News of Note from the 2014 Game Developers Conference

Several announcements were made at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), which is running March 17–21 in San Francisco. Here are the ones that interested me: New VR Headsets Oculus VR has a demo of their latest VR headset for developers: Developers Kit 2 (DK2). There’s a video about it on the Oculus website. The cost is $350 USD and will ship around July. There’s still no word on when a consumer version will ship. I’m thinking 2015. Sony announced their competitor to the Oculus Rift, called Project Morpheus. Apparently it doesn’t suck. Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 Games on the Web It will be possible to publish games made with Unity 5 or Unreal Engine 4 directly to the web (so players won’t need a browser plugin like Flash). The games published to the web will use technologies like WebGL and asm.js. Mozilla is helping out. WebGL graphics are quite primitive compared to what’s possible, but if you’re more interested in

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Asimov on His Prolific Writing

Isaac Asimov was known for being a prolific writer. He wrote more than 400 books. In July 1959, he had a lunch with one of his editors, who advised him, “…not to write so busily. He said my books would compete with each other…” The economist’s law of diminishing returns says that producing ten times the quantity does not yield ten times the return. Here’s how Asimov responded: I was rather glum that meal and gave the matter much thought afterward. What I decided was that I wasn’t writing ten times as many books in order to get ten times the monetary returns, but in order to have ten times the pleasure. As far as pleasure was concerned, I had not yet reached the stage of diminishing returns—so I continued to write as quickly and as copiously as ever. Source: Asimov, Isaac. In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954–1978. Doubleday, 1980, page 165.

Isaac Asimov’s Favorite Short Stories

I’ve been reading Isaac Asimov’s two-book autobiography. The first book of the series is In Memory Yet Green. I’m currently at 1941, when he was 21 years old. Asimov wrote his classic short story “Nightfall” in 1941. It’s about what happens on a planet where night rarely comes, because there are several suns. On several occasions, science fiction fans have voted for “Nightfall” as their favorite science fiction short story (not just their favorite Asimov story). But Asimov had other favorites: My own three favorite short stories are, in order: (1) “The Last Question,” (2) “The Bicentennial Man,” and (3) “The Ugly Little Boy.” Source: In Memory Yet Green, page 296 I haven’t read all of Asimov’s science fiction short stories, but of those I have read, “The Last Question” is definitely memorable. Photo Credit: The photo of Heinlein, Sprague de Camp and Asimov is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of

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How I Use DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a web search engine. It’s my default search engine. You might wonder why. What’s wrong with Google? DuckDuckGo promotes itself as a private search engine, but that’s not why I use it. I use DuckDuckGo because it’s like a command-line interface to the Internet. If I want to search for a book named The Great Gatsby, I’d type the following into the search box (or OneBox on Chrome): !a The Great Gatsby If I want to look up “Propane” in Wikipedia, I use: !w Propane If I want to see who registered the domain name, I just enter: !whois DuckDuckGo sends that search to the whois service at If I want to ask Wolfram Alpha a question, I do like so: !wa position of Mars If I want to search Google, I can do that too: !g weather in Burnaby DuckDuckGo has oodles of these “bang commands” (where the exclamation mark is pronounced “bang”). I used to wonder

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Guess Who?

Can you guess who? He was… a perfectionist, a resident of California for most of his life, a master showman, sometimes mean to his employees, and the co-founder of an iconic American company that combines the latest technology with the liberal arts. There are at least two correct answers: Steve Jobs Walt Disney (Yes, I’m still reading that Disney biography.)