As amazing as Half-Life 2 was when it was first released in 2004, time has not been kind to the original release’s graphics, which can look a bit flat and dated compared to modern PC games. Enter Romanian modder Filip Victor, who’s ready to release the final version of a massive, Source engine-powered graphical update for the game on Steam for free tomorrow.
As shown in a slick comparison trailer and detailed in a PDF brochure, Half-Life 2: Update offers graphical improvements like high dynamic range lighting, improved fog and particle effects, world reflections, more detailed water rendering, improved background models, and other effects that just weren’t feasible back in 2004. The update also fixes a number of animation and cut-scene-activation bugs that have persisted in the original release and adds optional fan commentary from a number of high-profile YouTube personalities.
Despite all the graphical changes, the update leaves the original gameplay, level design, character models, textures, and animations intact. “The goal of Half-Life 2: Update is to fix up, polish, and visually enhance Half-Life 2, without ever changing the 2004 original’s core gameplay, or time-tested style,” Victor wrote in the update’s brochure. “I wanted to ensure that the update was something that would be enduring, and worth the time it takes to play it. I hope that both newcomers and veterans of the Half-Life series will enjoy seeing the work that went into its creation.”
Host: Rita Houston
Cameras: Tim Pierson, Will Sanderson, Brenna Keeley
Editor: Brenna Keeley & Deirdre Hynes
Maybe the NSA’s collection of metadata from overseas traffic will end not with a bang but a whimper - it appears that the program is both expensive and not very effective. Before you celebrate however you need to recall that all phone metadata is still collected by your carrier and by law they keep it at least 18 months and they keep it in bill form seven years.
The National Security Agency considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American calling records in the months before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, current and former intelligence officials say, because some officials believed the costs outweighed the meager counterterrorism benefits.
After the leak and the collective surprise around the world, NSA leaders strongly defended the phone records program to Congress and the public, but without disclosing the internal debate.
The proposal to kill the program was circulating among top managers but had not yet reached the desk of Gen. Keith Alexander, then the NSA director, according to current and former intelligence officials who would not be quoted because the details are sensitive. Two former senior NSA officials say they doubt Alexander would have approved it.
Still, the behind-the-scenes NSA concerns, which have not been reported previously, could be relevant as Congress decides whether to renew or modify the phone records collection when the law authorizing it expires in June.
A leading suspect in a deadly museum attack on foreign tourists has been killed in anti-terrorist operations, Tunisia’s prime minister said Sunday.
State news agency TAP cites Prime Minister Habib Essid as saying that Khaled Chaieb, also known as Abou Sakhr Lokman, was killed overnight in an operation in the Gafsa region near the Algerian border. In all, nine terrorist suspects were killed in raids around the country.
Chaieb is believed a prominent militant in al Qaeda’s North African arm, and suspected of leading or helping lead the March 18 attack on the National Bardo Museum.
There are 69 charts in this encouraging but frustrating collection of measurements - I encourage you to view and think about each a couple of minutes before drawing conclusions. In some it’s easy to see pluralities, e.g. where 2/3rds of the public sees climate change as a somewhat serious to very serious problem. In others it’s harder to understand the distinctions and none of these charts should be singled out for some simplex binary either / or view, but instead they should be viewed together and multiplexually. Click on the graphic to popout to the 70 chart slideshow at Pew.
Why a Gay Man Like Me Is Going to Make It Hard for Indiana Shopkeepers to Exercise Their ‘Religious Liberty’
Maybe Indiana could add a rider to the bill declaring that all gays must wear rainbow stars. Of course if that happened everyone who was anyone in Indiana would want to wear one… See John Moyers thoughts on the Indiana devolution below.
Take sexual identity. If every LGBT person out there were a flamboyant drag queen, it might be easier for a merchant to decide who to refuse. But some gay people, like me, are just average white guys — I don’t swish, lisp or call everyone “honey,” and if there’s a song on my lips, it’s more likely Jerry Garcia than Judy Garland.
What’s a God-fearing Indiana merchant to do if I walk in the door? Am I responsible for his damnation if I let him serve me without mentioning that I’m gay and he doesn’t guess it? Must he ask all customers about potential offenses to his faith?
Complicating things is the fact that some straight men are a bit effete and some straight women are kind of butch. Just because God made them like that doesn’t mean their dry cleaning should get turned away.
So, perhaps Indiana now needs a law requiring I.D. cards for all citizens — yellow for the hets, pink for the homos — to protect both the souls and the profits of faithful, freedom-loving Chamber of Commerce members. Or maybe gays should be required to tattoo their foreheads for quick identification. If so, the same should go for straight people who practice oral and anal sex, since what offends some religious beliefs is “sodomy” defined more broadly, not merely loving someone of the same gender.
The 27th marks 20 years that the white supremacist Web site Stormfront has been serving up all forms of hate to its racialist and often violent audience. To mark this occasion, Hatewatch will be running a series of stories about the hate site, its activities, its principals and its funders. We start today with an exposé about Stormfront radio, which the site’s founder Stephen “Don” Black launched about a year ago on the Rense Radio Network. Beamed into hundreds of thousands of homes across North American and Europe, Stormfront radio is now one of the largest purveyors of hate propaganda in the world.
Authorities in Missouri say a heavily armed man with antigovernment views and a “Rambo” personality threatened to kill police officers and expressed hatred of blacks and Muslims before his arrest Wednesday in St. Louis.
David Michael Hagler, 53, who lived on food stamps and part-time work as a landscaper, faces four federal firearms charges, including illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and an unregistered machine gun. He is being held without bond until a preliminary hearing next week, according to court document information.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that FBI agents and police bomb squad teams spent Thursday searching for booby traps in two adjacent St. Louis homes where informants said Hagler had stockpiles of guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and had talked of “mass attacks on (police) officers at funerals or fundraisers.”
Police Commissioner William Evans said Saturday Boston police officer John Moynihan remained in critical condition and a medically induced coma after being shot “without provocation” on Friday night.
At a press conference, Evans called the incident “a real violent confrontation that was clearly unprovoked by our officers,” and added that there is “excellent video” that shows how the events unfolded, CBS Boston reported.
The shooting took place at about 6:40 p.m. Friday in the area of Humboldt Ave. and Ruthven Street in the Roxbury section of Boston.
Moynihan, 34, and five other gang task force members, traveling in two cars, stopped a car after reports of shots fired, Evans said. The commissioner said the officers had blue lights flashing but none had pulled out their weapons.
Arab leaders at a summit in Egypt announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya and as regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran engage in sectarian proxy wars.
Working out the mechanism and logistics of the unified force, an idea floated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, could take months.
Previous similar schemes have failed to produce tangible results in the divided Arab world. The dangers facing the region are stark and complex.
While conflicts intensify in Yemen and Libya, the civil war in Syria is entering its fifth year. Egypt, the most populous Arab state, faces an Islamist militant insurgency.