers for scientific learning in the world (MIT being the other) is exemplified in some of its course titles: ChE 110 Optimal Design of Chemical Systems, Ma 105Elliptic Curves,Ph 12 Waves, Quantum Physics, and Statistical Mechanics, andAPh/BE 161 Physical Biology of the Cell. Nestled among these rigorous courses isPA 16. Cooking Basics. That's right, often while trying to learn about the intricacies of the natural world around us, many college students never are taught now to cook for themselves—Ramen noodles and 7-11 "cheeseburger chili dogs" at 4:15am (spoken from this author's personal experience) not withstanding. HangZhou Night Net

In a class introduced a few semesters ago, CalTech's Assistant Vice President of Campus LifeThomas N. Mannion began teaching the course in his own home, which is complete with a professional kitchen. Being CalTech, it does seek to teachthe technical aspects of cooking as well: the textbook is"On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen", a text which focuses on the science of flavor—authored by a CalTech alum, no less. Now Prof. Mannion, along with a set of six helpers—students who previously attended the course—teach young chefs how to make a veritable feast of epicurean delights. From fresh biscuits to cheese laden grits to herb crusted roast tenderloin, the students learn how to make food to impress even those with the most discriminating taste buds.

While not taught by one of CalTech's six Nobel laureates, they too take part in this class. The final exam meal is judged by a panel of past Nobel prize winners. Not only are CalTech's resident scientists in on this sweet deal, students in the class have prepared meals for and dined with Stephen Hawking, and Jean-Lou Chameau, CalTech's newly named president. I think this represents a wonderful trend. Too often scientists become myopic regarding what's important in this world. I have found that those who make the best scientists and engineers have interests that lie well outside of science and engineering. By opening student's eyes to other paths will allow them to be more well rounded, and hopefully inspire them to go onto even greater scientific achievements.

Comments Off on A Four Course Course

Novell announces the release of Mono 1.2

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

Linux distributor Novell has announced the official release of Mono 1.2. The latest version of Novell’s increasingly popular open source .NET implementation features performance and stability improvements, improved Java functionality, and support for Microsoft’s WinForms API. HangZhou Night Net

An important milestone leading up to Novell’s goal of .NET 2.0 support, the inclusion of the WinForms API in Mono 1.2 significantly simplifies the process of porting .NET applications from Windows to Linux and other supported platforms. Developers can now use WinForms to produce cross-platform compatible user interfaces for .NET applications. Mono 1.2 could potentially facilitate broader deployment of existing .NET applications, and reduce development overhead associated with cross-platform compatible desktop software. Here at Ars, we have been watching the progress of Mono WinForms development for several months. Mono has come a long way since some of the first GDI examples where demonstrated early this year.

Relatively high memory consumption and performance bottlenecks are commonly perceived as being amongst Mono’s most significant weaknesses. Some critics frequently refer to various performance issues to support arguments against broader adoption of Mono technology in open source projects, most notably within the GNOME community. The performance improvements in Mono 1.2 could potentially address such criticisms, but it is likely that a lot more work will be required before the problems are completely resolved.

Mono—which is used in a number of high-profile open source desktop applications like Beagle, F-Spot, and Banshee—is rapidly becoming an integral part of the Linux desktop. Mono is also being adopted by some proprietary software vendors that wish to incorporate integrated .NET scripting support into cross-platform desktop applications. Developers of Second Life, for instance, have considered using Mono to provide a more sophisticated scripting system for the popular virtual world software.

Although Mono technology has been adopted with great enthusiasm by many users and developers, Novell’s recent agreement with Microsoft has created some uncertainty within the open source community, and some fear that the software infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property, creating the risk of potential litigation. In response to concerns voiced by the community, Mono developer Miguel de Icaza wrote a blog entry to clarify several issues. According to de Icaza, Mono currently does not infringe on any of Microsoft’s patents, and infringing code will not be added in the future.

Comments Off on Novell announces the release of Mono 1.2

AMD talks about processor shortages

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

Over the last few weeks, reports of AMD processor shortages have run rampant. Dell has said they have had a good supply of chips from the CPU maker, but others have said that the company’s higher-end parts are difficult to come by for both OEMs and at retail. Ars talked to Stephen DiFranco, AMD corporate VP of marketing, and John Taylor, director of product communication, to get the scoop on what’s causing the channel problems the CPU maker has been experiencing lately. HangZhou Night Net

DiFranco says that the main issue is stronger-than-anticipated consumer demand which has peaked ahead of time. "Typically, the channel prefers a lot of inventory in December," DiFranco said. "This year we have seen demand spike earlier than anticipated, and our engineering inventory has been off."

While demand from Dell has obviously grown with the introduction of Athlon desktops and Turion laptops, AMD says that Dell is not the cause of the difficulties. "Dell is really not a factor," said DiFranco. "We just got notebooks on Dell’s web site in the last couple of days, and desktops in the past six to eight weeks."

According to DiFranco, the issues this time around are of a different nature from the processor shortages the CPU maker experienced in late 2005. "At that point it was increased interest across our entire product line," according to DiFranco. "We had very good server products, very good desktop products, and we had just launched the Turion. At the same time, our competitor [Intel] was challenged a bit on chips. These are different dynamics."

Early next year, AMD will launch its mutisocket, multicore 4×4 platform. Even though it will take even more silicon to crank out two dual-core CPUs, AMD doesn’t see 4×4 contributing to the supply issues the company has been experiencing. "It won’t have any dramatic effect," DiFranco told Ars. "People interested in 4×4 are primarily gamers and the high-end desktop market—a special part of the marketplace. It’s high-profile, but not high-volume."

Currently, AMD operates two CPU fabrication facilities, with some CPU production handled by Chartered Semiconducting. Fab 36 is churning out 300mm wafers while Fab 30 is still producing 200mm wafers. Fab 30 is in the midst of being transformed into Fab 38, which wil begin producing 300mm wafers once that transformation is complete. Taylor tells Ars that "Chartered is working with us to adopt AMD’s patented Automated Precision Manufacturing and our lean manufacturing approach, which will eventually include 65nm." AMD’s first processors made on a 65nm process will begin appearing next month.

With demand from OEMs strong, will the enthusiast community get the short end of the stick? "We don’t expect our users to jump brand," DiFranco remarked. "Their loyalty comes from many years of dedication, and they’re a sophisticated group. We think they will stay loyal over the long term; they’re better served by sticking with AMD technology."

Both DiFranco and Taylor were mum on the recently announced Fusion project, which aims to stick CPU and GPU on a single piece of silicon. AMD will be offering more information on Fusion next month, along with an update on their overall product roadmap. That will include the first official glimpse at what the combined AMD-ATI has in store.

Comments Off on AMD talks about processor shortages

Will Resistance: Fall of Man impress with its story?

Written by admin on  Categories: 杭州龙凤

After being able to spend some significant time with Gears of War, I'm very impressed with the game, although it's a pretty linear experience. There is a lot of history in the game world, and while you get some hints at it, there's not a lot of story going on as you play. While I still think the game is very strong, I do wish for a little more character development or some more information about what the world was like before the Locusts; I want to know what exactly we're fighting for. Is it as simple as survival? HangZhou Night Net

No one is going to say that the story is a strong point of Gears of War; luckily the rest of the game is good enough that we're willing to overlook the fact that it's something of a shallow experience in terms of character. It elicits an emotional reaction, sure, but doesn't do much with it. I'm looking forward to playing Resistance: Fall of Man so I can compare and contrast the two games, and this quote about the game from the gaming blog over at Mercury News has me excited:

"Resistance'' is very impressive. Can't decide yet if it has enough "wow" factor to be a symbol of the PS3's power or is just an excellent launch game that will be topped by a second or third wave of games. I'll say this: story almost never means anything to me in a shooter, yet I like the way this narrative is unfolding. So far, it's an integral part of the experience for me, and that's saying something.

That's good news and makes me even more excited about the title. It's easy for a shooter to get you pumped, and as I've noted before, Gears of War does a good job of portraying war as a dirty, terrible thing. Having a strong story going through a game will only improve it. Here's hoping Resistance lives up to this promise.

Comments Off on Will Resistance: Fall of Man impress with its story?