Non-game


There’s a duel going on at the highest levels of Pennsylvania’s government, and more than 23,000 people have taken part in it. This face-off isn’t taking place in the state Capitol building or the state Supreme Court; rather, it’s on the world wide web. The combatants: Dueling tax calculators.

(full article)


Minnesota’s budget this year is deep in red ink — $4.2 billion in the red. Programs need to be cut, money needs to be raised, and the governor and the state legislature are braced for some tough decisions.

Minnesota Public Radio, however, doesn’t think the elected officials should have all the fun. So MPR recently created "Budget Balancer," an interactive exercise that invites ordinary people to help solve the state’s budget problems.

(full article)


Almost six in 10 Bowie families had annual incomes of more than $75,000 in 1999, according to data from the 2000 U.S. Census. More than half of those families had incomes over $100,000 a year. 

This data stands in contrast to that for Prince George’s County, where 39 percent of families had incomes over $75,000 in 1999.

(full article)


The recent sniper shootings in the Washington area have rekindled a national and local debate about the viability of using ballistic fingerprinting to link crimes to specific guns. 

Police, experts and lobbyists disagree about whether ballistic and toolmark identification, commonly referred to as ballistic fingerprinting, is an effective way to link bullets found at crime scenes to the guns that fired them.

(full article)


A Complete Breakdown of the 2002 Invitational Championship Round

Anyone who’s been with TopCoder for long enough should be used to the troubles that occasionally come up during Single Round Matches. Whether it’s due to an error in the problem statement, system testing or some other part of the process, sometimes there is an issue that compromises the fairness or feasibility of counting the results of a contest. Some coders get mad about having their 75 minutes of hard work thrown out, but most of them accept that accidents do happen.

When there’s a similiar problem at a $150,000 tournament, though, people tend to be less accepting.

(full article)


The Challenge Phase throws off a lot of newcomers to the TopCoder competition arena. While the Coding and System Testing phases replicate real world situations that most coders are familiar with, debugging someone else’s code in the Challenge Phase is a task that may be unfamiliar to many new coders.

By making you look at other people’s code and evaluate the best way to break it, the Challenge Phase forces you to flex your brain in new and different ways from normal coding. Some coders just don’t have a knack for challenges, and they rely on quick, accurate coding to get them through the contest. Others, however, are masters of finding those little bugs in a person’s code that invalidate their entire solution and make their 75 minutes of hard work meaningless.

These coders make up TopCoder’s list of the 25 best challengers. I talked with two coders on this list — and one who is almost on it — about what the Challenge Phase means to them, their memories of challenges past, and how they got to be so good at breaking people’s code.

(full article)


The Rouse Company is set to build a new housing community on the site of the old Fairwood Turf Farm over the objections of the Bowie City Council. 

Rouse, in conjunction with seven local builders, plans to develop the 1,000-acre, 1,800-home community despite the council’s concerns about potential effects on Bowie’s public resources.

(full article)


Just a few months after a special election put him in office, Prince George’s County Councilman Tony Knotts seems confident that his focus on education and commercial development will lead him to victory over Henry Nichols Nov. 5. 

Knotts, D, a 20-year lobbyist for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, is running against Nichols, R, the founder and president of Ace Mortgage Funding Group, in a repeat of the May special election that replaced Isaac Gourdine, who died in February.

(full article)


Serious crime in Bowie rose almost 16 percent for the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the Bowie Office of Public Safety. 

The increase was less than the 22 percent rise in serious crimes for Prince George’s County’s Police District 2, which includes Bowie, but far outpaced a 6 percent rise for the county as a whole.

(full article)


The Terrapin Anime Society is looking to raise awareness of their club among the university population and increase their declining membership after losing many members to graduation last year.

About 20 people were in and out of the club’s first meeting earlier this month, down from crowds of 100 or more that filled Hornbake Library’s fourth-floor viewing gallery in years past.

(full article)


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