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1. Hiatus
2. RIP, Satoru Iwata
3. Let there be Robot Battles
4. Regarding pixel art!
5. 16-bit Star Wars
6. Goodbye, Spock.
7. James Randi Retires
8. More Star Wars on GOG
9. Archive.org gives you DOS Games
10. Ralph Baer, RIP.
1. Quickie: Impressions June 2014
2. Quickie: Penny Arcade Episode 3
3. Quickie: The Amazing Spider-Man
4. Quickie: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
5. Quickie: Prototype 2
6. Quickie: Microsoft Kinect
7. Quickie: X-Men Destiny
8. Spider-Man: Edge of Time
9. Quickie: Transformers Dark of the Moon
10. Quickie: Borderlands GOTY
1. Musings 45: Penny Arcade and The Gripping Hand
2. Movie Review: Pacific Rim
3. Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph
4. Glide Wrapper Repository
5. Movie Review: Winnie The Pooh
6. Musings 44: PC Gaming? Maybe it's on Life Support
7. Video Games Live 2009
8. Movie Review: District 9
9. Musings: Stardock, DRM, and Gamers' Rights
10. Musings: How DRM Hurts PC Gaming
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Topic: Personal Stuff/Random News

The new items published under this topic are as follows.
 Jan 20, 2016 - 09:19 PM - by Michael
Hiatus
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Personal Stuff/Random News Due to a burglary of Glide Underground HQ this summer and other ongoing life events, GU is on an extended hiatus until further notice.

Sorry.
 

 Jul 06, 2015 - 11:36 AM - by Michael
Let there be Robot Battles
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Personal Stuff/Random News ... it is ACTUALLY on. (Courtesy of the Telegraph)

"We can’t let another country win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture. But you know, we really need… Melee combat."
On a YouTube comment underneath its own video, MegaBots said: "Suidobashi accepted the challenge! And demands hand-to-hand combat!"
However, it did not say whether or not it agreed to the terms.



 

 May 13, 2015 - 08:38 AM - by Michael
Regarding pixel art!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sad days, but... pixel art is hard. A developer hanging up the low-res hat explains why.

The pixels in Mighty Final Fight contain actual information. To illustrate, I drew a higher- resolution extrapolation based on the information coded into these little squares. As you can see, I was able to infer a ton of detail and depth from Guy, but even though both examples use virtually the same amount of pixels, I could barely do anything with Rambo.

Techniques like those used in Mighty Final Fight, we have only retroactively come to call “pixel art techniques.” If the artists of the time had access to better production tools, I’m sure they would have been thrilled. “Pixel art” was never a thing – nobody was thinking “I think we’ll go with pixel art for this game.” Rather, they were simply working in the “H-est D” available to them.
 

 Feb 27, 2015 - 11:29 AM - by Michael
Goodbye, Spock.
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 Jan 28, 2015 - 09:23 AM - by Michael
James Randi Retires
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Personal Stuff/Random News I can only say: You're an amazing individual and thank you for the years of insight, laughs, and logic.

James Randi retires from the JREF.

At 86 years of age, I feel that it’s now well time to officially retire, so I’m stepping down from my position with the JREF – the James Randi Educational Foundation.

This doesn’t mean that I’m retiring from my battle against the so-­called psychics, faith healers, paranormalists, and the assorted frauds I’ve encountered in my worldwide wanderings. I’ll in no way relax the critical attention I’ve given to them over the last busy 73 years, I promise you. I’ll still lecture and write, here and abroad – but now on my own time – not on the exhausting schedule that I’ve had these past few years.

I can celebrate the fact that there now exist so many very active, eager, and competent skeptical organizations – on an international scale – some of which may very well have come into being because of the example provided to them by the JREF.
 

 Dec 07, 2014 - 04:54 PM - by Michael
Ralph Baer, RIP.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Usually I try to write something when someone passes on. But I really have almost nothing to say for Ralph Baer's passing.

Well, except this.

Thank you.
 

 Dec 05, 2014 - 06:24 PM - by Michael
New Star Trek
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Personal Stuff/Random News For those into fan productions, Star Trek New Voyages / Phase II have their newest episode, "Mind Sifter", up for watching.

This is the first one NOT featuring James Cawley as Captain Kirk.

Episode link: http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/?page_id=5083.

Synopsis: When the crew of the Enterprise is forced to accept the death of Captain Kirk, Spock and McCoy must come to terms with their own grief, but when Spock discovers a plot by the Klingons to send Kirk back in time in order destroy the Federation, it will take all the courage and abilities of the crew of the Enterprise to rescue their beloved Captain in time before he succumbs to the horrific torture of the Mind-Sifter.
 

 Sep 30, 2014 - 02:09 PM - by Michael
Destiny: Second Thoughts
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Personal Stuff/Random News As I move on playing Destiny, a few thoughts I've compiled.

#1 - I can see why some reviewers panned the game's leveling system. Characters rush fast to level 20 and then the "armor-based leveling system", involving Light Points, turns the game into a maddening slow slog of desperately trying to get either random loot drops (more on that in a minute) or else grinding furiously to get the various currencies to buy higher-powered armor from the vendors. It's a novel concept but not what I necessarily call a FUN concept, and more often than not it's simply infuriating.

#2 - Related: the loot system is bollocks. Pure, unadulterated horse turds. It's so completely broken that Bungie have admitted they need to take it back to formula.

The underlying problem is this:

"They're not even rare socks."

About the third or fourth time after you turn in a set of blue engrams, desperately hoping for better gear, and wind up with a combination of green garbage and stuff you can't use? Yeah, you lose all hope for the loot system in the game.

#3 - The final point, honestly, is that there is far less content in the game than there should be. Most of the game's content involves grinding, grinding, grinding, and re-playing missions with "modifiers."

Re-doing the same strikes over and over again.
Re-doing the same storyline missions over and over again.
Re-doing the same repetitive tasks trying to grind for better gear.

Even the community event going through the end of this week - the "Queen's Wrath" event - just re-treads a bunch of storyline missions, sending players off to shoot and kill a horde of named enemies they've killed a hundred times before.

It's wearing thin, quickly.
 

 Sep 09, 2014 - 04:49 PM - by Michael
Diggin' In The Carts
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Personal Stuff/Random News As an aficionado of music of all sorts... this needs to be spread.

Go watch Diggin' In The Carts.. Just do it. You will find your mind enriched and your time rewarded.

There's nothing like some good history, especially video game history.
 

 Aug 28, 2014 - 01:31 PM - by Michael
A dark day for gaming
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is just downright... I have lost the words.

Anita Sarkeesian has gotten death and rape threats before for her critiques of the video gaming industry. But this week, the harassment got so bad that she was driven out of her home.
After releasing her newest web series Feminist Frequency’s “Tropes vs. Women,” which focuses on how women are depicted in pop culture and video games, Sarkeesian has suffered an onslaught of online harassment. Immediately following the series’ latest installment, “Women as Background Decoration (Part 2),” that harassment escalated, causing her to call law enforcement and flee her home:


Those who did this? THEY are the ones who ought to be removed from the gaming community. This is basically what we've gotten for the way that online gaming has allowed to continue - I don't play much online at all, never in the "open queues" of games, especially not when voice chat from the other side is required to be accepted. I learned my lesson with the immature brats playing Halo and Settlers of Catan (seriously, they'd abuse people over a freaking board game) and it's high time that the gaming industry either grew up, or learned that unrestricted, unmoderated "online play" only encourages these trolls.
 

 Aug 25, 2014 - 08:03 AM - by Michael
Goodbye to John Hammond
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Personal Stuff/Random News Richard Attenborough has passed away.

He'll be missed, especially with Jurassic World coming back so soon. If anyone managed to be John Hammond (even though he didn't die in the movie, as in the book), he was the perfect casting.
 

 Aug 11, 2014 - 06:52 PM - by Michael
RIP, Robin Williams
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Personal Stuff/Random News A sad day... Robin Williams will be missed. Nanu, nanu.
 

 Jun 27, 2014 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
Awakening from Slumber
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sometimes, Real Life grabs you and shakes. Hard.

But here; have some first impressions.

Child of Light

I started up on this one for a couple hours - looks intriguing, though it's a little odd to have a turn-based battle system in a 2D scroller. I keep wanting to slash and chop at enemies onscreen. A familiar with a slowly recharging magic bar isn't too bad, though, and it looks like they'll be doing interesting things with it deeper into the story.

Thief

I wanted to like this game. I wanted to really, really like this game - like I enjoyed Thief 3, with its hub-based world and exploratory missions. In some cases, it delivers. In others it doesn't - there's so much emptiness so far to the game. A few guards here and there, but most of the side missions don't involve any people at all, just ransacking someone's house over and over. I miss the days of the Keepers and the intrigue between the Pagans, the Hammerites, the Keepers, and the city officials - where you could have really interesting things happening between competing interests. Basically speaking, the storyline here's just so difficult to keep interested in for more than short bursts of gameplay when I'm in the mood for sneaking.

Mechwarrior Online

Final thing for the moment: the "MMO" of choice for me for now. Though I hate to say it, MWO has a heck of a long way to go. The Clans have dropped, now, with new reasons to burn money or time playing to level up and re-outfit the 'mechs, but at the end of the day it's still desperately missing true community warfare and the number of online players and groups seems to be slowly diminishing. A troubling meta and inability - dare I say it, sure, INCOMPETENCE on the part of Paul Inouye in the field of game balance - has really hurt this one, too; they can put out more and more 'mechs, but it doesn't matter when the standard weaponry for the "optimal" 5-6 'mechs in play are all the same.
 

 May 15, 2014 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Chernobyl: Games vs Life
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Personal Stuff/Random News So it turns out, games are actually re-creating some real-life locations quite well:

It wasn’t until I was actually in the Zone myself that I realised to what extent the games manage to capture the sense of the Pripyat landscape itself as a malevolent, even antagonistic, presence. Of course, guided tours in a hot, sunny summer bear little resemblance to Stalker’s world. But, as an invisible presence known only through little blinking, chattering devices, I never really got used to radiation during my two-dozen trips to the Zone. Without any visual cues to radiation ‘hot spots’ my yellow hand-held Geiger counter was a constant companion, even if it was not the most reliable of friends, boasting an accuracy of ±20% and taking half a minute or more to determine significant changes over short distances. Walking through areas I had not previously visited, with unknown radiation levels, I would have to move cautiously.


 

 Apr 26, 2014 - 03:20 PM - by Michael
E.T. Found
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Personal Stuff/Random News All those old E.T. cartridges that were supposedly buried in a landfill because more were made than could possibly be sold?

Yep. They've been found.

Amazing.
 

 Apr 10, 2014 - 09:56 AM - by Michael
Video Games on an NFL Stadium Screen
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's no other way to say it other than... just go watch this.

It's epic.
 

 Mar 25, 2014 - 09:21 AM - by Michael
Youtube/Google Gone Evil
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Personal Stuff/Random News Google owns Youtube... and it appears Youtube has decided that the law be damned, they're not going to honor DMCA counter-notices any more.
Last week I was contacted by a YouTube user named John (YouTube username: WernerVonWallenrod), who mainly posts reviews of old vinyl records. He uploaded a roughly 7 minute video reviewing an old Eric B. & Rakim record from the 1980s, 90% of which consists of him standing in his kitchen talking about the record. The video includes a couple clips of him playing short (<1 minute) segments of the record while filming the record player. Because the video uses only short, low-quality segments of a few songs on the record for purposes of critical commentary and review, the video almost certainly qualifies as a textbook example of fair use. Nevertheless, UMG had the video taken down with a DMCA notice. Believing his video to be fair use, John sent a properly filed DMCA counter-notice in response. A few days later, he received this email from YouTube (emphasis added):
Hi there, Thank you for your counter-notification. The complainant has reaffirmed the information in its DMCA notification. YouTube has a contractual obligation to this specific copyright owner that prevents us from reinstating videos in such circumstances. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor this counter-notification. You may learn more about this here: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=3045545 We unfortunately are unable to assist further in this matter. You may wish to contact the complainant directly at youtube@umusic.com. Regards, Linda
The YouTube Team This message is extremely disturbing for multiple reasons. It appears that YouTube is saying it essentially has a contract with UMG to ignore DMCA counter-notices sent against its copyright claims, so that even if the copyright takedown has no legal basis, YouTube must nevertheless refuse to restore the video if UMG “reaffirms” the information in its DMCA notice.
Essentially - yes, they're saying "the law be damned, we contracted with these people to ignore the law and ignore your properly filed legal counterclaim." Google's officially gone evil.
 

 Feb 18, 2014 - 01:03 PM - by Michael
Irrational Sinks
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Personal Stuff/Random News The people who made the Bioshock series are Shutting down.

Ouch.

"While I'm deeply proud of what we've accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we've done before," Levine wrote. "To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."
It's sad to see them go - the game industry needs ambitious people willing to take the risks to make better, deeper games. The "smaller studio" mechanic worries me.
 

 Jan 05, 2014 - 10:17 PM - by Michael
You've never heard his name but he was awesome...
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Personal Stuff/Random News A man who came up with some serious art you'll all remember.

RIP, Greg Martin.
 

 Dec 28, 2013 - 10:50 AM - by Michael
Classic Games
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Personal Stuff/Random News Archive.org has a pretty massive holiday gift for you - the entire MAME 0.151 rom catalog in a single file.

What are you waiting for?

Enjoy some classic arcade gaming.
 

 Nov 13, 2013 - 07:33 AM - by Michael
A Backlit Saturn
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Personal Stuff/Random News Some days, stuff just takes your breath away.
 

 Nov 08, 2013 - 08:54 AM - by Michael
Games grow your Brain
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's something for you: a study showing that games actually help people learn skills.

As in - spatial orientation, memory mapping, and more.

Go gamers!
 

 Oct 31, 2013 - 08:28 AM - by Michael
Some Deus Ex Goodness
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Personal Stuff/Random News I don't usually link top-ten lists but IGN's got a nice one here: their top 10 characters in the Deus Ex universe.

I'm thinking a series replay is in order soon.
 

 Oct 19, 2013 - 11:37 PM - by Michael
Trailer-Riffic
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Personal Stuff/Random News The BBC's spending a lot of time counting down to something...
 

 Oct 16, 2013 - 07:46 AM - by Michael
Angry about Frozen?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Disney's got a new movie out soon, Frozen... but at least one person thinks it isn't good for young girls.

I'm withholding judgement till I see it. Disney Animation is no Pixar these days, but they did a good job with Tangled.
 

 Sep 10, 2013 - 06:14 PM - by Michael
SOTN in 18:20
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is just... Epic.

 

 Sep 06, 2013 - 08:42 AM - by Michael
The Gripping Hand
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Personal Stuff/Random News It seems like Penny Arcade / Mike Krahulik can't stop putting their feet in their mouths.

I've got my thoughts. Read them if you care to; I think this whole debacle catches the gamer community between a rock and a hard place. "Team Dickwolves" need to be sat down and given a good talking to by the adults in the community and spend a few years in time-out.
 

 Jul 29, 2013 - 07:36 AM - by Michael
Tabletop Gaming Rises!
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Personal Stuff/Random News As it turns out, high tech can't beat having your friends round a table and playing a game together.

It's great to see this getting acknowledged. I kind of miss the days when it was easier to get 4+ people around for an evening of Halo or F-zero on the split screen, too.
 

 Jul 25, 2013 - 07:29 AM - by Michael
Ice.
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Personal Stuff/Random News This will blow your mind. No question.

 

 Jul 11, 2013 - 07:58 AM - by Michael
Pacific Rim Review Up
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Personal Stuff/Random News New movie review is up: Pacific Rim.

Do yourself a favor and see this movie. Do science fiction a favor and get your friends to see it. You won't be disappointed.
 

 Jul 03, 2013 - 10:17 AM - by Michael
NASA Theme for Windows
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you're a Windows user, there's a really cool NASA desktop theme for you today. Grab it while it's hot!
 

 Jul 02, 2013 - 10:05 AM - by Michael
Did you know?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Some Classic Code history for you, courtesy of the Houston Press. Bring on the Konami code!.
 

 Jul 01, 2013 - 09:45 AM - by Michael
Phones at Theaters?
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Personal Stuff/Random News David Edelstein has a take on this.

I have a simpler take:

It's rude. Don't do it. Just don't. Turn the damn thing off, enjoy the movie, let everyone else enjoy the movie. Life will still be there when you get out.

I also patronize theater chains that take this seriously, like Alamo Drafthouse. Putting my money where my mouth is.
 

 Jun 21, 2013 - 07:44 AM - by Michael
Responding to C&D With Humor
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Personal Stuff/Random News The guy who owns Westorange.info is Awesome.

Read his response, have a good chuckle, realize how many lawyers are overpaid and underbrained, and go back to your day smiling.
 

 Jun 19, 2013 - 03:37 PM - by Michael
Please Watch This Video
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Personal Stuff/Random News I kid you not... this is probably the best PATV: Extra Credits episode ever.

Even Ozymandias didn't beat this one for importance. Every game designer should be forced to watch it.
 

 Jun 04, 2013 - 03:42 PM - by Michael
Wi-Fi as Motion Detection
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is both intriguing and disturbing... Wi-Fi used as a motion detection device, good enough to catch and analyze individual arm or hand motions.
 

 May 26, 2013 - 08:44 AM - by Michael
Death of used games?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over at PA, Ben Kuchera cheers the death of the used games market.

Ben Kuchera is an idiot, of course. Beyond the fact that pricing dynamics won't work the way he claims, the used market is already a pricing factor for most buyers and tying these games to an Xbox Live account means when MS inevitably shuts down the Xbox Live servers for that generation (just as they did for the original Xbox, just as they will do in 3-4 years for the Xbox 360) all of those games become inoperable. Dead. You didn't purchase at all, all you did was rent and the entire generation of those games will be dead and unplayable to history.
 

 May 17, 2013 - 08:17 AM - by Michael
Star Trekkin Into Darkness
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Personal Stuff/Random News So... quick miniature movie review. I may sit down to do a longer one soon but for now this is where it's at.

Star Trek Into Darkness.

So... first thing. We already know this is a reboot. This is not your mother and father's Star Trek. This is not a TV series, this is not shiny happy utopian-future. Things in the background are different, character motivations are different, some characters actually GET to have motivations now instead of being setpieces. Go with it.

Second thing. Yes, they brought back a villain. Yes, it's exactly who you think it is. Yes, the reveal happens pretty early and no, you won't care. Again: things are different. The federation has gone in a different direction because they got the #$%#$ scared out of them twice and pulled a Brave Sir Robin when Kirk was still in diapers, and have proceeded to go all Sir Lancelot The Homicidally Brave since the destruction of Vulcan.

The Klingon scene is brief but it's good to see them get screen time and it's good to realize they can be a creditable villain again.

Yes, there are shout-outs to fans in this movie. Nods to what has gone before and nods to what is different. You know what? I don't really care. This was a GREAT movie. I enjoyed the heck out of every minute of it. I enjoyed the realization that this isn't going to be the same Trek we've seen before, and I enjoyed the idea that this might, actually, have some chance to start the series getting back to TV where it really belongs.

Go see the movie. Set aside the worries, set aside the "but that's not canon", set aside the differences. Enjoy it for what it is.

Second star to the right, straight on til morning.
 

 May 07, 2013 - 01:23 PM - by Michael
RIP, Harryhausen
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Personal Stuff/Random News He's not really gone. Just making movies spookier in a different way.

But alas... RIP Ray Harryhausen, 92 years old.

 

 Apr 29, 2013 - 11:54 AM - by Michael
Regarding Piracy...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here are some indie game developers with their own take, plus a little trickery.
 

 Apr 27, 2013 - 08:40 PM - by Michael
Best idea I've heard all day!
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Personal Stuff/Random News I'm amazed this idea came from a Republican - the thought is to make grade-appropriate science fiction mandatory reading in schools.

I agree. Let's stimulate some young minds!
 

 Apr 24, 2013 - 10:51 AM - by Michael
"The Cloud"
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ever wondered what happens when you rely on "the cloud" too much? One reporter recently found out:

A few minutes into my Google-less existence, I realized how dependent I had become. I couldn’t finish my work or my taxes, because my notes and expenses were stored in Google Drive, and I didn’t know what else I should work on because my Google calendar had disappeared. I couldn’t publicly gripe about what I was going through, because my Blogger no longer existed. My Picasa albums were gone. I’d lost my contacts and calling plan through Google Voice; otherwise I would have called friends to cry.

... Sure, it had occurred to me when I had moved my work and memories into the “cloud” that I was relying on other people to keep them safe on their servers. But I figured a company with $50 billion in revenues and the modest aim to “organize the world’s information” had to run a tight ship. Anyway, it seemed implicit that in allowing Google to use my data, I could rely on Google to hold on to it—and to give it back.

In reality, I discovered, Google assumes no responsibility over user data nor is it required by law to do so. In the same notice informing me that it had disabled my account, Google told me for the first time that it reserves the right to “terminate your account at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.”
Emphasis added.

Moral of the story: don't rely on "the cloud" for your storage. It can easily turn on you.
 

 Apr 23, 2013 - 04:47 PM - by Michael
The People vs EA
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is an absolutely brilliant and nigh-exhaustive rendition of the list of EA's crimes against gaming.

You owe it to yourself to read it. EA's done the gaming world an amazing amount of hurt, and even I'd forgotten a lot of this.
 

 Mar 28, 2013 - 07:19 PM - by Michael
MARS.
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Personal Stuff/Random News You owe it to yourself to check out this 4 billion pixel panorama from the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Don't wait. Just do it.
 

 Mar 22, 2013 - 03:43 PM - by Michael
Ducktales redone
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Personal Stuff/Random News Capcom is remaking Ducktales, the old NES game, as a 3d-rendered title.

The gameplay looks surprisingly sharp.
 

 Mar 18, 2013 - 05:58 PM - by Michael
EA fires head
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Personal Stuff/Random News EA just fired their top man.

Yes, that's right. Chucked him right out the door. First casualty of the insanity of the launch of SimCity.

No word yet on whether or not EA will chuck the sort of DRM schemes that created this situation along with him.
 

 Mar 18, 2013 - 02:30 PM - by Michael
A real problem
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Personal Stuff/Random News Because it needed saying, and I can't say it any better.

We should be able to unlock anything we own.

Seriously.
 

 Mar 16, 2013 - 11:50 PM - by Michael
Reviews coming soon
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Personal Stuff/Random News A few reviews are in the works for "soon":

Nu No Kuni - not done with it yet, but thoroughly enjoying it as it stands. Also: Hell of a plot twist.

Dishonored - just finished this one. While it's great, solid story and wonderful world and the gameplay is definitely a worthy spiritual successor to either Thief or Deus Ex, I don't think I'm going to be replaying it.

Borderlands 2 - so far, this is a mixed bag. Is there a lot to do? Yes. Is there a good reason to play it online with friends? Yes. Are there an incredible number of things that Gearbox half-assed and otherwise missed opportunities on? Most definitely. We'll see if they can fix some of the worst of it with the upcoming 4th expansion.
 

 Mar 10, 2013 - 02:03 PM - by Michael
Free Cheesy Monster Movie
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Personal Stuff/Random News A word from the management:

These guys are freaking awesome.

Why? Because they made a zero-budget movie, using entirely borrowed or donated stuff.

And they're now giving away the movie itself. Through TPB, or KAT, or free streaming on Youtube and Vimeo both.

Statement from the makers:
Ahoy, pirates!

Here be "The Amateur Monster Movie", the first feature film by Kyle Richards and King's Tower Productions. We are willfully providing it to you for the taking because we are uninterested in distribution-as-usual.

Here's why:

Let's look at what a movie is once its digital: it's data. Data that can be endlessly replicated and distributed throughout the world for a cost that could be considered "insignificant". It certainly doesn't cost us anything for you to download it. And it didn't cost us anything to upload it. It seems logical that in this scenario, there would be no money involved, as the only costs are the operations of computers that would be running regardless. With this in mind, we believe the future of film, television, music, and all media distribution is changing. As we move towards fully digital entertainment and away from DVDs, Blu Ray, and the like, the costs of distribution dissipate. And the price of acquiring said media should dissipate for the viewer as well.

This is our little contribution in striving towards a world where all movies, television, music, and media are accessible at no charge to anyone who can access the internet. An internet which we also hope will be available at no charge to everyone who should seek it out, worldwide. This is the best way for everyone to share and learn about one another's thoughts, ideas, cultures, creativity, inspirations, and more. If the technology exists and the will to make it so exists, then it is only a matter of time. We choose to take that path now, in hopes that we may provide a cost-free, ad-free alternative to increasingly expensive and ad-filled media from the big corporations, despite their lowered costs of operation. It may seem like a far-fetched idea now, but every big idea had to start small.

This movie was made in that mindset. No money was spent on cast, crew, locations, or equipment. Only food and small items for props and makeup were purchased all the way through the entire shoot. Come editing, it became inevitable to accumulate some larger costs, the greatest being time cost, three and a half years were put into this movie, but we also do have financial debts to repay. The good news is they are not insurmountable and the future bodes brighter. Increases in technology continue to cut down on lengthy turnaround periods, and in time we hope to produce higher and higher quality films at a lower and lower cost, eventually arriving in a situation where there is no cost to either see the film or make the film; eliminating money, intrusive advertisements, and internet "tollbooths" from the equation entirely. The creative possibilities such a scenario would allow for in all media are practically limitless.

Though we have no illusions or desires of striking it rich off this movie, we are working to help pay off our expenses and if you enjoy the movie, purchasing a DVD at http://www.spadeheartclub.com is a great way to help us out. The DVDs contain two full commentary tracks, a behind the scenes featurette, an outtakes reel, and six deleted and extended scenes. There are no unskippable trailers or ads; there are no trailers or ads, period. It is just a pure, jam-packed, content-loaded DVD. We made it so people who loved the movie could have a copy of their own and know more about how it was made. And we're selling it at the best price we can, and will continue to do so until there's a way to make it free as well!

Another, maybe even better way to help us, is to review the movie somewhere online once you've seen it. Go to our imdb page, do a write-up in your blog, post a link on your facebook, or anything else/all of the above! The farther we can spread the word, the better!

We ain't in the business of makin' dollars; we're in the business of building an audience, the business of beginning a revolution of free digital media worldwide. It's time for us to stop artificially creating a supposed monetary value on that which costs its makers nothing to distribute. It's time to end prosecution against file sharing.

Help us keep things rolling in that direction by telling everyone you know about "The Amateur Monster Movie" and where they can watch it for FREE!

Thank you,
Kyle Richards
King's Tower Productions
Well? What are you waiting for? FREE. But do maybe donate to the guys, okay? They deserve it.
 

 Mar 09, 2013 - 12:15 PM - by Michael
Violent Video Games Causative? Not so fast...
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Personal Stuff/Random News An article through Gamasutra; according to the same metrics that say "violent video games make kids violent", a load of other things that create the same effect. Snakes. Pictures of bacon.

The aggression they define in their study is a short-term increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and aggressive or competitive thoughts and actions. A reaction familiar to anyone who’s ever played a competitive sport. It’s also a familiar physiological response for anyone who’s ever seen a photo of a snake or dangerous predator; it’s a typical arousal response enhanced by competitive stimuli and excitement as indicated by any number of empirical studies on human autonomic responses. Music, films, TV, even books can elicit such a response from an average individual.
This is what happens when bad science gets credited with being valid... we just heard about the fudged, falsified research that was the basis for the crusades against comic books decades ago as well.
 

 Mar 07, 2013 - 03:54 PM - by Michael
IBM Keyboards Recreated?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Cooler Master says they've made some serious hardware that recreates the feel of the old IBM battleship keyboards.

Oh, to get my hands on one. Literally.
 

 Mar 04, 2013 - 10:41 PM - by Michael
White House urges legal phone unlocking
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one from the world of politics: a petition to the White House leads to a response in favor of re-legalizing unlocking phones to make them transferable from carrier to carrier.

Consumers will be forced to pay exorbitant roaming fees to make calls while traveling abroad. It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full.

The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.

We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal.
That... is stunning. Hopefully it'll get fixed.
 

 Feb 24, 2013 - 12:31 PM - by Michael
Bestseller Lists Debunked
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Personal Stuff/Random News The book industry's got a bit of a scandal on its hands.

Anyone else thinking this kind of pay-for-listing probably happens in the games industry too? Not to mention in the review categories on most of the high-professional sites. We all remember the Kane&Lynch debacle.
 

 Feb 14, 2013 - 08:21 AM - by Michael
Moshing. It's a gas.
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Personal Stuff/Random News So apparently, the mob dynamics of a mosh pit are amazingly similar to the physics of a 2d gas at equilibrium.

This makes for some crazy math.
 

 Feb 14, 2013 - 08:19 AM - by Michael
Original Photoshop Source!
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Personal Stuff/Random News The original Source code to Photoshop 1.0 has been released by the computer History Museum.

This is... instructional. And should seriously be something modern programmers could learn from. Educators, get cracking. ;)
 

 Feb 13, 2013 - 04:05 PM - by Michael
Vader's Tactics Sucked
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Personal Stuff/Random News Wired brilliantly dissects How Vader Lost the Battle of Hoth:
The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can’t stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels’ Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can’t keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.
Do Yavin next? Please?
 

 Feb 06, 2013 - 09:37 AM - by Michael
Abolish Patents?
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Personal Stuff/Random News While they're at it they should cut copyright back considerably.

But these guys are serious. Not just that, they work at the federal reserve and have been counting up the ways the current patent system harms the economy in the tech and health sectors.
 

 Jan 31, 2013 - 08:54 AM - by Michael
Fired for making a game?
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is just downright sad.

And far, far too telling about how tech workers are really treated.
 

 Jan 29, 2013 - 10:48 AM - by Michael
EA does it again
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Personal Stuff/Random News EA has done it again.

This comment was left by a user in regards to EA's draconian Sims DRM.

EA's response: Ban the user.

If you ever wondered why you shouldn't buy any game from EA, this is why. Don't reward them for treating customers and fans like this.
 

 Jan 22, 2013 - 10:04 PM - by Michael
Classic D&D, anyone?
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Personal Stuff/Random News I never thought this day would come, but WOTC have actually done something smart and made the old D&D catalog available at a relatively reasonable price. It's a partnership with DriveThruRPG.com called DnDClassics.com.

If there's something missing in your old set, now you can find it!
 

 Jan 22, 2013 - 10:01 PM - by Michael
Pricey but cool
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you've ever wanted your own Iron Man laser gauntlet with real working lasers... talk to this guy.

Yow.
 

 Jan 10, 2013 - 09:11 PM - by Michael
Petition to legalize DDoS
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Personal Stuff/Random News We'll see if this goes anywhere... it's an odd writing, but it does make an argument.

Anonymous has filed a petition to make the Distributed Denial of Service a legal form of protest.
 

 Dec 29, 2012 - 10:20 AM - by Michael
ISPs collude to rip you off
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's an excellent article series in Bloomberg about how ISPs actively collude to not compete, and offer inferior service at higher prices to customers in the US.

This is not good for you.
 

 Dec 26, 2012 - 05:40 PM - by Michael
Thunderbirds, Not Go Today.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Goodbye to an icon of classic science fiction. Arguably the man who brought sci-fi to kids well before the memory of many alive today.
 

 Dec 26, 2012 - 09:40 AM - by Michael
Merry Christmas!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Merry Christmas to everyone out there, may your gaming be fun and filled with friends and family!
 

 Nov 15, 2012 - 03:56 PM - by Michael
TIME Top 100
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Personal Stuff/Random News TIME has a "Top 100 games of all time" list up for you to peruse.

Not a lot of quirky titles in here, alas... more a list of bestsellers and genre-creators.
 

 Nov 14, 2012 - 02:41 PM - by Michael
Gaming history
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Personal Stuff/Random News Well, this is kind of how a lot of things started out, but...

Please, watch this video.

Then think about it: how much gaming history has simply been lost? Some of the same is even true for board games. When I found my copy of Mr. President", I'd found a rare piece of history to preserve.
 

 Nov 14, 2012 - 11:08 AM - by Michael
Google Gator
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Personal Stuff/Random News No joke; a Google facility experimenting with stormwater retention for server cooling has found an alligator taking up residence in their retention pond..

I wish they'd get some better pictures of it, though.
 

 Nov 02, 2012 - 05:14 PM - by Michael
Review - Wreck-It Ralph
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Personal Stuff/Random News I've put up a quick review of Wreck-It Ralph.

The really short version: See it. This weekend. Like now. No, what are you waiting for, why are you not looking up showtimes?

Shoo shoo. Go on now. To the movies with you.

And stay all the way till the end of the credits, or you'll be very, very disappointed.
 

 Oct 25, 2012 - 01:01 PM - by Michael
Seed
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Personal Stuff/Random News This... is a really cool short film.

Seed.

And a second by the same name, but entirely different:

Seed (2012).

SEED (2012) Short Film from Tyson Wade Johnston on Vimeo.


 

 Oct 10, 2012 - 10:19 PM - by Michael
RIP, Alex Karras
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Personal Stuff/Random News He may have only been a pawn, in the game of life... but he was a good one. RIP, Alex Karras.


 

 Sep 18, 2012 - 02:32 PM - by Michael
Quickie: Penny Arcade Episode 3
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ok, so I probably should write out the full title of this once.

Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 3.

Got that? Good. Let's just agree to call it PA Ep3 from now on, before I develop carpal tunnel.

So here we are, years after the first two episodes. Hothead Games is long gone; they made the first two, then made "Deathspank", a game that nobody seems to have cared about. Sigh. Then we got a resurrection from the grave; a developer named Zeboyd Games that does old indie-type 16-bit titles came forward, talked to Tycho and Gabe, and poof, the series was resurrected.

And nerds around the world rejoiced.

So, first things off: this is not like the first two games. Even the musical theme's missing; not sure if that was a deliberate choice, or if there was some sort of IP entanglement with Hothead, but there it is. There's also zero voice acting, since it's a 16-bit game, so no more Mr. Narrator.

This is also not your old game in one more sense: no player-generated character. Apparently after defeating the menace of Fruit F****er Prime, your character finally retired from adventuring. Roll with it.

On with the good stuff!
Storyline-wise, we pick up more or less where things left off. Dr. Blood raids places for art pieces, Startling Developments Detective Agency called in, a brief cameo by Anne-Claire, and then the real game begins. Plenty of new enemies to fight, plenty of new storyline to explore.

But the real kicker here's the new system. Sure, it's not entirely "timing based" any more, it's much more classic and turn-based. On the other hand, Zeboyd came up with a real gem. Characters eventually get to have three - count 'em, THREE - character classes, one base that can't be changed and two that can be switched out at a whim. And the classes are as goofy as the series might ever have, though it is kind of a letdown not to see, visually, some of the attacking effects that might have come from them.

If you're still waiting on why to buy this game; trust me, buy it. It's well worth it, and the price point - 5 bucks - is in the category of "oh yes please."
 

 Aug 25, 2012 - 03:50 PM - by Michael
RIP Neil Armstrong
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Personal Stuff/Random News He gave us that one small step for (a) man.

He'll be missed greatly by all mankind.

Neil Armstrong, Aug 5, 1930 - Aug 25, 2012.
 

 Aug 24, 2012 - 05:39 PM - by Michael
A bit of my childhood gone.
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Personal Stuff/Random News One, one moment of silence.
Two, two moments of silence.
Three, three moments of silence.

...
...
...

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.

RIP, Jerry Nelson. We'll miss you.
 

 Aug 23, 2012 - 04:49 PM - by Michael
Mario on 2600
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ok, the graphics are decidedly worse than the Atari 7800's "Mario Bros" arcade port... but compared to the 2600's, they aren't far off.

Super Mario, coded for the Atari 2600.

Have a good look. If you dare.
 

 Aug 20, 2012 - 02:37 PM - by Michael
RIP, Phyllis Diller...
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Personal Stuff/Random News ... and thanks for all the laughs.

Phyllis Diller has passed on.

If you never heard of her, you should have. Here's a great sketch she did about auditioning for the Spice Girls.
 

 Aug 17, 2012 - 01:12 PM - by Michael
Ebay Bans Spells, Potions
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Personal Stuff/Random News eBay has decided to ban spells and potions... not going over well with members of non-christian religions.

But the ban on magic potions and curses has some users up in arms. One, writing on the eBay forum, even called the ban discriminatory.

“Disgusted” wrote: “Ebay bans alternative religious items. But! Not for Christians. Holy water and other sundry ‘holy’ items are discriminately allowed. … Hm. Let me get this straight. Some guy in Rome wearing long robes can wave his hand over some water and imbue it with something, and then it’s very ‘powerful?’ How is that different from any other magical item previously sold on ebay?…”
 

 Aug 09, 2012 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
The Dotcom Raid
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Personal Stuff/Random News A New Zealand newspaper has some information, video, and timeline on what happened - and the lies told by the US and NZ forces - in the Kim Dotcom raid.

Turns out they're using anonymous "witnesses" as well.

Dotcom’s lawyer asked him if he had seen anything deliberate done to Dotcom.
“Yes there was deliberate force applied,” he said.
So what was behind such a large and pointed operation?
“Primary objective: secure suspect as soon as possible to prevent destruction of evidence,” the elite officer said.
But Dotcom could not have destroyed evidence because the FBI had allegedly seized the Megaupload servers before the raid.
“All of that is so invalid and really angers me because you know the FBI was already in the data centre disabling access to the data they feared we would manipulate. So primary to you arriving there was no chance for anyone to do anything with that evidence,” Dotcom said.
 

 Aug 08, 2012 - 07:49 AM - by Michael
Torrents and Torrents from Internet Archive
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Personal Stuff/Random News The Internet Archive has just started seeding torrents of an amazing amount of historical material: No really, over a million torrents.

The Internet Archive is now offering over 1,000,000 torrents including our live music concerts, the Prelinger movie collection, the librivox audio book collection, feature films, old time radio, lots and lots of books, and all new uploads from our patrons into Community collections (with more to follow).
...
“I supported the original creation of BitTorrent because I believe in building technology to make it easy for communities to share what they have. The Archive is helping people to understand that BitTorrent isn’t just for ephemeral or dodgy items that disappear from view in a short time. BitTorrent is a great way to get and share large files that are permanently available from libraries like the Internet Archive,” said John Gilmore, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
There is some really cool stuff in there. Take a look!
 

 Jul 31, 2012 - 03:41 PM - by Michael
Facebook & Advertising...
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Personal Stuff/Random News A company named Limited Run has some very harsh words for facebook.
While we were testing Facebook ads, we were also trying to get Facebook to let us change our name, because we're not Limited Pressing anymore. We contacted them on many occasions about this. Finally, we got a call from someone at Facebook. They said they would allow us to change our name. NICE! But only if we agreed to spend $2000 or more in advertising a month. That's correct. Facebook was holding our name hostage. So we did what any good hardcore kids would do. We cursed that piece of shit out! Damn we were so pissed. We still are. This is why we need to delete this page and move away from Facebook. They're scumbags and we just don't have the patience for scumbags.
Ouch. Every time I hear a FB horror story, I wonder how much is true. If true, this one's really low and sleazy.
 

 Jul 31, 2012 - 12:13 PM - by Michael
BIG (ok, small) MECH FOR SALE
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Personal Stuff/Random News So... Anyone want to loan me $1.5 Million? It'd go to a good cause.

So what do you get for the money? Kuratas has over 30 hydraulic joints that allow it to freely move its arms, legs, and torso. It can fire water bottle rockets and fireworks, and its 6,000 round-per-minute BB gattling guns are controlled with the pilot’s smile; part of Yoshizaki’s V-Shido (read like bushido, as in "way of the samurai") control system. In order to get around, the four-legged mech uses ordinary wheels, but the Suidobashi team wants to get it walking in order to navigate uneven terrain.
Videos and more in the full article. What are you waiting for? Go watch a pseudo-kinda-mech-thing (ok, more like a Heavy Gear, but...) that actually works.
 

 Jul 30, 2012 - 11:12 AM - by Michael
Zelda NES Prototype on eBay
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Personal Stuff/Random News Behold, gamers... you now have permission to drool.

Or not. I'm ok with my retail copy and working NES.
 

 Jul 17, 2012 - 10:06 AM - by Michael
French McDonalds Employees Assault Researcher
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Personal Stuff/Random News A shame to see something like this happen, and a bigger shame that McDonald's doesn't seem to give a crap about it.

Subsequently another person within McDonalds physically assaulted me, while I was in McDonand's, eating my McDonand's Ranch Wrap that I had just purchased at this McDonald's. He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head. The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.

I tried to calm him down and I showed him the letter from my doctor and the documentation I had brought with me. He (who I will refer to as Perpetrator 1) then brought me to two other persons. He was standing in the middle, right in front of me, and there was another person to my left seated at a table (who I will refer to as Perpetrator 2), and a third person to my right. The third person (who I will refer to as Perpetrator 3) was holding a broom and dustpan, and wearing a shirt with a McDonald's logo on it. The person in the center (Perpetrator 1) handed the materials I had given him to the person to my left (Perpetrator 2), while the three of them reviewed my doctor's letter and the documentation.

After all three of them reviewed this material, and deliberated on it for some time, Perpetrator 2 angrily crumpled and ripped up the letter from my doctor. My other documentation was also destroyed by Perpetrator 1.

I noticed that Perpetrator 1 was wearing a name tag clipped to his belt. When I looked down at it, he quickly covered it up with his hand, and pulled it off and turned it around so that it was facing inwards, so that only the blank white backside of it was then facing outwards.

Perpetrator 1 pushed me out the door, onto the street.

The computerized eyeglass processes imagery using Augmediated Reality, in order to help the wearer see better, and when the computer is damaged, e.g. by falling and hitting the ground (or by a physical assault), buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system.
Spread the word, maybe McDonald's will get a clue.
 

 Jul 03, 2012 - 01:19 PM - by Michael
Ugly. Just ugly.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Destructoid's got a writer who did something seriously wrong.

Wil Wheaton explains why far better than anyone should have to.

 

 Jul 03, 2012 - 10:12 AM - by Michael
Goodbye, Andy Griffith
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Personal Stuff/Random News So little else to say: Andy Griffith, Rest in Peace. And thank you for all the wonderful memories.
 

 Jun 28, 2012 - 05:00 PM - by Michael
Initial Thoughts on Prototype 2
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is going to be really, really brief on Prototype 2.

The first game was pretty enjoyable, though the "aftergame" isn't so much. I was actually tempted to start a New Game+, and still might someday.

However, Prototype 2 made me sit through a full hour of cutscenes and quicktime-type events (Hold R2 and run for 5 minutes in one direction?) before it let me get to any actual gameplay. That's pretty shoddy and not looking up for the game's prospects. Oh, and by the time the cutscenes finished they'd taken the entire advertised character motivation and inverted it. Way to quicken and cheapen a story.
 

 Jun 28, 2012 - 02:56 PM - by Michael
British Lack of First Amendment
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Personal Stuff/Random News In Britain, where libel/slander laws are notoriously easy to sue under, a "collections" firm has begun suing websites over commentary left by users critical of its actions.

The law firm's letters demand that not only should all the defamatory and threatening posts be taken down, but that the websites should reveal to RLP the identities of all the contributors who made the comments.

Nick Spooner of Legal Beagles said: "We are shocked because it appears to us that far from having any genuine complaint about the nature of the comments it appears RLP want to stifle the reporting of the adverse judgement at Oxford County Court because it puts into question their business model.

"We are refusing to comply with any of their demands," he added.
Maybe the brits should fix their laws.
 

 Jun 28, 2012 - 02:53 PM - by Michael
Dotcom Warrants Illegal
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Personal Stuff/Random News The warrants used by NZ police in the raid on Kim Dotcom / MegaUpload months ago? They've just been ruled illegal.

This is a big blow to the US's case.

Justice Helen Winkelmann found that the warrants used did not properly describe the offences to which they were related.
Kim Dotcom was arrested in January when the FBI shut down his fire-sharing website aming claims it had cost copyright holders more than $US500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.
The FBI agents had been accused of underhanded behaviour by Dotcom's lawyers in the High Court after they secretly copied data from his computers and took it overseas.
Justice Winkelmann has also ruled it was unlawful for copies of Dotcom's computer data to be taken offshore.
She ordered that no more items taken in the raids could be removed from New Zealand, and instructed the attorney-general to return clones of the hard drives held by New Zealand police.
That's a double blow; illegal to raid, and illegal for the US to take raided material.
 

 Jun 18, 2012 - 04:51 PM - by Michael
Lawyers Who Should Be Disbarred
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Personal Stuff/Random News I'll make this short and sweet.

In the personal opinion of this writer, 100% protected by the First Amendment, the lawyer involved in this story ought to be disbarred in any state he remains licensed to practice law in for abusive practices.

Personal opinion. First Amendment. I'd compare him to Jack Thompson but I fear that might be insulting... to Jack.
 

 Jun 15, 2012 - 08:04 AM - by Michael
Common Sense in Action
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Personal Stuff/Random News A little girl in Britain is again allowed to blog about her school lunches.

Yes, really. School lunch officials "feared for their jobs" because she was photographing the godawful cafeteria food they were serving.

Cleland Sneddon, the executive director of community services at Argyll and Bute Council, told the BBC that school catering staff had been left "in tears" by press coverage.

He added: "Newspapers have a significant impact on public opinion. They have a significant impact on this particular staff group.

"If you had met with the staff at the school yesterday, the level of distress that was there - it was palpable. It was very significant for them. People were in tears. This was a culmination of a period of seven weeks of this level of coverage and we had to take some action to protect our staff."

However, Mr McCuish later told the BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.
- Emphasis added.

The Never Seconds Blog has yet to reopen, however.
 

 Jun 12, 2012 - 06:31 AM - by Michael
Casualty of Acquisition
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Personal Stuff/Random News Meebo - an online instant messaging interface that was pretty solid - will be shutting down now that it's been acquired by Google.

Meebo, which began in 2005 as a browser based instant messaging program, will now cease most of its services by next month. The IM service supported various IM platforms such as Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, ICQ, MySpaceIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, CafeMom and others. The announcement comes after Google’s acquisition of Meebo for $100 million – which was made just less than a week ago.


The timeline's quite something, and it's a shame to see them closed up; if you're working in an internet cafe, services like Meebo make communication a lot easier.
 

 Jun 06, 2012 - 09:54 AM - by Michael
RIP: Ray Bradbury
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Personal Stuff/Random News Farewell to the author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles... and yet another of the "old guard" of science fiction, from a time when it addressed moral issues in surprisingly intelligent and predictive ways.

Go read a book today in his honor.
 

 May 24, 2012 - 10:02 PM - by Michael
Scammer Caught in Act
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one - a cold-call scammer caught in the act and led into a virtual machine to document the experience.

Youtube video hovering over here.

If you're at all interested in how these scammers operate, it's a great bit to watch.
 

 May 24, 2012 - 08:43 AM - by Michael
Deus Ex of Real Life
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's a fascinating interview about bioethics and the military:

What brain tech is coming farther in the future?

Somewhat further out, there’s external neurostimulation, direct current stimulation, or transcranial magnetic stimulation. There’s some evidence that if you put people under a magnet – a cheap, portable magnet actually — that you can change the polarity of ions, help them actually learn faster, and maybe wake them up. You might see that in the next 10 years in vehicles; maybe in 20 years in helmets. There’s a lot of interest in that area.

Much further down, in terms of devices, the question is whether you can make an artificial brain organ, like the hippocampus, which is associated to learning and memory. Maybe then you could, as one science fiction author said, “jack in,” and have a permanent port on your skull. You pop something in and you can download information that way. I think that’s very interesting but very speculative and it’s brain surgery. We’re not doing that anytime soon!
Amazing the things modern science is thinking of - and the ethical implications!
 

 May 21, 2012 - 10:52 AM - by Michael
In Memoriam: George A. Rieth
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Personal Stuff/Random News You may not have heard of him, but you'll recognize him: George A. Rieth.

 

 May 13, 2012 - 09:42 PM - by Michael
Old School Icons
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Personal Stuff/Random News Scott Hanselman offers up some icons that don't mean what they used to mean - recognizable only to old school computer users.

Bookmarks

We used to use smaller flat dead trees to keep our place in between the dead trees we would read from so that we didn't lose our page. No, books didn't "keep our place when we turned them off."

Address Books and Calendars

We would write down all our addresses and phone numbers in a dead tree and carry it around with us. Sometimes we'd manage our calendar that way also. Everything was bound together with metal spiral loops. Let me check my Filofax.
 

 May 13, 2012 - 09:12 PM - by Michael
Musicians mourn...
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Personal Stuff/Random News The passing of Donald "Duck" Dunn, legendary blues and jazz performer.

Time to break out the old Blues Brothers dvd and raise a glass.
 

 Apr 30, 2012 - 09:12 PM - by Michael
Go Right, Young Hero.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Just... Go Right.

This is seriously cool.
 

 Apr 19, 2012 - 10:16 AM - by Michael
DRM Stupidness
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Personal Stuff/Random News How statutory minimums made a mockery of the saga of the open Maple story server UMaple:

After a paltry copyright infringement damages award, the opinion turns to anti-circumvention damages. Dun dun DUN. 17 USC 1203 sets a statutory damages minimum of $200 per act of circumvention. UMaples' client, the "UMaple Launcher," allegedly bypassed the access controls in MapleStory's client software. UMaple had 17,938 users. At $200/user (assuming 1 act of circumvention per user), the tally reaches a total of $3.5M+ in statutory damages, but the judge doesn't think this is right:

even the minimum statutory amount awardable under the DMCA in this case [is] a significant windfall to Plaintiff far in excess of any amount necessary to deter future infringing conduct. Further, the minimum award here likely bears little plausible relationship to Plaintiff's actual damages.

Nevertheless, the judge had no choice based on the formula it felt was binding, so this produces a massive anti-circumvention award. If it were collectible, it would be quite noteworthy as one of the biggest anti-circumvention awards of all time. But, it's not collectible.
Emphasis added.
 

 Apr 06, 2012 - 07:08 AM - by Michael
No other way to put it...
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Personal Stuff/Random News About Damn Time.

When they announced the cancellation of the series previously, I was roundly disappointed.
 

 Mar 27, 2012 - 08:19 AM - by Michael
MegaUpload gets weirder
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Personal Stuff/Random News In the news on MegaUpload, signs that things aren't what they seem:

In 2009, Fox e-mailed seeking "third party partners" for Fox's recently launched ad network. "Please let me know if you have some time to chat this week about how we can work together to better monetize your inventory," the Fox employee wrote.

In 2010, a Warner Brothers executive e-mailed Megaupload seeking to expedite the process of uploading Warner content to Megaupload. "I would like to know if your site can take a Media RSS feed for our syndications," he wrote. "We would like to upload our content all at once instead of one video at a time."


TorrentFreak's got an entire interview with Kim Dotcom over here as well. This is getting stranger and stranger.
 

 Mar 19, 2012 - 10:14 PM - by Michael
DIY going Dodo?
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Personal Stuff/Random News In uglier tech news, Kyle Wiens of iFixit has some negative views of the iPad 3 - it's nigh impossible to open up to perform even the most basic repairs.

This is par for the course for Apple, though; in recent years, even replacing a battery in their machines has become a "ship it back to the factory" level repair.
 

 Mar 19, 2012 - 06:16 PM - by Michael
No more sonic booms?
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Personal Stuff/Random News If true, it could be a marvel - an airplane with a second set of wings, to cancel out sonic booms.

Just the thing to enable supersonic passenger flights!

What's the catch? At sub-supersonic speeds, a Busemann Biplane doesn't produce sufficient lift under acceleration, undergoing considerable drag. The design is said to work perfectly at supersonic speeds - it's getting to them that is the trouble. So though there may be no sonic boom, there's no flight either.
...

Better yet, the MIT/Stanford team think they might have cracked the problem of lift at sub-supersonic speeds. Through an iterative processes, modeling differing design variations, the team has discovered that smoothing the wing's inner surface eases the passage of air between the wings. By additionally "bumping out" the outer edges of the two wings, the team has come up with a design it claims will fly below the speed of sound, and with half the drag of Concorde.
Ok, so maybe they're not quite there yet...
 

 Mar 19, 2012 - 05:55 PM - by Michael
Wil Wheaton TV
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Personal Stuff/Random News Seriously, just get ready to watch this.

Tabletop games need to come back in a big way.

My ulterior motive with Tabletop is to show by example how much fun it is to play boardgames. I want to show that Gamers aren't all a bunch of weirdoes who can't make eye contact when they talk to you, and that getting together for a game night is just as social and awesome as getting together to watch Sportsball, or to play poker, or for a LAN party, or whatever non-gamers do with their friends. I want to inspire people to try hobby games, and I want to remove the stigma associated with gaming and gamers.
Thank you, Wil, thank you. I've toyed with the idea of opening up reviews of tabletop games here; maybe sometime soon, say over summer, it can become a reality.
 

 Mar 19, 2012 - 05:53 PM - by Michael
Elsevier boycott grows
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Personal Stuff/Random News The academic boycott of Elsevier, 900-lb gorilla of the academic journal world, is growing:

Seem dramatic? Well, here?s a little test. Go to any of the top academic journals in the world and try to read an article. The full article, mind you?not just the abstract or the first few paragraphs. Hit a paywall? Try an article written 20 or 30 years ago in an obscure journal. Just look up something on PubMed then head to JSTOR where a vast archive of journals have been digitized for reference. Denied? Not interested in paying $40 to the publisher to rent the article for a few days or purchase it for hundreds of dollars either? You?ve just logged one of the over 150 million failed attempts per year to access an article on JSTOR. Now consider the fact that the majority of scientific articles in the U.S., for example, has been funded by government-funded agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, NIH, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, and so on. So while taxpayer money has fueled this research, publishers charge anyone who wants to actually see the results for themselves, including the authors of the articles.
Shockingly, this is common even if you're a student or staff at a university and your university library's paid for journal access. It'd be nice to see the tide turn a bit, and more journals reach open access for the world.
 

 Mar 05, 2012 - 04:37 PM - by Michael
Why the DMCA is terrible
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Personal Stuff/Random News Behold, what one erroneous DMCA complaint can cause.

But I can only tell you the number of views/favourites/comments etc. up to October 11th 2007 because that's the last record of it at its original url in the internet archive.

Unfortunately, on February 17th this year, Flickr - who are owned by Yahoo! - deleted the image from their servers. The page it was on disappeared... and with it, all the comments, favourites, and the record of its views disappeared too. That stuff matters only because I'm vain... but every blog that linked to it now has a broken link that goes nowhere and that matters because links are what make the internet the internet. With all those links broken, 6 years worth of photo-sharing has been undone.
 

 Mar 04, 2012 - 10:40 AM - by Michael
Star Wars Visionary, RIP
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Personal Stuff/Random News No, it's not George Lucas. The man behind most of the Star Wars concept art, Ralph McQuarrie, has passed on.

A list of more of his achievements is available at his IMDB page.
 

 Feb 24, 2012 - 10:00 PM - by Michael
Silverball Silence
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Personal Stuff/Random News Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence - the inventor of the modern pinball machine, Mr. Steve Kordek, has passed on.

A generation of pinball wizards mourn his loss... myself included.
 

 Feb 08, 2012 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
No Guts No Galaxy
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you've been following Mechwarrior Online and Mektek at all lately, you've doubtless heard of the 'Mech pods and the rumors of "Solaris Assault Tech."

No Guts No Galaxy, a Mechwarrior/Battletech-centric podcast, have scored a great interview with Nick "Propwash" Smith, owner of Virtual World Entertainment, the outfit that hires Mektek to port their software into the pods. It's a great listen: check it out.
 

 Feb 08, 2012 - 07:46 AM - by Michael
Victory for Common Sense
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Personal Stuff/Random News A judge today has refused to shut down used MP3 marketplace ReDigi.

It's an interesting place. Works like this: if you have music you don't listen to any more, legally purchased, you can put it up on ReDigi. When someone buys it, the music's transferred to their computer and deleted from yours.

More over at Recording Industry vs The People, or you can read the court transcript.
 

 Jan 30, 2012 - 08:14 AM - by Michael
Content Locking
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Personal Stuff/Random News HotHardware looks at the brouhaha over Kingdoms of Amalur's content lock.

Essentially, if you bought a new copy, you get some "free stuff" that may or may not already be on the disc. If you buy used, you have to pay EXTRA money to unlock a part of the single-player game.

A number of people have declared this to be simple greed, but the situation isn't that simple. Consider this: When you buy a game from Gamestop, the studio gets nothing. Buying a used game and pirating the game outright are identical as far as their impact on the studio's revenue. That's inherently frustrating for developers, and the problem is made substantially worse by Gamestop itself.

The problem, after all, isn't the fact that a used games market exists, but that the used games market is dominated by a single enormous company. Gamestop's monopoly on the used game market gives it the ability to set prices on what a used game should sell for, and the resulting sale is 100% profit for the company. Unlike the MPAA, which prohibits selling new and used games side-by-side, there's no such restriction at GS.
I'm not the world's biggest Gamestop fan, but really, the used games market exists like a used market exists for just about every other product in the world. PC gamers don't get much of a used games market these days thanks to the Steam DRM lock, and it really annoys people and hurts the industry by making people less willing to buy a game that they may finish and want to give away to a friend. And the move to items you can't sell without breaking them hasn't come with decreasing prices, so consumers are even more leery of purchasing.

I don't like the idea of the death of the used games market, which is definitely what the game publishers want to see happen. It's bad enough knowing that there are a set of games from my Xbox Live Marketplace downloads that, once the Xbox dies or Xbox360 is deprecated from Live (just like they did to the original Xbox and its DLC packs), the content is almost impossible to see again.
 

 Jan 27, 2012 - 11:00 AM - by Michael
Nintendo Hard
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Personal Stuff/Random News Say hello to a scientific analysis of how mathematically hard some classic games are.

Location traversal and single-use paths, ala Pac-Man, is NP-hard. Pressure plates, ala Prince of Persia or Portal, is PSPACE-hard if there are two pressure plates, and NP-hard if only one is required to open a door. In the case of switches, one switch is P-hard, two is NP-hard, and three or more is PSPACE-hard.

Viglietta then uses these characteristics to classify each of the 13 games. Boulder Dash, which involves traversing a map strewn with boulders, is NP-hard. Prince of Persia, thanks to its pressure plates, is PSPACE-complete. Doom, with its multiple switches, is PSPACE-hard (and Viglietta claims that most other FPSes and adventure games are the same).
Regrettably, they don't have categories for games like Ninja Gaiden 3 or the original Castlevania, which qualify simply as "throw your controller at the wall repeatedly in frustration, Nintendo Hard."
 

 Jan 27, 2012 - 07:51 AM - by Michael
The world turns...
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Personal Stuff/Random News SOPA/PIPA are dead, but could be revived.
A SOPA-alike is being considered by Canada.
ACTA is continually being pushed in Europe, despite the resignation of the EU's ACTA chief in disgust over attempts to push it through without required public comment and consideration of the EU governing bodies.

Contact your representatives. WHEREVER you are.

 

 Jan 16, 2012 - 09:13 AM - by Michael
One down...
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Personal Stuff/Random News The SOPA bill, sometimes called the "internet blacklist", has been shut down in the US House of Representatives. Its Senate counterpart, called "PIPA", is still alive.
PIPA is less well known than SOPA, but the provisions are basicly the same. It still includes the same DNS blocking and censoring system that the original SOPA did, just without the SOPA name. There are around 40 co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate so far, with no word on how many senators support the bill in addition to that. There will most likely need to be 60 votes in the Senate in order to invoke cloture and end an almost guaranteed filibuster.
Focus your attention on your Senators for now, but keep your eyes peeled in case SOPA tries to make a stealth return.
 

 Jan 12, 2012 - 07:12 AM - by Michael
A quick video
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Personal Stuff/Random News As the new year picks up steam... anyone for some halo?
 

 Dec 27, 2011 - 06:01 PM - by Michael
PR: What not to do
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Personal Stuff/Random News This stuff just kinda writes itself.

There's really not much more to say; it's just no help to anyone. Especially when it gets bad enough that someone tries to impersonate other people.

I think Gabe says it best: this guy is just a bully.
 

 Dec 14, 2011 - 09:58 AM - by Michael
Doctor Who Lost Eps Via Time Travel?
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is too weird but true: the BBC is actually going to recover some lost Doctor Who episodes thanks to an anomaly in space bouncing TV signals back to earth on a 47-year time delay.

They even have a screenshot from a Doctor Who episode recovered from the signals.

Amazing!
 

 Dec 14, 2011 - 09:34 AM - by Michael
The phrase you're looking for...
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Personal Stuff/Random News ... is Pure Win.

This is great. I'd advise snagging it with a downloader, just in case some wag from Paramount gets it taken down.
 

 Dec 14, 2011 - 06:51 AM - by Michael
Humble Indie Bundle 4
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Personal Stuff/Random News Just in time for your christmas shopping needs, Humble Indie Bundle 4 has gone live.

Super Meat Boy's in this one, and if you beat the normal asking price, they'll throw in Cave Story+ and Gratuitous Space Battles as well.

And remember, part of the proceeds go to Child's Play - a true worthy cause.
 

 Dec 12, 2011 - 12:07 PM - by Michael
Doctor Who Found
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Personal Stuff/Random News Two more classic Doctor Who episodes, thought destroyed, have been found in the hands of a private collector:

Episode 3 of the William Hartnell adventure "Galaxy 4" and Episode 2 of Patrick Troughton's "The Underwater Menace" were purchased by film collector Terry Burnett at a village fete near Southampton in the early 80s. He had been unaware that the canisters contained material missing from the BBC.
...
Over 100 episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s still remain missing. The tapes were routinely wiped once the rights to repeat them had expired. It seems unfathomable to us today, but before the advent of DVDs and iPlayer, grainy black and white material was thought to no longer be of interest to the television audience. However, many film prints sold overseas have since been returned. These latest discoveries are the first complete episodes to have been located since 2004.


Leaves hope that maybe a few more preserved episodes are still out there?
 

 Dec 12, 2011 - 08:05 AM - by Michael
Recent Games
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Personal Stuff/Random News So, a few things I've been working on recently amid the busy holiday season:

#1 - Zelda: Skyward Sword. First thoughts: Nintendo kinda missed on this one. Good setup/story? Yes. Controls? At first glance they seem really cool, until you realize that the Wiimote/Motionplus combo is still not sensitive enough to really pull off what they were going for (at least, compared to what Kinect has been able to do with things like Dance Central and Fruit Ninja). Plus, this is almost a game that requires standing up to play, which is harder to do when you're going to be doing it at 3-hour stints to get through the dungeons and areas.

On the graphical side... the bigger your screen, the more complaints you're going to have. It's not nearly as good looking as Twilight Princess was - partly because the textures are lower res, partly because the game's internal rendering itself seems to be lower res - most probably, to account for the lost CPU power that's being dedicated to processing the MotionPlus system instead. If you've got an utter beast of a PC, it may actually be worth setting this up on Dolphin instead to render at high resolution.

#2 - Skyrim. This is just eating up my time. I've put in probably over 90 hours since it came out, and I still don't feel like I'm anywhere past 10% of the game. I can't believe how much Bethesda got right with the game; I can't believe just how MUCH they managed to put into an absolutely humongous map. There are quests and bits and pieces everywhere. My only gripe so far: occasionally I'll trip over a "quest item" that can't be dropped until the quest completes - a few of them are glitched so you can't even drop them AFTER the quest involved completes. Some of these weigh nothing, which makes them easy to ignore, but the others... I'm out about 10 pounds of encumbrance due to crap the game just won't let me drop, and it's going to get worse before it gets better as I hunt down the quests these stupid things are attached to.
 

 Nov 29, 2011 - 06:43 AM - by Michael
Game for Charity
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Personal Stuff/Random News So, here's an interesting new concept - a D20-derivative RPG, being distributed as pay-what-you-want with some of the proceeds going to Child's Play.

Over on RPG.Net you can see a review by one of the playtesters. Looks promising.
 

 Nov 21, 2011 - 07:29 PM - by Michael
Quickie: X-Men Destiny
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Personal Stuff/Random News So it's time for another quickie review... this time, I've got X-Men Destiny on hand. If you're wondering, yes, it uses pretty much the same system that the other Activision/Marvel Beat-Em-Up titles have used for some time now - beat up bad guys, level up, add in token changes or select your powers.

The upside is, this time around, you're in one of three "character roles". This ought to have been a chance for players to really strut their stuff, break the mold, do something different. Experiment with power combinations. Unfortunately, instead you get to choose three RPG roles - football jock, tiny asian girl, or the son of an anti-mutant activist (e.g. Warren Worthington by another name) followed by selecting whether you're a big bruiser type of the "Density Control" school, a frenzied attacker of the "Shadow Matter" school, or a my-hands-are-guns type from the "Energy Projection" school. If I didn't know better, I'd think some of the developers had gone back to the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG by TSR for some form of bizarre inspiration.

In a vague attempt to put in some sort of relevance to storyline, most of the storyline missions involve following around existing, known mutant favorites to do things. There's supposed to be a set of choices to influence the storyline, but it's all pretty binary - you either do the X-Men thing, or you do what the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants wants you to do, and that's that. Since this is a beat-em-up cleverly disguised as an RPG, most of the "missions" and "challenge arenas" are merely orders to go beat up on bad guy mooks, mashing buttons until you reach a certain kill count or find the level boss. Sometimes, your AI friends will do things bordering on suicidal... no, I take that back, MOST of the time, your AI friends will do things bordering on suicidal. The only saving grace there is that the bosses of the game are just as suicidal, operating off of only the barest of "AI" along with repetitive patterns that make predicting and avoiding attacks and countering with your own mercifully easy. Oh, and at the end of it all, all those "choices" you made? Don't worry. The Brotherhood is always ready to embrace a turncoat, the X-Men always will take a stray back in with open arms, and your choices didn't really matter. Pick your side at the end, and that's that.

One of the few things that sounded interesting, at first glance, was the ability to equip a part of a classic character's powers along with their costume (yes, you can put on Juggernaut's S&M suit, or Wolverine's garish yellow tights, or even Bobby Drake's... well... fruit of the looms). You do this by finding secret spots and items in the levels called "X-Genes", which you can then equip - equip an entire set, and you get an "X-Mode" boost to something or other, while you also have the option to mix and match. The downside is that you can do this at any time, swapping from Wolverine mode to Colossus mode to Iceman mode to some sort of weird amalgam or to any other mode on the fly. It's not exactly an intuitive idea, nor does it work well for the system; it's pretty hard to define a character whose main power is "I can be like anyone else I want to be", and it never really worked well for most of the other Marvel power-alikes either.

But it's the latest X-Men game, so it should look good, right? All the work in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance engines and the other X-men titles coming together to make something good? Sadly, no - most of the textures seem to be re-treads, and a lot of the game's structure and visuals are just popped in from previous games as is.

There are games that are launched finished. As in, really polished. There are games that launch unfinished, but patch later and have a good concept. There are games that some people will defend as a good concept even if the execution is terrible. And then there are the games that wind up in the bargain bin for 5 bucks.

X-Men Destiny? Sorry to the guys from Silicon Knights, but... welcome to the 5 buck bin.
 

 Nov 17, 2011 - 01:04 PM - by Michael
The Ancient Watch
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Personal Stuff/Random News Gizmag has something that's just freaking cool: a concept watch made from a scaled-down model of the Antikythera Mechanism.

Face it, this is amazing:
 

 Nov 14, 2011 - 09:38 PM - by Michael
Missing: One Gordon
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sesame Street's got an odd request - does anybody know who this guy is?

Apparently, some records weren't too well kept. Now they're trying to find him. Probably to see if he is still available for some form of a reunion of original Sesame Street actors.

It kind of reminds me of the recent Princess Bride reunion photo...
 

 Nov 07, 2011 - 07:31 AM - by Michael
How the Patent System Broke
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over in the San Francisco Chronicle, a fascinating interview with Tim Porter, Google's patent lawyer, on how the US patent system broke down.

Q: Let's talk about Microsoft. They sued at least one of your Android partners and have pressured others into licensing agreements, arguing that they have patents that cover critical parts of the software. What do you make of that?

A: Unfortunately, the way it works is you don't know what patents cover until courts declare that in litigation. What that means is people have to make decisions about whether to fight or whether to reach agreements.

This is a tactic that Microsoft has used in the past, with Linux, for example. When their products stop succeeding in the marketplace, when they get marginalized, as is happening now with Android, they use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products.
Read the whole thing - you'll be amazed.
 

 Oct 31, 2011 - 07:51 AM - by Michael
Mock Zombie Invasion
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Personal Stuff/Random News Just in time for Halloween, a Mock Zombie invasion.

They actually pulled it off rather well, too.

Delaware County is the first in Ohio to hold a zombie-themed hazardous materials exercise, according to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and other emergency officials around the state are keeping an eye on how things go.

"They want to see what lessons we learn, and they like the idea of getting out the zombie preparedness message" about bracing for the unexpected," said Carter, the health district spokesman. "The other message that we're trying to convey is come be a zombie."
Brains.
 

 Oct 18, 2011 - 08:03 AM - by Michael
One Step Closer...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Come on Scientists. You can do it.

All you have to do is invent Mr. Fusion - the Delorean guys have already come up with an all-electric DeLorean and are putting the finishing touches on it.

Want. Definitely want.
 

 Oct 13, 2011 - 07:19 AM - by Michael
Doing a Classic Right
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you're a fan of stealth and RPG titles, there's a new Shadowrun game coming down the pipe.

Finally someone who won't mess it up and turn it into a freaking horrid FPS.

Well, it will have a perspective camera in a 3D setting, much like our Jagged Alliance Online game, which we are currently developing. (for a peak at that one, you can go to http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/jagged-alliance-online-preview-a-classic-reborn-for-the-browser/ , who have the latest info from our gamescom version.) So, it will be a decent quality, but it won?t be what some call AAA. The reason for that is simple: We are doing a browser based game. This means anyone can access it at any time from their PC, no downloading, no hassle. But that also means we need to limit visuals. I hope you agree that gameplay is king, so we think the visuals are decent enough.
 

 Oct 10, 2011 - 07:24 AM - by Michael
Interesting History
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you've ever wondered about Steve Jobs' inspirations: check this out. It's a 1971 article from Esquire magazine.

As it seems, Wozniak and Jobs got together originally making little blue boxes, items that were used mostly to "phreak" the phone system.

It's strange how those beginnings turned into the modern Apple story.
 

 Oct 05, 2011 - 06:46 PM - by Michael
RIP, Steve Jobs
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Personal Stuff/Random News I'm sure there will be stories all over by tomorrow, but word just announced a few minutes ago by Apple is that Steve Jobs has passed away today.

The man who helped bring the world Apple, who brought a lot of innovative products - not all successful, but many formative for the computing industry, including Mac OS X, which is probably the world's most-used implementation of FreeBSD - has lost the battle with pancreatic cancer.

He'll be missed. Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.
 

 Oct 04, 2011 - 07:52 AM - by Michael
Spidey: Edge of Time
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Personal Stuff/Random News Activision sends word they've kicked their newest Spider-Man adventure, "Spider-Man: Edge of Time", out the door:
Santa Monica, CA - October 4, 2011 - Today, Spider-Man? faces his greatest challenge ever - saving Spider-Man - in Spider-Man?: Edge of Time, available now in North American retail stores from Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI). Created by Beenox - the studio that developed last year's popular Spider-Man?: Shattered Dimensions - players take the roles of both Peter Parker's Amazing Spider-Man, and Miguel O'Hara's Spider-Man 2099 in a harrowing, action-packed adventure, spanning two timelines 100-years apart in order to thwart a cataclysmic future from happening - and the death of Peter Parker.

"Just like with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Beenox is bringing a fresh perspective to the series with Spider-Man: Edge of Time," said David Oxford, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Activision Publishing, Inc. "Dee Brown and the team at Beenox worked closely with Marvel's own veteran writer and co-creator of Spider-Man 2099, Peter David, on a high-stakes narrative experience where the ultimate challenge is not only to save the world, but also save Spider-Man himself."

"We're very excited to bring Spider-Man: Edge of Time to Marvel fans everywhere," said TQ Jefferson, Vice President of Games Production, Marvel Entertainment. "Activision and Beenox have managed to pack more fun, excitement and challenge into this game than their previous hit Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions; and we're eager for fans - both new and old - to dive into Spidey's latest pulse-pounding adventure."

Playing as the two extremely different personas of Peter Parker and Miguel O'Hara, both heroic web-slingers must urgently work together to correct a timestream gone awry, save each other, and prevent the death of the Amazing Spider-Man. With the story's two timelines evolving in parallel, each Super Hero must navigate through "cause-and-effect" gameplay moments, utilizing Spider-Man: Edge of Time's picture-in-picture display where the actions of one Spider-Man can result in immediate, and sometimes unexpected, effects on the other Spider-Man and his surroundings. Players will battle a variety of fan-favorite and all-new villains, including Anti-Venom and Black Cat 2099, using expanded combat abilities specific to each timeline - from Spider-Man 2099's close-quarters brute force, futuristic enhancements and gravity-defying acrobatics, to the Amazing Spider-Man's evasive techniques, upgraded web abilities and ranged tactics, as they race against time to preserve the balance of both worlds.

The game includes an all-star voice cast, beginning with legendary film star Val Kilmer as Walker Sloan; Smallville and V mainstay Laura Vandervoort as Mary Jane; Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoffas Black Cat; "The Spectacular Spider-Man's" Josh Keaton as the Amazing Spider-Man; and Christopher Daniel Barnes, who voiced the iconic Marvel web-slinger in the 1994 "Spider-Man" series, as the voice of Spider-Man 2099.

Spider-Man: Edge of Time is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB and is available on the Xbox 360? video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation?3 computer entertainment system, Wii? and Nintendo 3DS?, all developed by Beenox. The Nintendo 3DS edition marks the debut of Spider-Man on Nintendo's newest platform. A Nintendo DS? version, created by developer Other Ocean, is also available and features a platforming adventure full of unique villains, such as the first-ever appearances of Overdrive, Arcade and Big Wheel 2099, created exclusively for this version.

 

 Sep 27, 2011 - 03:46 PM - by Michael
Deus Ex: Real Humans
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you haven't seen this short mini-documentary, go see it.

Reality and Deus Ex are closer than we think.
 

 Sep 12, 2011 - 02:09 PM - by Michael
Glowing Cats
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Personal Stuff/Random News In a breakthrough for antiviral research, scientists have created glowing green cats.

No, seriously, this is a big deal. Not only in the search for genetic treatments against diseases like AIDS (they were actually looking for help in breeding cats immune to FIV, a similar virus that affects felines), but also in the search for a breed of cat that won't trip you in the hallway in the middle of the night.
 

 Sep 12, 2011 - 08:23 AM - by Michael
Deus Exing
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Personal Stuff/Random News Now more than halfway through Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Or I think so.

The more I think about it... this doesn't fit the DX timeline. Sure, it's "set before" the previous two. But augmentations are ubiquitous. Half the people you meet in the game have them. There are no physical locks - just credit card swipers that are trivial to hack with a hacking minigame (I miss the nano-lockpicks and wireless pad hacking tools). In areas of this world, it seems everyone is eager (or at least resigned) to implanting stuff in their body. In the world of the first Deus Ex, there were only two people with any physical augs like we're seeing at all, and they were considered "relics."

What gives?
 

 Sep 09, 2011 - 11:46 PM - by Michael
Back in from Dragon*Con
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Personal Stuff/Random News Regular posting will resume next week. In the meantime, I'll be trying to get far enough in DX:HR to give a better indication of how the game plays past the first couple hours.

First couple hours on the other hand: epic success.
 

 Sep 01, 2011 - 06:48 AM - by Michael
On quietness.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Yes, it's been quiet here a bit.

No, I'm not dead. Just doing quite a bit in the "Real World."

Also, heading out of the "real world" and into Dragon*Con this weekend. Long live NerdyGras!
 

 Aug 25, 2011 - 08:20 AM - by Michael
Two For One
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over at Slashdot, Rob Malda ("Cmdrtaco") is stepping down from running the place.

Over at Apple... well... I'm sure you've heard by now.
 

 Aug 24, 2011 - 09:29 AM - by Michael
Verizon's bait and switch
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Personal Stuff/Random News Verizon just made it easy for Android users to stream full TV episodes to their phone. Cool, right?

As it turns out, no. They're actually trying to trick users into hitting their bandwidth caps so that they can overcharge!

Beware this new "service" if you're a Verizon customer.
 

 Aug 24, 2011 - 09:27 AM - by Michael
Crazy Portal video
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Personal Stuff/Random News Just... watch this video.

Then imagine someone actually makes Portal into a movie.
 

 Aug 22, 2011 - 10:27 AM - by Michael
NGlide updated - version .97
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Personal Stuff/Random News Zeus has let us know that his glide wrapper, NGlide, is now up to version 0.97 with some pretty cool fixes:

nGlide 0.97 changelog (Aug 7, 2011):

Glide2:
-added support for Descent 2 (with DOSBox + Gulikoza patch)
-added support for F-16 Multirole Fighter
-added support for F-22 Lightning 3
-added support for Nascar Racing 3
-added support for TrickStyle
-added support for Uprising: Join or Die
-added support for Uprising 2: Lead and Destroy
-added support for Uprising 2: Lead and Destroy (Demo)
-fixed Croc: Legend of the Gobbos transparency issues
-fixed MIG-29 Fulcrum textures bugs
-fixed POD Gold car wheels bug
-fixed Powerslide texturing and primitive issues
-fixed Sports Car GT mipmap option crash
-fixed Sub Culture no movies bug
-fixed Wacky Races blue menu bug

Glide3:
-improved support for TEXTUREBUFFER extension (used by Glide64)
-fixed Sinistar: Unleashed crash

Miscellaneous:
-added support for Alt+Tab switching
-improved points and lines drawing method
-fixed compatibility with Antialiasing forced in the Display driver panel
-fixed primitive clipping problem on AMD Radeons


The miscellaneous is the best part of this update. You can grab it at our repository or over at Zeus's site.
 

 Aug 16, 2011 - 07:59 AM - by Michael
Kitten Break
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ok, these are kittens, but they're scientific kittens, the first-ever litter born of an incredibly rare breed of cat through artificial insemination.

You may now squee.
 

 Aug 09, 2011 - 10:20 AM - by Michael
Real Life Zombieland?
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you want to see some truly breathtaking photos, there's a photo tour of the abandoned New Orleans Six Flags Amusement Park for you to view.

I encourage looking at it. It's amazing what is left behind, sadly abandoned, and what's become of it since.
 

 Aug 03, 2011 - 06:58 PM - by Michael
US privacy law belly-up
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's an interesting op-ed by Violet Blue about the latest "think of the children" nonsense bill to go through the US Government.

CNET?s Declan McCullagh reminds us that ?the mandatory logs would be accessible to police investigating any crime and perhaps attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases as well.? CNET reported that mandatory data retention was being fast-tracked in January, 2011.

The fact that civil litigants could subpoena your internet activity and the contents of your wallet has nothing to do with the labeled and stated purpose of this bill.

?The bill is mislabeled,? said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. ?This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It?s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.?
Big Brother is back for another round, it seems.
 

 Jul 20, 2011 - 05:44 PM - by Michael
Movie Review for Winnie The Pooh
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Personal Stuff/Random News While taking a bit of a much-needed vacation, I happened to see Winnie The Pooh in theaters.

The verdict is in. Do yourself a favor and see it in a theater, please.

Some things should be treasured. Winnie The Pooh, in all his incarnations, is one of them.
 

 Jul 12, 2011 - 07:45 AM - by Michael
Making Polaroid Film
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is a freaking awesome video: the story and demonstration on how Polaroid film is made. Video made possible by The Impossible Project, who bought up the machinery and necessary rights to keep making the instant film after Polaroid shut down their manufacturing a few years ago.

If you have an old Polaroid camera, don't throw it out - you can still get film!

 

 Jul 11, 2011 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
HDMI disallows adapters?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ouch - cables to convert DisplayPort to HDMI may be "illegal" under the HDMI specification and associated contracts:

According to Charlene Wan, director of marketing for HDMI LLC, any cable that does not include HDMI connectors on both ends violates the specification. "The HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having ONLY HDMI connectors on the ends," she wrote via an email interview. "Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed."

That apparently includes Apple's mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters, which are also sold by Belkin on Apple's Web site. A support document lists a number of Apple products that use mini-DisplayPort connections, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and Mac Pro.
This could cause a serious issue for makers, and then for users who wind up trying to connect devices that need an adapter.
 

 Jul 11, 2011 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Harvard privacy problem
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Personal Stuff/Random News A group of researchers at Harvard are in trouble for what they did with data pulled from Facebook:

Adding to the complications, researchers like Mr. Kaufman are being asked to safeguard privacy in an era when grant-making agencies increasingly request that data be shared?as the National Science Foundation did as a condition for backing Harvard's Facebook study.

The Facebook project began to unravel in 2008, when a privacy scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Michael Zimmer, showed that the "anonymous" data of Mr. Kaufman and his colleagues could be cracked to identify the source as Harvard undergraduates.
There's a lot of depth to this one. Unfortunately, a human-subjects aspect (get permission people!) they really screwed up.
 

 Jul 11, 2011 - 07:43 AM - by Michael
Google Privacy?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting article comparing Google+ to Google Buzz on privacy:

By making Google+ available to a very limited set of initial testers, Google is showing that it learned its lesson from the privacy fiasco that followed the sudden, widespread launch of its Twitter-like Buzz service, which earned the company boos and lawsuits from end users, and investigations and fines from government agencies for unilaterally and publicly disclosing previously hidden Gmail connections.

The conservative approach to Google+'s availability is allowing Google to gather valuable feedback and patch bugs, including privacy holes, before making the site available to a mass audience, when glitches would have exponential consequences, experts said in e-mail interviews.
The downside is, one it's "open" it's probably going to be much like Google Mail. Signups either with an "invitation", or extortion to have you give them your phone number to register via text message.
 

 Jul 07, 2011 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
Trademark Fraud
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Personal Stuff/Random News A lawyer in New York is trying to steal the name of Bitcoin, the online open-source currency. Slashdot has the story.

This is despicable.

 

 Jul 07, 2011 - 07:32 AM - by Michael
No more smelly socks?
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Personal Stuff/Random News And presto - a clothing treatment that may be able to permanently shield clothes from a variety of germs, including the ones that make socks smell.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, Dr Jason Locklin and his colleagues state that the treatment kills a wide range of dangerous pathogens, including staph, strep, E. coli, pseudomonas and acetinobacter.

Many of these can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains and produce odours.

When the scientists tested the product, they found that a single application was enough to stop all further bacterial growth at up to 37 degrees Celsius.

And the solution did not degrade even after multiple hot water laundry cycles.
Note: it doesn't stop the feet from smelling. Just the socks.
 

 Jul 07, 2011 - 07:28 AM - by Michael
Geocaching scares cops
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Personal Stuff/Random News Apparently a british town was shut down recently when a police officer mistook a geocache for a hidden bomb:

Ch Insp Mick Hunter, who was in charge of the response last Friday, said: "Police don't want to spoil people's fun and if people want to geocache then that's great.

"But in placing the caches, what I would say is, please apply some common sense to where you put them."

He also questions putting caches in urban areas.

"If you feel as though you have to do that, then perhaps contact the police, let us know where it is, give us a description and perhaps a picture and a contact number would be very useful."
Amazingly, the police had a good-sense response to it. They didn't say people shouldn't do it, they didn't say it was illegal... they just suggested, for sake of not having mistakes like this, that a small bit of proactive planning (e.g. telling the police that there is a geocache there) would help. Good on you, british cops!
 

 Jun 30, 2011 - 10:21 AM - by Michael
4th of July
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Personal Stuff/Random News For our US readers... enjoy your holiday weekend!
 

 Jun 28, 2011 - 08:17 AM - by Michael
Star Wars eBook day
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Personal Stuff/Random News Like to read? Got one of those strange e-book reader things?

The remainder of the Star Wars library is going up.

Or, for a lot cheaper, you can probably pick up most of them in paperback at a store like Half Price Books.

Given that the e-book prices listed are more than the original book's paperback MSRP prices... I'd go with HPB first.
 

 Jun 20, 2011 - 07:36 AM - by Michael
The end of books?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Another round of people predicting the end of physical books.

We are in a special moment that will not last beyond the end of this century: Paper books are plentiful. They are cheap and everywhere, from airports to drug stores to libraries to bookstores to the shelves of millions of homes. There has never been a better time to be a lover of paper books. But very rapidly the production of paper books will essentially cease, and the collections in homes will dwindle, and even local libraries will not be supported to house books -- particularly popular titles. Rare books will collect in a few rare book libraries, and for the most part common paper books archives will become uncommon. It seems hard to believe now, but within a few generations, seeing a actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion.

Brewster decided that he should keep a copy of every book they scan so that somewhere in the world there was at least one physical copy to represent the millions of digital copies. That safeguarded random book would become the type specimen of that work. If anyone ever wondered if the digital book's text had become corrupted or altered, they could refer back to the physical type that was archived somewhere safe.
Despite the push of e-readers and similar devices lately, I'm not seeing it. There are times when a digital copy may well work better, but there are equally many times when people really want to own their copy.
 

 Jun 18, 2011 - 08:18 AM - by Michael
Dirty Secrets
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Personal Stuff/Random News In the world of games journalism... this happens all the time.

The companies just usually don't admit to it up front.
 

 Jun 17, 2011 - 07:39 AM - by Michael
Spongebob the Mushroom
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Personal Stuff/Random News A new rainforest mushroom has been discovered and named after Spongebob Squarepants, indicating that some scientist has a 5-year-old who watches way too much TV.

The mushroom's cool, though.

Shaped like a sea sponge, S. squarepantsii was found in 2010 in the Lambir Hills in Sarawak, Malaysia. It is bright orange -- although it can turn purple when sprinkled with a strong chemical base -- and smells "vaguely fruity or strongly musty," according to Desjardin and colleagues' description published in the journal Mycologia.

Under a scanning electron microscope, the spore-producing area of the fungus looks like a seafloor carpeted in tube sponges, which further convinced the researchers to name their find after the famous Bob.
 

 Jun 14, 2011 - 01:00 PM - by Michael
Chinese Spy Cars
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Personal Stuff/Random News Not what you think - word is that Chinese cars in Hong Kong may have spying devices attached to them.

The device, no larger than a PDA, is taped onto the vehicle?s front window. Protective tape covers the screws, presumably to prevent tampering?though it didn?t stop Apple Daily from removing the devices, taking them to experts for inspection, and presenting pictures of them splayed open on their website, with neat graphics indicating the various internal components.

Apple Daily says they took the device to a university professor and a private investigator, both of whom attested to the espionage potential of the units.
Audio recording, bluetooth file dumping... intriguing. While discovered by smugglers, what else might they be recording?
 

 Jun 14, 2011 - 11:25 AM - by Michael
Apple pays Nokia
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Personal Stuff/Random News Apple is now going to be licensing patents from Nokia.

This is after two years of arguments and lawsuits back and forth over phone patents.

The winner out of this settlement is, however, Nokia. As a part of the settlement, Apple has agreed to become a licensee of Nokia?s patents. As a part of the licensing agreement, Apple has agreed to give Nokia a one-time payment and ongoing royalties. The exact terms of the agreement ? including the amount to be paid ? have not been disclosed.
Given how Nokia is falling in the market place, however, who knows what comes next. It's very possible this just throws them a lifeline for a while.
 

 Jun 06, 2011 - 03:19 PM - by Michael
E3
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Personal Stuff/Random News So, there's this E3 thing coming on. Apparently a bunch of companies saved "keynote announcements" of... yeah, a bunch of games we won't see for 2 years from now pretty much. Hype, hype, more hype.

But if you're interested...
Halo 4, Minecraft on the 360, Kinect Star Wars, More Kinect Silliness, and an anniversary edition of the original Halo.

Ta-dahh.

 

 May 25, 2011 - 01:00 PM - by Michael
Illusions
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Personal Stuff/Random News Anyone up for some optical illusions?
 

 May 23, 2011 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
In case anyone is in the area
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Personal Stuff/Random News Comicpalooza is happening in the city of Houston this weekend.

This is gonna be huge, folks.
 

 May 23, 2011 - 10:42 AM - by Michael
Facebook vs Google... again.
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Personal Stuff/Random News It just keeps on giving - more Facebook vs Google snarkiness.

Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson, citing two reasons: first, it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, Facebook resents Google?s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.
Meanwhile, consumers yawn and point out that both of them are pretty evil these days but also downright ubiquitous.
 

 May 20, 2011 - 06:50 PM - by Michael
Randy Savage, RIP
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Personal Stuff/Random News Wrestling fans and people who've seen the old Slim Jim commercials will recognize this one.

Randy Savage, or "The Macho Man" Randy Savage to wrestling fans, has died after a car crash.
 

 May 11, 2011 - 02:57 PM - by Michael
Namco Screenshots
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Personal Stuff/Random News In addition to press releases, Namco/Bandai have sent out some screenshots and art pieces. Please enjoy - the first three are a couple of art concepts and the logo for Soul Calibur V, followed by a set of screenshots from Armored Core V.
 

 May 11, 2011 - 01:55 PM - by Michael
Tekken movie in 3D
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Personal Stuff/Random News Just to round everything out - a Tekken movie, titled "Blood Vengeance", in 3d:
SANTA CLARA, Calif., - May 11, 2011 ? NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced that TEKKEN Blood VengeanceTM, a new full-length 3D compatible feature film, created in full CG and set in the rich Tekken universe, will be releasing in summer 2011. Taking place in the world and true to the characters and history of the Tekken franchise, TEKKEN Blood Vengeance is being produced by Digital Frontier (Resident Evil: Degeneration, Death Note and Appleseed), with the screenplay written by Dai Sato (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Cowboy Bebop). Directing the project will be Youichi Mouri, who directed the opening movies for both Tekken? 5 and Tekken? 6: Bloodline Rebellion.

?We?re thrilled to be taking the characters, history, and legacy of the Tekken universe into a full-length 3D movie,? said Carlson Choi, Vice President of Marketing, NAMCO BANDAI Games America. ?Tekken is one of the most recognizable fighting franchises in video games and we believe fans have an enthusiastic appetite for seeing the characters in a new medium. This is a great opportunity for players to learn the histories and motivations behind the fighters who join the King of Iron Fist Tournament.?

"Over the past years that I've been working on Tekken, fans have been begging for a full CG Tekken movie," said Tekken creator and project director Katsuhiro Harada. "This movie is for those fans. Tekken has always been known for its colorful array of characters and background stories, and this movie is just one way of exploring that world from a new angle while bringing insight to the series."

 

 May 11, 2011 - 12:10 PM - by Michael
Dark Souls
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Personal Stuff/Random News Demon Souls gets a followup with the "spiritual successor", Dark Souls. If you hover your mouse over the link and say "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya", it's a lot funnier.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., - May 11, 2011 - Leading video game publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced the exclusive pre-order incentives and Collector?s Edition of Dark Souls?, releasing in North America and Europe in October 2011 for the Xbox 360? video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation?3 computer entertainment system. A new action-role playing game (RPG) developed by FromSoftware, Dark Souls is the spiritual successor to 2009?s critically acclaimed Demon?s Souls.

The Dark Souls Collector?s Edition can be pre-ordered for $59.99, the same price as the standard edition, and will include a limited edition art book containing premium illustrations of characters and environments from the game, a mini-strategy guidebook, behind-the-scenes videos from the development studio detailing various stages of game concept, design and building, and the game?s soundtrack for digital download. All of this will come packaged with the standard edition game in a custom-designed metal case.

Spiritual successor to PlayStation?3 system exclusive Demon?s Souls ? winner of GameSpot?s ?Overall Game of the Year? and ?Best PS3 Game?, and IGN?s ?Best RPG for PS3? awards ? Dark Souls also brings that game?s uniquely challenging and rewarding style of gameplay to the Xbox 360? for the first time. Stricken by the curse of undead, gamers are abolished to the northern realms and must battle hideous demons and unimaginable monsters to collect souls and find the Eternal Flame of Life, which is losing its light, to survive and cure the curse of undead.

With tense dungeon crawling and fearsome enemy encounters, the seamlessly intertwined world of Dark Souls is full of extreme battles, rewarding challenges, nuanced weaponry and magic, and the flexibility to customize each character to suit any desired play style. The innovative online component allows gamers to draw from the collective experience of the Dark Souls community as they either help or sabotage each other on the journey through the Northern Realms to save the land from darkness. With a massive, seamless open world design, Dark Souls encourages deep exploration and an adaptable gameplay experience.

Dark Souls will be available throughout North America and Europe in October 2011.

 

 May 11, 2011 - 12:07 PM - by Michael
Tales Series - Namco
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Personal Stuff/Random News RPG gamers can relax - Namco/Bandai has two iterations of the Tales series coming as well. It's not all fighting games:
SANTA CLARA, Calif., (May 11, 2011) ? Leading video game publisher and developer, NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced its acclaimed role-playing titles Tales of Graces? f for the PlayStation?3 computer entertainment system, and Tales of the Abyss? for the Nintendo 3DS? system will be released in North America. Tales of Graces f and Tales of the Abyss will both offer brilliant graphics, a dynamic real-time battle system, and deep, captivating stories filled with exciting quests and hidden secrets.

Tales of Graces f is the latest title in the renowned Tales series and the first North American appearance of the franchise on PlayStation?3 system. Set amidst the conflict of three kingdoms competing for planetary dominance, the story follows Asbel Lhant and his friends as they come to discover in time just how far they will go to protect the bonds between them.

For the first time in the Tales series, the combat system lets the player freely change attack style depending on the battle situation. The characters? distinctive weapons can be swapped for different styles, and the new combat system is easier to control while simultaneously adding new levels of tactical depth. The title is developed by NAMCO TALES STUDIO LTD. in Japan with the aim of bringing to life the rich depth of the evocative characters created by Mutsumi Inomata.

Tales of the Abyss, the critically-acclaimed PlayStation?2 computer entertainment system role playing game, is updated for the Nintendo 3DS system. The upcoming title delivers full 3D support and use of the dual screens to bring players closer to the action. Tales of the Abyss tells the story of Luke fon Fabre, sole heir to a family of aristocrats, as he is suddenly thrust into the outside world on an epic adventure. Na?ve and spoiled by years of isolation, Luke struggles to learn of friendship, sacrifice, duty and of choice. With the fates of many in his hands, Luke's actions could ultimately save the world or bring about its very destruction.

Tales of Graces f will be available in 2012 and Tales of the Abyss will be available later this year for North America.

 

 May 11, 2011 - 12:05 PM - by Michael
Soul Calibur V
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Personal Stuff/Random News Namco's got a major blitz of game announcements today. First up: Soul Calibur V.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., (May 11, 2011) ? Leading video game publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced SOULCALIBUR?V, the newest installment of its multi-million selling weapons-based fighting series for the Xbox 360? video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and PlayStation?3 computer entertainment system. It delivers exhilarating 3D fighting mechanics, breathtaking visuals, and new characters, as well as expanding the online and character creation modes. SOULCALIBUR V is poised to become the preeminent fighting game experience of 2012.

?The SOULCALIBUR? series continues to be one of NAMCO BANDAI Games? most cherished franchises,? said Carlson Choi, vice president of marketing NAMCO BANDAI Games America. ?SOULCALIBUR V will continue to advance the series? legacy of white-knuckled weapon-based combat, gorgeous graphics and groundbreaking features that will amaze newcomers and long-time fans alike.?

Developed by the legendary Project Soul? team, SOULCALIBUR V picks up 17 years after the events of SOULCALIBUR?IV with new heroes and returning warriors clashing in an epic showdown between good and evil. The tale of Patroklos, son of Sophitia Alexandra, unfolds as his family?s destiny intertwines with the Soul swords. With the series? revolutionary 8-way run, allowing for true 3D movement during matches, a refined battle system, and stunning graphics, SOULCALIBUR V will be the top game of 2012 for anyone looking for a knock-down, drag-out fight.

 

 May 11, 2011 - 07:30 AM - by Michael
Sid Meier - 'Games taking over'
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sid Meier says that games are taking over the entertainment landscape over at CNN.

I think we've heard this argument before.

Nestled in there is an interesting nugget, however: 200-player games of Civilization, organized through Facebook. This could be extremely, extremely addictive. I remember the old days of hot-seat Civ multiplayer games, everyone taking turns to make their moves. Pulling it off on Facebook will be challenging, but not nearly out of the question.
 

 Apr 28, 2011 - 07:46 AM - by Michael
Doug Chaffee, RIP
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you're only a video gamer, you may not have heard of him, but you should have - his art definitely impacted the video game world. Doug Chaffee has passed on.
 

 Apr 22, 2011 - 07:17 AM - by Michael
Milking it
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Personal Stuff/Random News This doesn't just apply to Activision, but Gamepro has an editorial on the sad state of the industry in regard to those "yearly" franchises that somehow keep going even when the product is the same thing over and over and over.

Gaming is one of the only forms of media where this "push it until it burns out" philosophy seems to happen. Sure, we're getting a fifth Fast and Furious movie which I'm not convinced anyone wants, and some may argue that TV shows like How I Met Your Mother are dragging themselves out in an extremely transparent sort of way. But that pales in comparison to the 7 mainline Call of Duty games we've had in eight years (with another to follow later this year, and numerous spinoffs) -- not to mention 15 mainline Final Fantasies, endless variations on Street Fighter and, of course, the 12 Guitar Hero games (plus handheld spinoffs) that we've had since 2005. And don't get me started on sports games.
Indeed. Madden 2011, Same Crappy Gameplay, More Shoelace Detail.

Thank you, Pete Davison, for saying what most of us have been thinking for years now.
 

 Apr 20, 2011 - 06:59 AM - by Michael
Elisabeth Sladen
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Personal Stuff/Random News The best memorial possible: right here.

 

 Apr 11, 2011 - 03:12 PM - by Michael
Geohotz over?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Odd word coming out - Sony v Geohotz has apparently been settled.

Hotz apparently accepted some sort of "injunction" as part of the settlement. Nobody seems to have any real specifics yet.
 

 Apr 11, 2011 - 07:59 AM - by Michael
Hacker Defense: USGov asked me to
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Personal Stuff/Random News A hacker has offered up a unique defense in appealing his conviction: he says that the US government authorized him to do it, then blamed him when they needed a fall guy.

The government has acknowledged that Gonzalez was a key undercover Secret Service informant at the time of the breaches. Now, in a March 24 habeas corpus petition filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Gonzalez asserts that the Secret Service authorized him to commit the crimes.

?I still believe that I was acting on behalf of the United States Secret Service and that I was authorized and directed to engage in the conduct I committed as part of my assignment to gather intelligence and seek out international cyber criminals,? he wrote. ?I now know and understand that I have been used as a scapegoat to cover someone?s mistakes.?

In his 25-page petition, he faults one of his attorneys for failing to prepare a ?Public Authority? defense, by which someone who commits a crime argues that he did so with the approval of government authorities.
This is going to be interesting to watch.
 

 Apr 08, 2011 - 10:29 AM - by Michael
Which creatures to save?
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Personal Stuff/Random News In non-gaming but interesting news... scientists in the preservation field have come up with an index of creatures, trying to decide which "nearly extinct" species are worth the effort of trying to save.

"But if you take a strictly empirical view, things that are well below in numbering in the hundreds - white-footed rock rats, certain types of hare wallabies, a lot of the smaller mammals that have been really nailed by the feral predators like cats, and foxes - in some cases it is probably not worthwhile putting a lot of effort because there's just no chance."

Professor Bradshaw says when the ratio is applied internationally it suggests the Javan rhino and New Zealand kakapo are beyond cost-effective rescue.

He says the index is based on the probability of a species becoming extinct.
Sadly, the mosquito is still not in need of protection.
 

 Apr 06, 2011 - 08:17 AM - by Michael
Unneeded Multiplayer
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Personal Stuff/Random News Randy Pitchford has something important to say:

?Let?s forget about what the actual promise of a game is and whether it?s suited to a narrative or competitive experience,? he tells us. ?Take that off the table for a minute and just think about the concept-free feature list: campaign, co-op, how many players? How many guns? How long is the campaign?

?When you boil it down to that, you take the ability to make good decisions out of the picture. And the reason they do it is because they notice that the biggest blockbusters offer a little bit for every kind of consumer. You have people that want co-op and competitive, and players who want to immerse themselves in deep fiction. But the concept has to speak to that automatically; it can?t be forced. That?s the problem.?
Thanks. I for one am completely tired of getting games that have only 4-5 hours of single player gameplay that basically amounts to a "tutorial for multiplayer" (looking at you, Call of Doody).
 

 Apr 05, 2011 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Threats to Open Source
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Personal Stuff/Random News In the Linux/Open-Source community, a longstanding debate gets a great write-up over at ITWorld. Brian Profitt offers up perspective on the question of whether patents or copyright are more dangerous in stopping open-source software from competing in the market:

But sometimes copyright assignment can be confusingly Machievllian, even in open source land.

Canonical, for instance, is one company that in the past has been knocked about on this issue. Developers and free software advocates have argued that it agreement, while simple and strightforward in form, actually contains what appear to be trapdoors. They're not hidden, either, as seen in Clause 6:
If copyrights didn't last so long, this might not be so big an issue - but he's right, copyright has plenty of loopholes and problems when it comes to giving back to the open-source community.
 

 Apr 05, 2011 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
A bookless library?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Community outrage erupted after a proposal for removing books from a library in California. Currently, it's on hold.

The plan called for librarians to be replaced with a digital kiosk, and for those people who wanted to request a book, they'd need to know the specific title and request for it to be delivered to a storage locker where they could pick it up at a later date. Essentially, the branch would be retired as a functional library.
 

 Apr 05, 2011 - 07:37 AM - by Michael
Gamestop Acquires!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Gamestop have acquired Impulse, the game store previously run by Stardock.

They've also purchased Spawnlabs, makers of a game-streaming setup.

What does this mean? Probably that Gamestop have it in mind to start competing with the digital distribution model that's proven rather successful for Steam, the three consoles, and even companies selling older games like BigFish and GoG.
 

 Apr 05, 2011 - 07:32 AM - by Michael
Verizon slapped down
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Personal Stuff/Random News Verizon's been told to wait their turn in the cell/internet provider's lawsuit against the FCC regarding Net Neutrality rules.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted in its decision that the FCC's net neutrality order is a rule-making document subject to judicial review once it is published in the Federal Register. The panel said that the appeal's "prematurity is incurable."
This isn't really a surprise. Expect the lawsuits re-filed as soon as the rules are officially published in the Federal Register.
 

 Mar 26, 2011 - 07:43 PM - by Michael
Happy Birthday, Leonard Nimoy!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Leonard Nimoy is 80 years old today.

In celebration, StarTrek.com has released a 3-part interview:
Part 1.
Part 2
Part 3.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy.
 

 Mar 22, 2011 - 04:24 PM - by Michael
Shatner 80
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Personal Stuff/Random News Whether you like him or not... William Shatner is now 80 years old.
 

 Mar 17, 2011 - 10:49 AM - by Michael
"Real Guitars."
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Personal Stuff/Random News Yes, Ubisoft has announced a title that will have players actually playing real guitars.

Darnit. Now I have to go buy a real guitar.
 

 Mar 11, 2011 - 10:19 AM - by Michael
Watch what you say...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Welcome to the land of crazy - a Bioware poster has been banned from playing Dragon Age II by EA for saying nasty things about EA on the Bioware forums.

The catch? He's banned from the single player game.

Yes, that's right, they are holding his purchased game hostage.

But restricting access to a singleplayer, offline game, even in an incidental situation like this, is a problem. EA's consolidation of online accounts can be a good thing in some cases (I appreciate the convenience of EA Sports games knowing who I am because of my gamertag), but in cases like this, it's also a cause for concern.

Not to mention serving as an example, if ever one was needed, that in 2011 a video game is never truly and 100% your property.
Ouch.
 

 Mar 03, 2011 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
Medical Privacy
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Personal Stuff/Random News In a bit more sober note, the EFF's filed an amicus brief in an upcoming Supreme Court case regarding medical privacy.

If you're a law nerd or otherwise into some drier reading, the full brief is available over on their website as well.

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to focus on the
privacy issues at stake in a battle over the sale and data
mining of medical records, urging justices to reverse a
ruling that could jeopardize patient privacy.

At issue is Vermont's Prescription Confidentially Law,
which bans pharmacies from selling or using patients'
prescription records for marketing purposes without the
doctor's express consent. Companies that collect and sell
these records challenged the law in court, arguing that
they use "de-identified" information and that the law
infringed their corporate free speech rights. The 2nd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the companies.
In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, EFF argued that the
appeals court wrongly ignored patient privacy in its
decision.

"There are serious questions about the efficacy of such
'de-identification.' We're concerned that the data-mining
will expose patients' prescription histories, which leads
to discovery of their underlying medical conditions," said
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Requiring consent
before using this extremely sensitive data is a reasonable
protection, and claiming this information is 'public' and
not really private goes against common sense. The First
Amendment does not require the sacrifice of our privacy to
promote data exchanges that benefit only commercial
interests."
 

 Mar 03, 2011 - 07:11 AM - by Michael
New Charges for Manning
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over in the Wikileaks saga, pfc Bradley Manning is up on 22 new charges in connection with the leaked diplomatic cables story. Britain's <a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/03/bradley-manning-may-face-death-penalty">The Guardian has an alternate stance on the story.

I really have no comment. Much of what was leaked was boring, but the question is whether any of it was harmful... and we civilians don't always know what harm is done until decades after the drama unfolds.

 

 Feb 08, 2011 - 08:30 AM - by Michael
Carnivorous Furniture
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ok, yeah, this is just pretty odd.

I'm surprised they didn't design their clock like a Pitcher Plant. It'd have removed the need for the motor.
 

 Feb 04, 2011 - 07:04 PM - by Michael
"Piracy" boosts sales?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one - a Japanese study of anime titles suggests that "piracy" actually increases DVD sales.

The results of the Japanese research confirm that piracy does not always have to be associated with a decrease in sales. Similar effects have been observed for music piracy and book piracy as well.

One point of critique based on the main conclusions of the study, is that the observed relation only appears to be correlational. This may mean that the results could in part be influenced by significant third variables such as promotion and overall popularity. Since the report is only available in Japanese we were unable to confirm whether this was taken into account.
It's quite intriguing to see studies like this out. Maybe it'll make the various content associations start to be a little less hamhanded in their treatment of customers.
 

 Feb 01, 2011 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
Video games as driving trainers
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Personal Stuff/Random News Motor Authority blog has a great story covering the question of whether or not video games make for safer, or less safe, drivers.

The first, which we brought to you last September courtesy of the University of Rochester, says video games enhance reaction time and improve the likelihood that a gamer will make the right decision under pressure.
...
But on the other side of the issue we have a new study released today by Continental Tire in the print edition of Metro. Contrary to the Rochester results, Continental finds that frequent players of titles like Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto are more likely to crash their real-life cars than those that don't.
Personally, I'd lean towards "which kind of game do you play?", since there are simulators for driving/racing and simulators that almost qualify as a demolition derby. As for the rest, well... self-reporting studies trying to correlate with other data are notoriously unreliable.
 

 Jan 27, 2011 - 06:43 AM - by Michael
Gaming History
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ars has a great history of adventure games up.

Plenty of classics to go for here, many available from sites like GOG.
 

 Jan 24, 2011 - 08:31 AM - by Michael
More Matrix?
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Personal Stuff/Random News As if they haven't inflicted enough suffering on the world already, the Wachowski Brothers are apparently planning to make two more sequels to The Matrix.

This cannot end well.
 

 Jan 22, 2011 - 01:08 PM - by Michael
The Comics Code is Dead
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Personal Stuff/Random News The Comics Code Authority is officially dead.

If only it had happened decades earlier, comics would be a far more respected artistic medium.

Thus ends the last clinging particle of darkest days in comics history, an era that did its best to choke the life out of an artform ? but didn?t succeed. Created in the paranoid days of the commie scare ? a period much shorter in its reign than the current post 9/11 world ? the Comics Code was for a time a very real chain around the neck of the American comics industry. It wasn?t until the underground comics and alternative publishers of the 70s that it became clear that comics without the seal of approval would find an audience without scarring the nation forever. And the nation is all the better for it.
The Comics Code Authority is dead. Long live the art of comic books!
 

 Jan 21, 2011 - 09:55 AM - by Michael
Apple Screws with Screws
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Personal Stuff/Random News iFixit has word that Apple are making it much more difficult to repair your devices by sticking in a "tamper resistant screw":

It?s similar to a Torx?except that the points have a rounder shape, and it has five points instead of six. Apple?s service manuals refer to them as ?Pentalobular? screws, which is a descriptive enough term. It?s certainly better than what I came up with, which was ?Evil Proprietary Tamper Proof Five Point Screw.? It?s best I stay out of the naming business.

Contrary to what has been widely reported elswhere, this is not a security Torx screw. Security Torx have a post in the middle. Apple would never use a real Torx security screw with a post for two reasons: they?re ugly, and the posts break off easily with screw heads this small. To further complicate matters, Apple occasionally refers to these as ?Pentalobe security screws.? Please don?t confuse them with security Torx.

This screw head is new to us. In fact, there isn?t a single reputable supplier that sells exactly the same screwdrivers Apple?s technicians use?which is Apple?s point. They picked an obscure head that no one would have. This new screw defeats even our vaunted 54-bit driver kit, which until now we?ve been able to claim that it?s all you need to disassemble just about any consumer electronics. Alas, no more. Thanks a lot, Apple!
Emphasis added.
 

 Jan 19, 2011 - 12:57 PM - by Michael
Lieberman to Retire
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Personal Stuff/Random News Good news from the world of politics: Joe "f*** the first amendment, let's ban videogames" Lieberman is going to retire in 2012.

On behalf of gamers everywhere: good riddance, not soon enough.
 

 Dec 23, 2010 - 11:03 AM - by Michael
It's the Eyes
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's some fascinating research into what makes the "Uncanny Valley" effect.

Short version - it's the eyes.
 

 Dec 20, 2010 - 07:38 AM - by Michael
Lunar Eclipse
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Personal Stuff/Random News Tonight is a great night to stay up for some stargazing.

Total Lunar Eclipse on schedule.
 

 Dec 20, 2010 - 07:26 AM - by Michael
Hitchhiking
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you're looking for something interesting to watch this week, Hulu has the BBC Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series up for free viewing.
 

 Nov 28, 2010 - 11:14 PM - by Michael
RIP, Leslie Nielsen
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Personal Stuff/Random News Word is going around that Leslie Nielsen has passed away today.

Goodbye, surely.
 

 Nov 26, 2010 - 11:25 AM - by Michael
Domains seized in dead of night
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's a story over on torrentfreak regarding US ICE seizing the torrent-finder.com domain, an interesting move given that the site does not host torrents nor provide tracking, but merely is a meta-search engine that collates other sites' search results.

If the US passes the COICA, one might expect this to get even worse.
 

 Nov 23, 2010 - 12:18 PM - by Michael
TSA Screenings
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Personal Stuff/Random News To any of our readers out there flying this thanksgiving season, please don't do what Adam Savage did.

Be courteous and kind to the TSA guys, keep the lines moving smoothly, and remember that everyone else in line has the same goal in mind: getting out to see family and friends for the holiday.

That being said: I agree with his base statement of "WTF, TSA?"
 

 Nov 09, 2010 - 07:22 AM - by Michael
Bethesda and Bugs
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Personal Stuff/Random News Gamrfeed offers up a rallying cry, once again raising the flag to get gamers to not buy games until they have proper quality control.

The culprit this time? Fallout: New Vegas. And though I have enjoyed my time with the NCR of late, the occasional freeze-ups (one of which did, indeed, eat a save file) have been getting more and more annoying.

It?s things like this that make me categorically accept allegations that Bethesda forced unfavorable reviews of New Vegas to be taken down. It?s no wonder considering how they just care about selling the game during the critical first week, leaving purchasers in the lurch for weeks until they decide to fix it.

These flaws are inherent to a broken game engine that has had crippling errors since Oblivion. Remember that fun bug in Shivering Isles that would kick in after 50 hours of gameplay and cause the game to be completely unplayable? Ah, the memories.

...

Gamers need to stop supporting games that are not released properly for sale in the marketplace. Just as you should not support a series of movies that release with severe video artifacts in every release, you should not support games with broken animations and an infrastructure that does not support intended usage.
 

 Oct 25, 2010 - 07:46 AM - by Michael
Banana Jr Lives
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Personal Stuff/Random News Behold one heck of a conversion project.

Well done to the creator, however. Customizing the OS is a nice touch!
 

 Oct 18, 2010 - 08:34 AM - by Michael
Desktop Linux - a pipe dream?
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Personal Stuff/Random News PC World has a column pronouncing the idea of widespread Linux desktop adoption simply unrealistic.

Although Asus managed to spark a massive trend with cheap, simple netbook PCs, it opted to ship systems preinstalled with a Xandros distribution that left a lot to be desired. Other vendors moved just as clumsily with a host of bad options that gave Microsoft room to sweep the market by extending the life of Windows XP. In that one gesture, all hope was lost for Linux's netbook revolution. Meanwhile, desktop users who fled Windows Vista mostly just switched to Macs or reverted to Windows XP.

By the time Microsoft released the Windows 7 beta in January 2009, Linux had clearly lost its chance at desktop glory.
There's a lot to take note of here - if the Linux community would listen.
 

 Oct 16, 2010 - 02:49 PM - by Michael
Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP
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Personal Stuff/Random News The world has lost a great mathematician.

Rest in peace, Benoit Mandelbrot.
 

 Oct 11, 2010 - 07:45 AM - by Michael
Anyone call for a swamp monster?
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Personal Stuff/Random News In Madagascar, a new mammalian swamp predator has been discovered.

Mean looking thing, too, with some nasty-big-sharp teeth.

"We have known for some time that a carnivore lives in the Lac Alaotra marshes, but we?ve always assumed it was a brown-tailed vontsira that is also found in the eastern rainforests," said Fidimalala Bruno Ralainasolo, a conservation biologist working for Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust who originally captured the new carnivore. "However, differences in its skull, teeth, and paws have shown that this animal is clearly a different species with adaptations to life in an aquatic environment."
 

 Oct 05, 2010 - 02:56 PM - by Michael
Who's Suing Who
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over in the UK, the Guardian puts forth an interesting graph: the who's suing who of the mobile phone world.

In other words, one big mess. The current most-sued contender seems to be either Apple or Motorola, though Microsoft and Apple are both suing Android phone makers over certain design elements.
 

 Oct 05, 2010 - 02:52 PM - by Michael
Building the ancient
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Personal Stuff/Random News O'Reilly Radar covers a project to actually build a complete version of Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a "physical computer" the cranky genius had designed to try to replace plots and graphs generated by error-prone humans.

Babbage came up with the idea of the Analytical Engine while working on a machine to automatically produce mathematical tables (such as tables of logarithms). Mathematical tables were extensively used at the time -- and well into the 20th century -- and they were calculated by hand by people referred to as "computers." Babbage hoped to eliminate errors made by these computers by replacing them with a machine capable of performing the relevant calculations automatically.

...

Simulating the machine using 3D modeling software and a physics engine would enable us to bring the machine to life without making any metal parts. Given the size and complexity of the machine, this step is vital. And since the final machine would wear out if constantly used, it would provide a way of demonstrating the Engine.

It might seem a folly to want to build a gigantic, relatively puny computer at great expense 170 years after its invention. But the message of a completed Analytical Engine is very clear: it's possible to be 100 years ahead of your own time...
It's an intriguing idea. I'd be interested in seeing the completed project one day.
 

 Oct 05, 2010 - 02:44 PM - by Michael
Enslaved is out
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Personal Stuff/Random News Word from Namco Bandai - Enslaved: Oddysey to the West is out in stores:
SANTA CLARA, Calif., (Oct. 5, 2010) ? Leading video game publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced that ENSLAVED?: Odyssey to the West? is now available nationwide for the Xbox 360? video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation?3 computer entertainment system. Developed by Ninja Theory Ltd., the post-apocalyptic action-adventure features influences and contributions from top music and film industry talent. ENSLAVED combines beautifully rendered graphics and captivating music with seamless animation and engrossing gameplay to deliver a premier entertainment experience.

Set 150 years in the future, ENSLAVED takes place in an unrecognizable America, where war and destruction have ravaged the population leaving few human survivors and a world reclaimed by nature. Mysterious slave ships roam the land, capturing the dwindling population for unknown purposes and taking them out west, never to return. Technologically savvy young Trip and strong brutish Monkey are two survivors who have both been imprisoned by one of these slave ships. Trip manages to escape by using her mental prowess while Monkey, uses his raw physical power to tear through his confines. Trip knows that she can not make it safely back home on her own, but believes that Monkey is her only chance to survive. She hacks into a slave headband and fits it on Monkey to link them together ? if she dies, he dies? Her journey has now become his.

Together Monkey and Trip form an unlikely, but complementary team whose respective strengths will be critical in their journey. In ENSLAVED, players take direct control of Monkey, with gameplay revolving around combat, strategy and environmental traversal. Monkey attacks and defends using his trusty staff weapon to deliver punishing melee attacks and combos, ranged stun and plasma blasts, blocks, and intense finishing takedowns. Players must survey each environment and work closely with AI partner Trip to ensure both make it through each area?s dangers and progress safely onwards. Trip provides vital support with her cerebral talents, offering Monkey invaluable intel on enemies, identifying optimal routes, upgrading Monkey?s abilities and more.

A selection of exclusive incentive items is available to customers who purchase the game from several participating retailers, ranging from downloadable content (DLC) to limited quantity retail packs that come bundled with the game and bonus item. Additional paid post-launch DLC will be available in the coming months, featuring a side story for Pigsy, the comical porcine character who helps Trip and Monkey in the main storyline. Players must have the retail game in order to access the DLC content. More details on this premium DLC will be shared in the near future.

 

 Oct 05, 2010 - 09:01 AM - by Michael
Brit ISPs want moratorium on copyright cases
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Personal Stuff/Random News British ISP's, still looking at the backlash over released email archives indicating that the prime "copyright cartel" law firm for "piracy" cases was actively engaged in fraud as well as storing the personal data of people they targeted in an unencrypted format, are asking for a moratorium on file-sharing cases.

Quoth BT's lawyers:
"We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people.

"We have not simply consented to these orders in the past, we have asked for stricter terms as public concern has risen. The data leak with ACS:Law prompted us to take further action today."
One would hope that this sort of shenanigans - shades of computerless grandmothers being threatened - would stop entirely. But that's not how the shady crooks operating these scams on behalf of the cartels behave.
 

 Sep 23, 2010 - 08:53 AM - by Michael
DMCA as an abuse tool
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Personal Stuff/Random News The spat between Zen Magnets and Buckyballs has gotten weird - Buckyballs, makers of a crappy product, have decided to abuse the DMCA to try to remove Zen's video response (now mirrored over here.

Apparently the whole thing started when Zen posted a couple of eBay auctions with a set of Zen magnets and a set of Buckyballs, asking whoever bought them to decide which was better. Buckyballs decided to get the eBay auctions taken down (how, I'm not sure, since right of first sale should mean Zen is just fine going and buying some Buckyballs from a store and then reselling them).
 

 Sep 12, 2010 - 01:42 PM - by Michael
Setting Music Free
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Personal Stuff/Random News A group dedicated to the public domain has begun raising money to hire an orchestra and record public-domain music which will immediately be released for free, in the public domain.

Why do they have to do this? Because "performances" still claim unique copyright, even if the music performed came from the public domain.

We want your help to hire an internationally renowned orchestra to record and release the rights to: the Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky symphonies. We have price quotes from several orchestras and are ready to hire one, pending the funds.

...

What about beyond 10k?
Every $1000 buys a complete set of Mozart violin sonatas, or all of Chopin's mazurkas, ballades, or nocturnes... a little money buys a LOT of music.

Where does the music go afterwards?
Thanks to generous and free hosting from ibiblio, music will remain on our website indefinitely, and we will share it with other organizations: included in Wikipedia articles, added to archive.org, and integrated with OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) laptops.
They've gone well beyond what they needed - but the more, the better!
 

 Sep 09, 2010 - 08:04 AM - by Michael
iOS 4.1 Broken Already
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Personal Stuff/Random News From the department of "well that didn't take very long", Apple got their faces slapped quickly: the release of iOS 4.1 was met by hackers releasing a jailbreak a couple hours later.

This time, they unleashed a doozy, one that operates off a vulnerability in the system's boot ROM itself.

The exploit in the boot ROM of iOS devices was first announced by iPhone Dev-Team member pod2g. It was soon confirmed by other hackers, who said that because the exploit targets such a low-level part of the operating system, Apple won't be able to stop jailbreakers without making significant hardware changes.
Will Apple give up on the closed system yet?
 

 Aug 28, 2010 - 10:20 PM - by Michael
Singularity, First Thoughts
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Personal Stuff/Random News Activision/Raven's Singularity.

First thoughts: ok, so it takes quite a while to get the story going. Even moreso when considering the number of twists and turns and "oops, why did I save that jerk again?" moments.

Once it finally gets moving? I'm quite enjoying the options. For an FPS/horror mashup, it has surprising depth. More to come as I get further in.
 

 Aug 25, 2010 - 09:18 AM - by Michael
Slow Down And Think
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over at the NY Times: scientific research indicating that people have an inherent need to unplug in order to learn.

In related news, I need to do more gardening.

The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.

Ms. Bates, for example, might be clearer-headed if she went for a run outside, away from her devices, research suggests.
 

 Aug 25, 2010 - 07:18 AM - by Michael
The New Indies
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Personal Stuff/Random News Wired takes a look at game developers who've decided to go Indie. And make some pretty kick-ass games.

But that?s not what the new crop of indies are. They?re veterans of the triple-A game biz with decades of experience behind them. They?ve worked for the biggest companies and had a hand in some of the industry?s biggest blockbusters. They could work on anything, but they?ve found creative fulfillment splitting off into a tiny crew and doing their own thing. They?re using everything they?ve learned working on big-budget epics and applying it to small, downloadable games.

The good news for gamers is that, as the industry?s top talents depart the big studios and go into business for themselves, players are being treated to a new class of indie game. They?re smaller and carry cheaper price tags, but they?re produced by industry veterans instead of thrown together by B teams and interns. Most importantly, unlike big-budget games that need to appeal to the lowest common denominator to turn a profit, these indie gems reveal the undiluted creative vision of their makers.
It'd be nice to see the trend continue, to a degree. Also nice to see the corporate pointy-haired bosses see the light and start letting the developers make the games they started out making once more, rather than trying to do everything by committee and focus group.
 

 Aug 23, 2010 - 08:13 AM - by Michael
Gamers VS Companies
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over at Tech Review, an article spotlighting the way game companies shoot themselves in the foot with crazy DRM schemes:

Esguerra says an "always-on" DRM scheme can unfairly affect those who live in rural areas and lack consistent connectivity. He adds that such DRM schemes can render a game worthless if the company behind it goes bust or decides to stop supporting that title. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, need a connection to provide integral features. But Esguerra thinks players are offended when the connection isn't essential to the game play.
That's an understatement, certainly.
 

 Aug 21, 2010 - 03:25 PM - by Michael
Star Hustler, RIP
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Personal Stuff/Random News Jack Horkheimer, PBS mainstay for kids or adults watching their station sign off for the night, has has passed away.

The show started airing locally on WPBT in Miami, then went national in 1985. Along the way his nom de television morphed from "Star Hustler" to "Star Gazer," to sidestep aggressive web-browsing filters.

The shows are distributed free, via satellite to more than 200 stations across the U.S. and to other outlets like the Armed Forces Network. You can download any of the past year's episodes as well. Since Horkheimer and longtime planetarium colleague Bill Dishong produced several episodes in advance, the last one to feature Horkheimer ? his 1,708th ? will air the first week of September and feature the Summer Triangle. As always, he begins with a chortling "Greetings, greetings, fellow stargazers and ends with his signature phrase "Keep looking up!"
One more month of shows will be finished by a colleague, and after that, the Miami Planetarium plans to see whether they want to continue the show or not. He'll be missed.
 

 Aug 18, 2010 - 07:13 AM - by Michael
ISP Lies
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ars has a story on lying ISPs: it turns out most of them are talking out an "other orifice" when stating the speed on their connections.

After crunching the data, FCC wonks have concluded that ISPs advertised an average (mean) "up to" download speed of 6.7Mbps in 2009. That's not what broadband users got, though.

"However, FCC analysis shows that the median actual speed consumers experienced in the first half of 2009 was roughly 3 Mbps, while the average (mean) actual speed was approximately 4 Mbps," says the report. "Therefore actual download speeds experienced by US consumers appear to lag advertised speeds by roughly 50 percent."
So yeah. Expect it. And hope the FCC's work on better truth-in-labeling regulations comes through.
 

 Aug 16, 2010 - 07:41 AM - by Michael
World Pinball Champ
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Personal Stuff/Random News The World Pinball Championships are over, and we have a winner. Several actually.

Classics I - Dave Hegge
Classics II - Josh Sharpe
Juniors - Justin Ortscheid
Seniors - Rick Prince
C Division - Seth Lettofsky
B Division - Joshua Henderson
A Division - Keith Elwin, RE-REPEAT WORLD PINBALL CHAMPION
Congratulations to all of them - especially Mr. Elwin.
 

 Aug 13, 2010 - 08:22 AM - by Michael
Bioshock Infinite
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Personal Stuff/Random News I put Bioshock 2 down without finishing the final chapter - it felt like the rescue was a better ending than anything that could follow.

Nevertheless, Bioshock Infinite shows some serious potential.
 

 Aug 03, 2010 - 07:25 AM - by Michael
Consoles make networks vulnerable?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Out at Defcon, a pair of hackers demonstrated a unique exploit that can theoretically use the presence of a video game console to open holes in a corporate firewall:

They also found that many companies install Nintendo Wii devices in their work places, even though they don?t let you walk into the company with smartphones or laptops. (Factories and other sensitive work locations don?t allow any devices with cameras). By poisoning the Wii, they could spread a virus over the corporate network. People have a false sense of security about the safety of these game devices, but they can log into computer networks like most other computer devices now.
It's worth noting that the console itself need not be hacked - just the game it runs. I wonder how many companies have a homebrew/copy-enabled console in the breakroom...
 

 Aug 03, 2010 - 07:20 AM - by Michael
The harm of stupid copyright law
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Personal Stuff/Random News File away another one - Namco has gone after a bunch of students learning to program.

The problem? They programmed a version of Pac-Man.

The really obnoxious part is at the end, where it says "While we appreciate the educational nature of your enterprise and look forward to the contributions of the future programmers you are training, part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others." Apparently propaganda about copyright is more important than actually teaching little Johnny how to program?
Techdirt calls it - and I couldn't say it better.
 

 Jul 30, 2010 - 07:55 AM - by Michael
VGL PBS Tour
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Personal Stuff/Random News Video Games Live have posted up the PBS broadcast schedule of this summer's concert event.

Sadly, a lot of cities are not on the list. If yours isn't - send an email to your local PBS people!
 

 Jul 26, 2010 - 10:18 AM - by Michael
RIAA Accounting
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Personal Stuff/Random News Lyle Lovett has some pretty pointed things to say about the music industry - echoing what's been said by others before.

Techdirt had a previous article over here going into detail as well.
 

 Jul 22, 2010 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
Heartless People
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Personal Stuff/Random News The management would like to point out yet another instance of "copyright law" gone ridiculously stupid.

The 10-year-old budding actress' effort to raise money for a U.K. children's hospice through a homemade video has been dealt a setback by a copyright dispute with a New York-based publishing company that owns the rights to a song from a Charlie Chaplin movie.

It all started innocently enough last year when Bethany decided to make a Chaplin-style film using money she earned as an extra on the critically acclaimed British soap opera "Emmerdale." She dressed up like the legendary silent-movie comic to star in her own video tribute.

The homemade film features Bethany singing the song "Smile," the theme from Chaplin's 1936 classic "Modern Times." (Lyrics were added to "Smile" in 1954 and it was originally sung by Nat King Cole.) The video was posted on the JustGiving website to raise money for Martin House, a children's hospice in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England.
If anyone asks - Bourne Music Publishing are a bunch of heartless dicks. Feel free to write them emails reminding them so.
 

 Jul 20, 2010 - 07:47 AM - by Michael
The Return
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Personal Stuff/Random News Back from a long, long conventiongoing weekend. So many fun times, so much good food in the City of New Orleans.

Back here at HQ - Castle Crashers has survived two (maybe 3?) major updates, which radically changed how the game was played. Survey says... most of the changes were good (bugfixes and exploit-kills), some not so great (inability to hold an "air-juggle" as long making certain character builds less viable).

Transformers: War for Cybertron. Nice idea for a game, and I can see how it may work for the online portion, but I'm less than enthusiastic about the storyline missions and maps. They're so visually busy that finding item drops, and sometimes even enemies, is next to impossible. Also, the fact that co-op mode requires each person to have their own console? BOO.
 

 Jul 13, 2010 - 01:01 PM - by Michael
MafiAA Accounting
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Personal Stuff/Random News Techdirt takes on how the RIAA members defraud musicians, in an ongoing series that previously showed how movie theaters fraudulently claim to lose money on even the most powerful summer blockbusters.

Of course, it's actually even more ridiculous than this report makes it out to be. Going back ten years ago, Courtney Love famously laid out the details of recording economics, where the label can make $11 million... and the actual artists make absolutely nothing. It starts off with a band getting a massive $1 million advance, and then you follow the money:
Read all the way through, to understand why the music industry is so messed up.
 

 Jul 09, 2010 - 07:41 AM - by Michael
Free Game Time!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ultima VI's fan-done remake has been officially released!

Enjoy the free game and have fun!
 

 Jul 08, 2010 - 09:32 AM - by Michael
We can rebuild him...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Behold the bionic cat. One day, we may be doing this sort of thing for humans.

Documentary video available on Youtube.
 

 Jul 07, 2010 - 07:34 AM - by Michael
Messed up: "Kookaburra" copyright
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Personal Stuff/Random News The band Men At Work have been ordered to pay a slice of royalties from their song "Down Under". The reason? A very small portion used a flute bit from a 1934 song. The author's long since dead, but in Australia's crazy, bizarre *IAA bought-off copyright laws, a megacorporation sucking up "copyrights" won in court trolling over a tiny snippet of the song.

Yep. Copyright is messy. And overly burdensome these days.
 

 Jul 07, 2010 - 07:30 AM - by Michael
Nature = Health?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one for you - apparently getting out into nature significantly increases immune function.

Stress reduction is one factor. But scientists also chalk it up to phytoncides, the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects and which also seem to benefit humans.

One study published in January included data on 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ?Shinrin-yoku,? or ?forest bathing.? On one day, some people were instructed to walk through a forest or wooded area for a few hours, while others walked through a city area. On the second day, they traded places. The scientists found that being among plants produced ?lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,? among other things.
In other words: go for a walk in the park. You'll be happier and healthier.
 

 Jul 07, 2010 - 07:23 AM - by Michael
An odd interview
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Personal Stuff/Random News Cliff Bleszinski says shooters are the next evolution of RPGs. I'm not sure I believe it.

Sure, Deus Ex's rpg mechanics made the game awesome, and the Call of Duty keeps sticking in more RPG-like mechanics. On the other hand, there's something different about a shooter. In a true RPG, it's 90% the skill of the character, the stats, that make the difference - the rest is 10% planning on the player's part. In a shooter/rpg, more like 70% of the game is simply the player's twitch reflex.

Oh, he also tries to defend Gears of War. Ouch.

It depends on where things go. I mean, one could wean that from the comments I made earlier about the future of shooters is RPGs and see where things are going with us.

But, I mean, I love the jokes about Gears of War not being an innovative game. Suddenly everyone has cover, everyone has roadie-run, everyone has integrated story-based co-op.

And it always amuses me that the Gears games get criticism for their narrative. We never said we were making Shakespeare; this is a Michael Bay Film, go with it.
Hey, uh, Cliffy? We hate Michael Bay films. Especially what he did to Transformers.
 

 Jul 02, 2010 - 08:09 AM - by Michael
Ebert Fesses Up
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Personal Stuff/Random News Remember when Roger Ebert said video games "couldn't be" art? He now admits he was talking out his posterior.

See, he's never played one. Any game. At all.

Who was I to say video games didn't have the potential of becoming Art? Someday? There was no agreement among the thousands of posters about even one current game that was an unassailable masterpiece. Shadow of the Colossus came closest. I suppose that's the one I should begin with.

But many other games were also mentioned. If I didn't admire a game, I would be told I played the wrong one. Consider what happened when I responded to the urging of a reader and watched Kellee Santiago's TED talk. It would finally convince me, I was promised, of the art of video games. I watched it. But noooo. Readers told me I had viewed the wrong talk about the wrong games. Besides, arguing with a You Tube video was pointless if I had never played a game.
Sadly, Old Fogie Ebert still to this day refuses to play one. Which means he'll never get it. Then again, as anyone who's ever seen his terrible and off-base movie reviews should know, he doesn't get art in any form.
 

 Jun 30, 2010 - 08:07 AM - by Michael
Alien planet photographed
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Personal Stuff/Random News The very first alien planet - a planet in another solar system - has been photographed directly rather than merely detected by measurement of its sun's orbit.

If you zoom in really, REALLY close, you can see a bunch of aliens holding up signs saying "Hi Mom."

The host star, which has an estimated mass of about 85 percent that of our sun, is located approximately 500 light-years away in a group of young stars called the Upper Scorpius Association that formed about 5 million years ago.

The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,500 degrees Celsius). This makes the planet much hotter than Jupiter, which has an atmospheric cloud-top temperature of approximately minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 110 degrees Celsius).
 

 Jun 29, 2010 - 09:44 AM - by Michael
Mathematically Confusing
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Personal Stuff/Random News Check out a problem to contemplate on a Tuesday.

If you dare.

Gardner himself tripped up on his simpler Two Children Problem. Initially, he gave the answer as 1/3, but he later realized that the problem is ambiguous in the same way that Peres argues that the Tuesday Birthday Problem is. Suppose that you already knew that Mr. Smith had two children, and then you meet him on the street with a boy he introduces as his son. In that case, the probability the other child is a son would be 1/2, just as intuition suggests. On the other hand, suppose that you are looking for a male beagle puppy. You want a puppy that has been raised with a sibling for good socialization but you are afraid it will be hard to select just a single puppy from a large litter. So you find a breeder who has exactly two pups and call to confirm that at least one is male. Then the probability that the other is male is 1/3.
 

 Jun 24, 2010 - 07:56 AM - by Michael
This is a bit much.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Go ahead, Click that little soccer ball. YouTube dares you to.
 

 Jun 22, 2010 - 10:51 AM - by Michael
Saving Gaming History
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ars covers people who are trying to ensure that past video games remain playable.

It's much, much harder than one thinks.

JM: The really simple, one-sentence answer is because games are important. In the United States we're looking at about 80,000 people who are directly employed by the gaming industry and maybe another 240,000 people involved in related, tangential industries that rely on gaming companies for their existence. So just as a monetary phenomenon, games are important. You probably saw the sales for Modern Warfare? We're talking a single game that realized over a billion dollars in sales. Sort of shows on a monetary level the importance that games have taken within our economy.

This has certainly made librarians take note of games, but also they've become important culturally. There's a long history of wanting to say "popular culture is lower culture and therefore we should not be preserving it." For all of us in our project, we're rejecting that point of view. Popular culture is the most important culture we need to preserve. It shows what people were actually interested in and what they were doing.
Read the whole article - this stuff is important.
 

 Jun 14, 2010 - 06:03 PM - by Michael
'World's Worst Director' Sues...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Uwe Boll, not content with simply destroying franchises and being completely incapable of making a good movie, has found a new way to scam money besides exploiting German tax loopholes: he's signing on to mafia-like lawsuit mills.

Any more commentary is probably unnecessary, but what the hey - we're talking about the man many have called the "World's Worst Director" here!

"Like a modern-day Ed Wood, or a poor man's Michael Bay," the story continued, "Boll appears competent in every aspect of filmmaking except the actual making of the film. His movies are haphazardly scripted, sloppily edited, badly acted and, most crucially, brutally received. Out of 350,000-plus films rated by users of the encyclopedic movie site Internet Movie Database, Boll's three game flicks all rank in the bottom 100. Critics, especially the legion of armchair Eberts who post scathing reviews on the Web, have made a sport out of beating up the director."
What I wouldn't give to get 100 people who were forced to endure one of his movies, and him, locked together in a warehouse with a bunch of paintball guns...
 

 Jun 14, 2010 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
Dueling Videos
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Personal Stuff/Random News I wonder if we could hook both directors up to a polygraph?

On one side, the NSA defends the Polygraph.

On the other, these people disagree.

Fair warning: the NSA's video is in Flash with no fast-forward/rewind/pause controls, which is pretty lame.
 

 Jun 14, 2010 - 08:09 AM - by Michael
Ads are creepy?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one - highly visible, "content-aware" ads are downright creepy.

It took a "study" to tell this?
 

 Jun 09, 2010 - 08:11 AM - by Michael
Violence: Another Study
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Personal Stuff/Random News Yet another set of studies on video game violence, and the APA tries to collate the data, this time on the "no problem" side: most people aren't affected, except for the people who'd be adversely affected by other "violent" entertainment anyways?

?Much of the attention to video game research has been negative, focusing on potential harm related to addiction, aggression and lowered school performance,? said Christopher J. Ferguson, PhD, of Texas A&M International University and guest editor of the issue. ?Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests. Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so often feared.?

In contrast, one study in the special issue shows that video game violence can increase aggression in some individuals, depending on their personalities.
So in other words... parents, do some parenting. Please. If your kid is having troubles, maybe consider taking the games away, but if not, then no big deal.
 

 Jun 04, 2010 - 07:49 AM - by Michael
VGL National Broadcast Coming
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Personal Stuff/Random News Video Games Live have put up a trailer for their PBS special later this year, and there's a sneak-peek coming as well:

LOS ANGELES, CA ? JUNE 4, 2010 ? Video Games Live is proud to announce an absolutely unprecedented line-up of the world?s most beloved video game franchises coming together for the first time in history to celebrate gaming culture and the incredible music surrounding it. A 90-minute Video Games Live special, consisting of never before televised live musical performances from the Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Halo, Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, God of War, Civilization, Chrono Cross, StarCraft and Guitar Hero franchises, including a musical journey through Classic Gaming, will make its national premiere on July 31 and air throughout August 2010 on PBS stations (check local listings). The CD and DVD/Blu-Ray release will coincide with the nationally televised special and will be available in North America exclusively through PBS until November 1, 2010. The CD features16 musical performances and the DVD/Blu-Ray includes over three hours of bonus material, including additional and extended music segments, composer and game developer interviews, exclusive game trailers, ?making the game? documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and composer commentary.

?I?m hoping that this project will have a very positive impact on the perception of video games by the non-gaming world,? said veteran video game composer and Video Games Live CEO/Executive Producer Tommy Tallarico. ?The reason we created Video Games Live over eight years ago was to prove to the world how culturally significant and artistic video games have become. The goal was to create a show for everyone whether they play games or not. The fact that all of the game publishers have come on board with this project to help our mission says a lot about the future of gaming and how much they believe in Video Games Live.?

Today PBS released a four-minute promotional trailer featuring nine brief segments from the upcoming special. The trailer can be viewed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzHLeDBKprA

As an exclusive sneak peek, viewers in the Bay Area and Northern California will be able to experience the Video Games Live PBS Special almost two full months in advance. PBS station KQED Public Television 9 will be debuting the Video Games Live special in its entirety on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 7:30pm and Tuesday, June 8th at 1:30am. Video Games Live encourages people to e-mail, call or write their local PBS stations to ensure the broadcast will be available in your market.

More information can be found on the KQED website which includes a function to set up an e-mail reminder about the show.

http://www.kqed.org/tv/programs/index.jsp?pgmid=19192
 

 Jun 04, 2010 - 07:30 AM - by Michael
AT&T, redux
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's no other way to put it: AT&T royally stepped in it on this one.

The guy's posting of the voicemail is over here. It's quite revealing of how AT&T treats customers with lousy service - PR bullshit backpedaling notwithstanding.
 

 Jun 02, 2010 - 08:04 AM - by Michael
The Great iPhone Bait-And-Switch
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Personal Stuff/Random News Apple/AT&T have taken the iPhone and pulled a classic bait-and-switch operation.

Yes, the iPhone's gaining "tethering" function - the ability to hook in and work as a data unit for a laptop - for $20 a month. However, in exchange, the "revolutionary" unlimited data plan Steve Jobs was so proud of at the iPhone's launch will be cut off entirely.

Customer outrage is already building.
 

 May 29, 2010 - 09:29 AM - by Michael
Memorial Day Weekend
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Personal Stuff/Random News It is Memorial Day Weekend. Enjoy the day folks, and if you're in the US, please do go to one of your local events honoring our brave service-men and women.
 

 May 13, 2010 - 07:04 AM - by Michael
Sony vs Air Force
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Personal Stuff/Random News While a bombing run would be appropriate... it turns out Sony's removal of "Other OS" has caused a problem for the US Air Force. Seems they bought some PS3's for supercomputing research and, well... they can't replace any failed units with newer ones.

We checked in with the Air Force Research Laboratory, which noted its disappointment with the Sony decision. "We will have to continue to use the systems we already have in hand," the lab told Ars, but "this will make it difficult to replace systems that break or fail. The refurbished PS3s also have the problem that when they come back from Sony, they have the firmware (gameOS) and it will not allow Other OS, which seems wrong. We are aware of class-action lawsuits against Sony for taking away this option on systems that use to have it."
I would SO love to see the Air Force join the class-action lawsuits.
 

 May 11, 2010 - 12:01 PM - by Michael
Scroogle blocked by Google
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Personal Stuff/Random News Scroogle - an interface to anonymously search via Google - appears to be down for a while; either they find a new way to access, or Google allows them back in, or they go down for good.

That interface was at www.google.com/ie but on May 10, 2010 they took it down and inserted a redirect to /toolbar/ie8/sidebar.html. It used to have a search box, and the results it showed were generic during that entire time. It didn't show the snippets unless you moused-over the links it produced (they were there for our program, so that was okay), and it has never had any ads. Our impression was that these results were from Google's basic algorithms, and that extra features and ads were added on top of these generic results. Three years ago Google launched "Universal Search," which meant that they added results from other Google services on their pages. But this simple interface we were using was not affected at all.

Now that interface is gone. It is not possible to continue Scroogle unless we have a simple interface that is stable. Google's main consumer-oriented interface that they want everyone to use is too complex, and changes too frequently, to make our scraping operation possible.

Over the next few days we will attempt to contact Google and determine whether the old interface is gone as a matter of policy at Google, or if they simply have it hidden somewhere and will tell us where it is so that we can continue to use it.
Here's hoping Google decides to play nice again.
 

 May 10, 2010 - 07:46 AM - by Michael
Iron Man 2 - Minireview
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Personal Stuff/Random News Go to see Iron Man 2. It's not as good as the first, but it's good enough to be worth the price of admission.

Longer version:
Decent scenes. A bit too busy on overlapping plots. And a director who definitely has a bit of trouble pulling off true, action-ey, fun comic-book style brawling.
 

 May 06, 2010 - 07:10 AM - by Michael
Piracy? Yarr.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Wolfire Blog looks at an alternate idea - perhaps the doom-and-gloom "numbers" responsible for draconian DRM are really just hot air? Or at the least, a tad overblown?

While many game developers blame piracy for their decreasing PC game sales, it is clear that this is not the problem -- relatively few gamers are pirates, and those that are would mostly not be able to afford games anyway.

However, it's easier for these developers to point their fingers at pirates than to face the real problem: that their games are not fun on PC. The games in question are usually designed for consoles, with the desktop port as an afterthought. This means they are not fun to play with a mouse and keyboard, and don't work well on PC hardware. Their field of view is designed to be viewed from a distant couch instead of a nearby monitor, and their gameplay is simplified to compensate for this tunnel vision.
Harsh but true...
 

 May 05, 2010 - 02:51 PM - by Michael
Going a bit far...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Apparently some brits dealing with Apple have to go to extraordinary lengths to get certain things to work...

Attacking a poor little SIM card to get it to fit into the iPhone's microSIM slot. Brutal.
 

 May 05, 2010 - 08:35 AM - by Michael
Are games too big?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Gamepro says maybe game makers are trying to do too much:

The thing is, we're not playing it wrong. What's happening is that studios are starting to look at the way they make games and concede that they're making them wrong. The vast majority of releases, even the most spectacular and successful, adhere to structural conventions that date back 20 years. As an audience we're getting bored of that, if we're honest. Right?
Hmmm. Food for next week's Musings, perhaps.
 

 May 04, 2010 - 12:10 PM - by Michael
New Musings
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Personal Stuff/Random News Time for a new Musings column: NY News Today's op-ed about PC Gaming, and "Oh, shuddup. PC gaming isn?t going anywhere." - well, perhaps that isn't quite the case.

PC Gaming of the past, true, is seeing a resurgence. The larger problem for today is that as much as one wants to say otherwise, PC Gaming is on life support; most game makers these days are console-centric, and with the exception of maybe one or two development houses, the best gamers can hope for from some pretty legendary PC game lines in the future may be ports of bad console iterations.
 

 May 04, 2010 - 10:36 AM - by Michael
PC Gaming in trouble?
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Personal Stuff/Random News An op-ed on why PC gaming isn't as dead as you think - you just might not recognize it any more:

First, PC gamers? values are changing ? the audience is moving away from graphics-hungry teenagers and into a breed that?s more prepared to judge a game on its less superficial merits. In short, a game consisting of 320?240 pixels, each the size of a baby?s fist, no longer causes quite so many people to scoff dismissively at it. Secondly, digital distribution services ? notably Valve?s Steam and the great-in-the-States-but-crap-over-here Gametap ? are gradually adding classic games to their online stores ? legal, free from floppy disks, and dirt-cheap. A slight spot of whimsy and a few dollars is all it takes to enjoy yesterday?s finest.

While it?s early days for this, things can only get better. On Steam alone, the last few months have seen the rediscovery of ancient treasures such as the earliest Wolfenstein, Unreal, Doom and GTA games. The past is indeed another country ? but, when it comes to old PC games, lately we?re talking more Isle of Man than North Korea.
There's no doubt that the subscription services have helped a lot of gamers get older titles running on modern hardware. But it's still nice to occasionally say "yes, I have the original copy of that game..."
 

 May 04, 2010 - 10:22 AM - by Michael
Extra Extra Read All About it
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Personal Stuff/Random News No pinball wizard, no deaf/dumb/blind kid in a miracle cure... but a genetically engineered virus has resulted in a cure for a certain type of congenital blindness.

Hooray for medical science!
 

 May 04, 2010 - 10:17 AM - by Michael
Hollywood and Computers
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Personal Stuff/Random News Hollywood is a bit weird when it comes to computers:

In Star Trek, Kirk need only ask an alien computer to "Explain. The. Human emotion. Known. As.....Love", for it to go into a bizarre loop where its logical systems can't computer and it explodes. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (one of the worst films ever made), the destruction of the main ship causes the droid army to lose its control signal and fail - one of them even has his head fall off. Quite why you'd ever build this feature into your army of destruction is beyond us.
Because it's funny of course...
 

 Apr 29, 2010 - 03:34 PM - by Michael
Wait, I know those names...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Tycho and Gabe are going to be absolutely, completely insufferable for the next few weeks.

But it's well deserved. Good show, guys.

Now get to work on Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode Three already!
 

 Apr 29, 2010 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
Street Fighter History
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Personal Stuff/Random News OC Weekly looks at some old tidbits from Street Fighter II lore:

Dee Jay, Super Street Fighter II's Jamaican kick boxer, was originally designed to have pants that read "MANTIS" down the side of his leg. However, the words would not have looked right when his sprite was mirrored to face the opposite direction.

The game designers changed the word to the vertically symmetric "MAXIMUM," so it can be spelled correctly facing either direction.

Think "MAXIMUM" is cheesy? Other options for his pants could have been "YUMMY", "WAX MOUTH", or "HI WHY AM I A MOM".
Don't worry, the article's actually entertaining.
 

 Apr 29, 2010 - 08:15 AM - by Michael
Bungie signs soul away... again.
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Personal Stuff/Random News Bungie, after becoming independent from Microsoft, has turned around and sold their souls to Activision for 10 years.

Sad, but true.

Activision will broaden its portfolio with a new franchise from one of the industry's most creative, successful and proven studios, whose games have sold more than 25 million units worldwide. To date, Bungie's Halo games have generated approximately $1.5 billion in revenues, according to The NPD Group, Charttrack and GfK. Activision expects this agreement to be accretive to its operating margins as of the release of the first game.

"We chose to partner with Activision on our next IP because of their global reach, multi-platform experience and marketing expertise," said Harold Ryan, President of Bungie. "From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences."
I worry for this, given Activision's habit of running franchises into the ground with crappy, too-quickly-made sequels.
 

 Apr 28, 2010 - 01:39 PM - by Michael
Cub Scout Gaming Pin
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Personal Stuff/Random News So the Cub Scouts are implementing a video gaming pin.

Some of the media are going nuts about it.

Personally, after reading the requirements? It's not that bad. Knowing why there's a rating system? Good thought. Teaching the kids to keep games to only part of their schedule, rather than as an all-day veg-out? Good. Involving the parent to select the game the kids play? Good.

For the pin? Hey, cool. Learn good sportsmanship in a tournament environment. Help others with tips on how to play the game, and teach someone how to play a game. Compare different systems with your parent and decide which is right for a kid to be playing? Right on.

We need more parental involvement with kids and video games. I call this a good idea.
 

 Apr 27, 2010 - 12:22 PM - by Michael
Congrats, Comcr~~
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Personal Stuff/Random News The Consumerist has named Comcast the "Worst Company In America" and awarded them the un-coveted Golden Poo award.

One wonders if they'll put it up on their website along with the various outdated/meaningless/self-awarded "awards" they use in their advertising gimmicks.

In a three-day, knock-down, drag-out bout with Ticket "Apollo Creed" Master, the little cable company that could showed just how badly their horrendous service, exorbitant costs, throttled internet and plans to acquire NBC Universal have ticked the Consumerist readers.

All that remains is for the Golden Poo to be delivered to Comcast HQ in the City of Brotherly Love. We fully expect them to set it in a place of honor in the lobby, where all guests can see it.
Fans have suggested Ticketmaster be granted the "golden shower" for being in second place. Ewww.
 

 Apr 26, 2010 - 12:35 PM - by Michael
Massive number of blogs hacked
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Personal Stuff/Random News If you host a Wordpress blog on Godaddy, beware: there's a good chance you got hacked this weekend.

Uglier still, it's a "referrer-based" setup, so you might not even know you're hacked unless you follow a Google link to your blog. Follow the steps in the story to check if you're safe...
 

 Apr 26, 2010 - 07:44 AM - by Michael
Disappointing Games
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Personal Stuff/Random News We remember the good - and sometimes also the bad or disappointing. Damn Lag talks about the most disappointing, overhyped titles of the current game generation:

Ah, Red Steel. Back when the Wii was coming out and hyped up as hell as having crazy-good 1:1 controls and whatnot offering great swordplay and gunplay. Then people actually played Red Steel and realized it was stupid, unresponsive waggling mixed with incredibly retarded AI. Oh, and it looked absolutely horrible graphically. It makes me wonder now if they even tried back then. The game was just so incredibly disappointing since it could have had so much potential as Wii launch game.
With FF13 and Spore top on the list, there we go - reasons gamers may be a tad burned out.
 

 Apr 26, 2010 - 07:40 AM - by Michael
Awesome Camera Trick
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Personal Stuff/Random News This one's pure awesome - an old camera line brought back to life just by slapping on a digital backing:



The CFV-39 digital back allows you to get those cameras out from the last century and use the V-System cameras with their beautiful glass once again, it simply fits in place of where the roll film used to be. Hasselblads have never been inexpensive, but talk about a return on investment. Here?s a manufacturer looking after a fiercely loyal user-base and along with it offering what could be seen as the ultimate green camera system. You can check out a list of supported cameras here.

Nowadays, Hasselblad makes a modern auto focusing digital system; the H3 and now the H4D which boast up to 60Mp in several models. This bridge product only has 39Mp but boy that is enough of a shock when coming from 35mm-based sensors. It is 50 per cent bigger than the size of full-frame 35mm systems. The sheer definition is stunning.
If I had one of those around, man would I be looking into this...
 

 Apr 24, 2010 - 01:11 PM - by Michael
Please Return Items to i am 8bit
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Personal Stuff/Random News Jon at i am 8bit has some sad news: while they were holding a great launch party out in Glendale, CA for Super Street Fighter IV, at the end of the night someone stole the equipment containing all the shot footage.

That's right - an entire night's footage, gone. Interviews, crowd footage, events, documentary footage, everything.

If you know anything, please, PLEASE send Jon an email.

His plea to the gaming community is below. It's a sad day when something like this happens.

Dear Street Fighters,

Last night, we launched Super Street Fighter IV in Los Angeles with another Capcom Fight Club.

It rocked!

In tandem with the great folks at Capcom, the party went off with an explosive bang. Hundreds waited in line since 9am (the doors opened at 8pm), and ultimately, nearly 2,000 people showed up to get their hands on the game early. Unfortunately, the massive warehouse space that played host to the club wasn't big enough to accomodate everyone, so our apologies to any fans that didn't get in.

And, wow - who thought so many gamers would be willing to lube up and Turkish Oil Wrestle? They did... and it was a sight to behold!

However, I digress...

Right before the event ended, at about 11:30pm, someone stole several pieces of production equipment from us:

* Mac Book Pro
* Two (2) Kodak zi8 HD cameras
* Lots of SD cards

We could care less about the equipment itself. It's the FOOTAGE THAT MATTERS.

For the entire night, that Mac Book Pro, along with those SD cards, stored hours of footage from the event. It was really great stuff that is now gone because someone decided to take the shiny objects.

We were helping to complete a documentary for Japanese television about Daigo, who was flown into town specifically to compete at the fight club.

On that laptop and those cameras was valuable footage that immortalized the player.

Also, there was literally tons of other great interviews, cosplaying, and fan-focused stuff that we were going to cut together this weekend to share with the whole community.

Sadly, it is gone.

We are prepared to offer a cash reward if that footage is returned to us. We don't care who stole it, we just want it back. We will NOT drag anyone through the mud; your identity will be kept secret. We can promise you that.

Just please, come forward. We can arrange for a drop point somewhere in Los Angeles.

Seriously, this footage meant the world to us. It was important to Daigo. It was important to Capcom.

We produce these kinds of events for the fans, and for the evidence of such a night to be ripped out from under us - well, it hurts.

It really hurts.

If anyone knows anything, please e-mail me directly. Your name will be kept anonymous. We are not out to get anyway.

Any and all leads would be immensely appreciated.

We will pay. Cash.

Thank you!

Jon M. Gibson, Founder
i am 8-bit Productions
 

 Apr 22, 2010 - 12:42 PM - by Michael
When Copyright Goes Bad
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Personal Stuff/Random News BoingBoing has a great documentary regarding the problems with current copyright law that you should see. It's only 15 minutes. Go for it.
 

 Apr 22, 2010 - 12:32 PM - by Michael
Time to offline your PS3?
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Personal Stuff/Random News After bricking a load of PS3's with a faulty firmware set a while back, Sony's pulled another dastardly trick - hidden in the new firmware's "click ok" updated terms of use is a provision letting them force further updates without your permission.

Time to yank the network cord out or deactivate your PS3's wireless connection?

What particularly caught our beady eye is the sentence "Some services may be provided automatically without notice when you are online" which basically means that Sony can do whatever the hell it wants to do to the content of your PS3 without notifying you or asking your permission.

At this juncture it's important to point out that we have no way of checking if this clause was included in previous version of the EULA. Our extensive online searches have failed to come up with the text of anything before version 1.3, the current version being 1.4. But that's hardly the point.

The point is that Sony forces users to sign an agreement which allows you to use a piece of hardware which you have paid for, but allows Sony to make any changes they see fit to the way the console operates without notification or permission.
Ouch. Chances are, my PS3 gets the network cord pulled as of tonight.
 

 Apr 22, 2010 - 06:37 AM - by Michael
Free Game!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Not only that, but a really kick-ass game too.

Yes, that's right. The FREE release of Mechwarrior 4, to be distributed by Mektek, has now been cleared.

Some of the people we'd like to thank, to name a few, are those reporting gaming news such as Joystiq, Bluesnews, BigDownload, Fragland, Gamespy, IGN, Shacknews, and Slashdot. We'd also like to thank all major gaming forums for keeping this topic in discussion and not letting people forget about the promise of a Mechwarrior free release. Of course, we'd like to thank our partners for pressing Microsoft to allow for the release of Mechwarrior to the community including Smith and Tinker, INC., Virtual World Entertainment, LLC., and Catalyst Game Labs. And finally we'd like to thank our community and the Mechwarrior fans for standing behind MekTek when things appeared to be at their worst. Thank you for your continued support. Please stay tuned for the release launch!
Oh, we will, we will...
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 01:22 PM - by Michael
Mcafee goofs
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Personal Stuff/Random News Today's update from McAfee is quarantining svchost.exe on WinXP boxes, causing an endless reboot cycle.

Ouch.

Be careful updating; word is there will be a fix "soon." Affected machines are stuck with sneakernet fixes, alas.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 12:33 PM - by Michael
Boobs In Black
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sadly, this is the level of tech savvy of the US Supreme Court. No wonder they fear cameras and completely messed up rulings related to copyright law.

According to the story, the first sign of trouble came was about midway through the argument, when Chief Justice John Roberts asked what the difference was ?between email and a pager?? (Cue sound of hard slap against forehead.)

At another point, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked what would happen if a text message was sent to an officer at the same time he was sending one to someone else.

?Does it say: ?Your call is important to us, and we will get back to you??? Kennedy asked. (Cue sound of louder slap against forehead.)
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
It's Coming...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Kotaku has word on Marvel vs Capcom 3: this should by interesting.

Chris Baker, the manager of licensed games at Marvel Studios, said he was astounded to see the concept art for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and said that in action it's just as amazing, calling the title a "beautiful, beautiful game."

Baker pointed out that Wolverine's look in the game hearkens back to the classic look of the beloved character. Iron Man, on the other hand, fits his contemporary look and The Hulk has a new visual style.

The shaders used on each character, Capcom's Seth Killian said, are what really make all of the characters so visually distinct in motion. Even Capcom's Ryu, he pointed out, is brought out in a new way with the help of the shaders.
Fingers crossed, hoping this one comes out well... it's been too long since they gave us a good, fun beat-em-up fighting game. Street Fighter IV was mediocre at best and obviously had way too much SNK influence.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 08:30 AM - by Michael
Youtube going too far?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Youtube's done a mass takedown of scenes parodying the 2004 indy movie "Downfall" - specifically, the "Hiter finds out..." scenes.

Some of these were darn funny, too.

The EFF's speaking out against it, but who knows how it'll end up. One video targeted has been Brad Templeton's take with Hitler issuing DMCA notices all over the place, which was a truly hilarious parody.

The distributor of the film apparently doesn't have the sense of humor that the parodies invoke. According to the EFF, the film's distributor, Constantin Film, is using YouTube's automated Content ID system to remove many of the the parodies. This method basically takes a Gatling gun to YouTube, and fires blindly at anything resembling an unauthorized work - including parodies. From the EFF:

"In a depressing twist, these remixes are reportedly disappearing from YouTube, thanks to Constantin Film (the movie?s producer and distributor) and YouTube?s censorship-friendly automated filtering system, Content I.D. Because the Content I.D. filter permits a copyright owner to disable any video that contains its copyrighted content -- whether or not that video contains other elements that make the use a noninfringing fair use -- a content owner can take down a broad swath of fair uses with the flick of a switch. It seems that?s exactly what Constantin Film has chosen to do."
David Weinberger has a column up on how Youtube's "content identification" system really works (or in many cases, doesn't work) as well.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 08:08 AM - by Michael
Nimoy Retires
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Personal Stuff/Random News Leonard Nimoy says he is officially done portraying "Spock":

But this time, says the 79-year-old actor-director-photographer, there are no more possibilities. Spock, his pointy-eared alter-ego, will live long and prosper. But it will be without Nimoy.

?I want to get off the stage. Also, I don?t think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto,? he says, referring to the actor who portrayed a youthful Spock in last summer?s smash Star Trek relaunch. ?He?s a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it?s time to give him some space. And I?m very flattered the character will continue.?
He gave multiple generations something to admire and enjoy - and we thank him for it.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 08:04 AM - by Michael
Natal Silliness
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Personal Stuff/Random News GamesRadar says everyone will do a few silly things to Natal when they first play with it.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Steve Jobs on Porn
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Personal Stuff/Random News Steve Jobs has decided that Apple doesn't like porn.

Perhaps he hasn't heard that that's what the internet is about.

Jobs' take? "Fiore's app will be in the store shortly. That was a mistake. However, we do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy and (sic) Android phone."

My guess is, they probably will.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 07:38 AM - by Michael
Paging Roger Ebert: You're Irrelevant
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Personal Stuff/Random News Kellee Santiago has an amazingly incisive retort to Roger Ebert's earlier, bizarre column about how video games "will never" be art:

But the final nail on this argument's coffin is the point that many, many of the hundreds of commenters have already made ? it doesn't seem that Ebert has played many, if any video games. And if that's the case, then his opinion on the subject isn't relevant anyways. The title of my talk was "Video Games are Art ? What's Next" because I felt it was time to move past the discussion about whether games are an artistic medium.. Similarly, it's time to move on from any need to be validated by old media enthusiasts. It's good for dinner-party discussion and entertaining as an intellectual exercise, but it's just not a serious debate anymore. As a rapidly growing medium, we game developers have so many other issues deserving of our attention.
On with the games!
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 07:27 AM - by Michael
Tasty Hobbits
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Personal Stuff/Random News Warner Bros. has gobbled up Turbine:

"The developers they're buying are first-rate." said Michael Pachter, game industry research analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "It's showing they're really interested in quality."

Acquiring Turbine will give Warner Bros. total control over all future video games based on author J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Lord of the Rings novels. Turbine holds an exclusive license to make an Internet-based game based on the books, while last year, Warner Bros. won a license to make non-Internet-based Tolkien video games.
I personally wouldn't go that far in describing Turbine, who've been pretty abysmal in the MMORPG market, but hey, whatever works - the second paragraph does make it seem that what they really wanted was the LOTR Online license.
 

 Apr 21, 2010 - 07:16 AM - by Michael
The Great Escapist Banhammer
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Personal Stuff/Random News Over at the Escapist, there's been a mass-banning of users for mentioning Adblock software:

The thread in question started after a user complained that an add for Time Warner Cable was slowing down his computer. Apparently, users who responded to the poster by suggesting the user "get Firefox and AdBlock" found themselves banned from the forums. Users didn't even need to admit they even used AdBlock to get banned -- they simply had to recommend it as a solution to a seemingly-annoying ad. Looking at the forums recently amended posting guidelines does confirm that the folks at the Escapist believe that giving browsing preference advice is a "non forgivable" offense:

Do not confess, teach, admit to, or promote ad-blocking software that will allow users to block the ads of this site.
Apparently they were serious... and insane. A proper response would have been to get Time Warner to stop using effed-up ads that can cause scripting headaches for certain browsers. They eventually recanted and just tried to make everyone feel really bad, but this kind of misbehavior will taint the Escapist for a long while to come.
 

 Apr 20, 2010 - 07:36 AM - by Michael
Roger Ebert is a Jerk and an idiot
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ebert says that games "can never be art":

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool's errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say "never," because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.
Given that I already have experienced the medium as a definite art form, I release the following counterstatement: Roger Ebert needs to stop being an elitist douchebag and go play a game (yes, GAME) like ICO or Shadow of the Colossus.
 

 Apr 19, 2010 - 01:09 PM - by Michael
RIP, Carl Macek
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Personal Stuff/Random News The man who brought Robotech to America has passed on.

So sad...

Carl later went on to found Streamline Pictures, which was known for releasing major anime titles such as Akira. He was also directly involved in the first English adaptations of many of Hayao Miyazake's classics such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro. Recently, Carl had worked on the adaptation of many of the episodes of the hit anime series Bleach. Outside of anime, Carl had also written many books, from The Art of Heavy Metal to the novel War Eagles, an epic adventure which he also adapted into a screenplay for a film in development.
 

 Apr 15, 2010 - 11:22 AM - by Michael
They Own Souls
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Personal Stuff/Random News A games store line in the UK has managed to pull off a fast one to highlight how few people read contracts: they apparently now are the owners of a large number of immortal souls.

The "Immortal Soul Clause" was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. GameStation claims that 88 percent of customers did not read the clause, which gives legal ownership of the customer's soul over to the UK-based games retailer.

The remaining 12 percent of customers however did notice the clause and clicked the relevant opt-out box, netting themselves a ?5 GBP gift voucher in the process.
Yes, it was an April 1st joke... but the point is perhaps that click-through agreements and legalese need to be cut down.
 

 Apr 05, 2010 - 01:37 PM - by Michael
Classic Kids' Books Suck?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Salon takes a look at certain classic kids' books that Amazon reviewers love to hate:

Then there are the reviews that I'm drawn to somewhat masochistically, those that give one-star ratings to a work that has moved me inexpressibly or influenced me indelibly. I thought it might be fun (well, depending on what your definition of "fun" is) to see what some of those one-star folks had to say about a few of my favorite books, as well as some of the books that appeared on others' lists.
I find myself agreeing with some of these reviews - certain books (Bridge to Terabithia, anyone?) are given way more credit than they are due.
 

 Apr 02, 2010 - 09:15 AM - by Michael
We Dig Giant Robots!
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Personal Stuff/Random News Viz Cinema, in the New People building in San Fran, is putting on a major Giant-Robot event in April:

San Francisco, CA, April 2, 2010 ? VIZ Cinema is pleased to offer a fun-packed weekend of anime as it welcomes Patrick Macias, Editor-in-Chief of OTAKU USA, on Friday April 9th for the latest in his ongoing series of TokyoScope Talks on Japanese cinema and pop media. On Saturday, April 10th, VIZ Cinema offers a special Gundam Movie Marathon. Three feature films featuring the iconic robot will be screened in the theatre, which features 35mm and digital projection and a THX?-certified sound system.

TokyoScope Talk Vol. 2: MECHA MANIA: Four Decades of Slam-Bang Sci-Fi Robot Anime comes to VIZ Cinema on Friday, April 9th at 7:00pm. Tickets are $8.00. Also co-hosting the event will be author and critic Tomohiro Machiyama, who together with Macias wrote Cruising Anime City, (published by Stone Bridge Press) a highly detailed travel guide about Tokyo otaku culture and the anime phenomenon.

?From Astro Boy and Tetsujin 28 to Gundam and Voltron to Transformers and Gurren Lagann, giant robots and other fantastic machines and technology, or mecha, are instantly recognizable mainstays of anime,? says Macias. ?There?s also a lot of cultural iconography intertwined with these machines and their operators, often presented as heroic warriors in the samurai warrior tradition. I look forward to tracing the nearly 50 year history and evolution of mecha along with some often humorous stories and latest examples. And don?t miss an awesome raffle giveaway featuring some tear-jerking treasures for super mecha fans!?

VIZ Cinema?s Weeknight Anime People makes a special weekend stop with an day-long triple feature of Gundam! General ticket price: $10:00; Combo tickets are $25:00. No further discounts will apply.

Gundam Movie Marathon, Saturday, April 10th ? One Day Only!

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie I, 11:00am
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie II: Soldiers of Sorrow, 1:35pm
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie III: Encounters in Space, 4:05pm

VIZ Cinema?s Weeknight Anime People makes a special weekend stop with an afternoon of Gundam! In the year 0079 of the Universal Century, the Earth Federation and its space colonies are engaged in an apocalyptic war. The rebellious Duchy of Zeon, using humanoid fighting machines called Mobile Suits, has all but vanquished the Federation. Now the Federation?s last hope is the prototype Mobile Suit, Gundam. When a twist of fate makes young civilian Amuro Ray the sole-pilot of Gundam, Amuro?s own battle begins ? a struggle not only for the Federation?s survival, but for his own. General ticket price: $10:00; Combo tickets are $25:00. No further discounts will apply.
 

 Apr 02, 2010 - 08:16 AM - by Michael
RIP, Ed Roberts
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Personal Stuff/Random News Ed Roberts - who created the Altair computer - has passed on.

There goes a great man.

 

 Apr 01, 2010 - 07:23 AM - by Michael
April 1st, Eh?
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Personal Stuff/Random News Well played, Mr. Greg Dean.

Well played indeed.
 

 Mar 31, 2010 - 02:34 PM - by Michael
Letting HAL Learn
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Personal Stuff/Random News Coming to you from MIT, a "grand unified theory" of artificial intelligence... which will still never beat real stupidity.

As a research tool, Goodman has developed a computer programming language called Church ? after the great American logician Alonzo Church ? that, like the early AI languages, includes rules of inference. But those rules are probabilistic. Told that the cassowary is a bird, a program written in Church might conclude that cassowaries can probably fly. But if the program was then told that cassowaries can weigh almost 200 pounds, it might revise its initial probability estimate, concluding that, actually, cassowaries probably can?t fly.

?With probabilistic reasoning, you get all that structure for free,? Goodman says
Hooked into a properly powerful computer, it could conceivably develop self-awareness, reach "I think therefore I am", and derive the existence of rice pudding and income tax before getting bored and starting to play games a lot like this one...
 

 Mar 31, 2010 - 02:32 PM - by Michael
Watch out torrenters
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Personal Stuff/Random News Looks like Isohunt may soon close their doors:

Fung previously tried to argue that his sites were just another search engine that just happened to pick up copyrighted content, but the studios countered with evidence that his search code was specifically tuned to find copyrighted material.

Now, Fung is stuck between a rock and a hard place as he tries to find a way to comply with his injunction without shutting down. Judge Wilson has barred Fung from creating, maintaining or providing access to categories with .torrent files, search results with .torrent files, or any "similar files using or based on Infringement-Related Terms."
For some reason, The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers..." seems a very appropriate quotation.
 

 Mar 30, 2010 - 06:41 AM - by Michael
When did games get "real"?
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Personal Stuff/Random News GSW decries the number of "realistic" games these days in a very interesting op-ed.

Maybe in the past we created crazy games simply because we couldn?t recreate reality with the technology. Consider Bayonetta. Here you?ve got a woman whose clothing is made of her hair, and has guns in her shoes. I?ve heard a lot of people, journalists especially, talk about how crazy this is. In 1992 this would not be crazy. This would be par for the course in the creation of a video game.
In many respects, technology has played a role - but moreover, part of it is that the "quirky" titles and design still exist, they just are on the second shelf behind the "realistic" Call of Duty, Manhunt, and other bloody/"realistic" titles.
 

 Mar 28, 2010 - 02:50 PM - by Michael
FF 13, 12 hours in...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Yes, let's call it as we see it.

I can just see the developers of this game having an argument ending in the phrase "Dude, stop getting your gameplay mixed up in my cutscene."

It's not that the story is bad. It's just that they CONSTANTLY rip control of the characters away from the characters for a CGI cutscene, after every 4-5 battles.

I'm hoping it has a chance to improve, but so far, it's tepid on that score, feeling almost like a push-button movie instead of a game.
 

 Mar 28, 2010 - 02:47 PM - by Michael
The Economics of Bugs
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Personal Stuff/Random News Wonder why your software has bugs? Well, all software does - and simple economics says that killing the major ones, and leaving the minor, makes your software affordable.

How do you know whether a bug is big or little? Think about who?s going to hit it, and how mad they?ll be when they do. If a user who goes through three levels of menus, opens an advanced configuration window, checks three checkboxes, and hits the ?A? key gets a weird error message for his trouble, that?s a little bug. It?s buried deep, and when the user hits it, he says ?huh,? clicks a button, and then goes on his merry way. If your program crashes on launch for a common setup, though, that?s a big bug. Lots of people will hit it, and they will all be pissed.
Game-killing bugs? Gotta fix. Other stuff? Maybe not so much. Next time you hit an "unusual" bug, sure, send a bug report to the company, but remember, it may simply cost them more than it's worth to fix it.
 

 Mar 24, 2010 - 07:25 AM - by Michael
Them Singin Fish
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Personal Stuff/Random News Well, here they are.

Texan Richard Carter took a Volvo, 5 miles of wire, five 6-volt golf cart batteries, a screw drive mechanism using 12v DC reversible motor, a lifting frame he made from scratch, a Linux server and approximately two hundred synchronized singing fish, and created what can only be described as an awesomely effective assault on good taste.
Yes. Yes he did. But on the other hand, that level of hardware and a linux server? Some serious geek cred there.
 

 Mar 23, 2010 - 01:34 PM - by Michael
So it's true...
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Personal Stuff/Random News Indeed, RPG heroes are pretty much jerks.

Jerks in armor with big swords.
 

 Mar 18, 2010 - 11:00 AM - by Michael
Catalyst Trouble
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Personal Stuff/Random News For boardgame/roleplaying/strategy folks, a bit of bad news: Catalyst Game Labs, current "running company" of Battletech and Shadowrun (which they lease from the Evil Empire called Topps), have a bit of financial oops going on.

Purplepawn had some other info, and apparently a few CGL employees have up and left.

Hopefully it turns out well in the end; CGL've been shepherding two "granddaddy of the industry" licenses for a while now, and the amounts of money are showing that the lines are themselves financially viable, provided the company involved behaves itself...
 

 Mar 16, 2010 - 07:21 AM - by Michael
Viz Anime opens
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Personal Stuff/Random News Want some free anime? Viz has opened up their new website full of goodies. I'll be taking a look through from time to time.



San Francisco, CA, March 15, 2010 ? In a significant news announcement, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry?s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has detailed the launch of VIZ Anime ? a brand new, free-to-use interactive web destination that will become a permanent home to some of the company?s best-loved animated series as well as new content which will be added on a weekly basis. VIZ Anime is accessible at: www.VIZAnime.com.

VIZ Anime kicks off with more than 400 episodes from hit series such as BLEACH, BUSO RENKIN, DEATH NOTE (complete series), HIKARU NO GO, HONEY & CLOVER, INUYASHA (complete series) and INUYASHA: THE FINAL ACT, NANA, NARUTO (complete series) and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN as well as THE PRINCE OF TENNIS. The site will also be the future web home for many other eagerly anticipated anime series set to launch later this year!

Episodes can be streamed for free with new ones being added weekly. A variety of interactive social networking tools and features also help foster an official online home and community for VIZ Media anime fans allowing them to connect on and discuss favorite shows, and offer ratings and opinions of various episodes. New functionalities will be added regularly.

  • Users can ?follow? as many series as they like and choose to be notified each time a new episode is released, as well as keep track of the last episode they?ve watched. This makes it easy to stay current on series like INUYASHA or NARUTO, which feature more than 100 episodes.

  • Users can comment on individual episodes and also meet and interact with other fans, invite friends to join, ask questions and debate plot twists and characters, voice their opinion on what?s happening in a particular series, and also find out what else is going on across the anime and manga spectrums.

  • Users can rate their favorite episodes by using a ?Like? button on each episode page. They can quickly access a list of all the episodes they?ve similarly liked to compare how other users have liked an episode.

  • Users can make a personalized profile page to keep track of the episodes they?ve watched and enjoyed, the series they?re currently following, and comments they?ve made. Mail tools can also be used to send private messages between individual users. Privacy controls let users decide what information is shared publicly and who is able to send them messages.
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     Feb 25, 2010 - 11:38 AM - by Michael
    Rickpulled
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    Personal Stuff/Random News It was as if millions of geeks suddenly cried out... but don't worry. Youtube put the original "Rickroll" video back up after a few hours.
     

     Feb 24, 2010 - 05:14 PM - by Michael
    Pure Geeky Awesome.
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    Personal Stuff/Random News
    Simply awesome. And all with off-the-shelf Thinkgeek components.
     

     Feb 22, 2010 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
    Live Vs Videogames
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Yes, completely random. Enjoy the comparisons. See which ones you disagree with.
     

     Feb 22, 2010 - 07:18 AM - by Michael
    Real Live Video Game Weapons
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Some video game weapons are unrealistic. Some are actually downright sane (in a steampunk-ish sort of way). Games Radar looks at some that have real-life analogues. Take lasers for instance:

    However, technology has been coming on leaps and bounds in recent years, and the US military is working with Boeing to create a truck-based anti-air laser and an apparently terrifyingly precise gunship mounted sniping laser weighing around 40,000 lbs. The former is scheduled for battle-strength demonstration in around two years time and the latter was successfully tested this very month.

    In a real-life deathmatch:

    You?d do pretty well as long as you didn?t mind circle-strafing really slowly in a 35-ton truck.
     

     Feb 16, 2010 - 01:53 PM - by Michael
    Jailbreak This?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Apple are apparently attacking iPhone hackers and jailbreakers and banning accounts from the App Store:

    Sherif Hashim who recently found an exploit for the latest version of the iPhone OS has apparently been banned for security reasons by Apple. The picture you see there is what he sees when he tries to enter the iTunes App Store.

    Bummer.
    Who knows what comes next? Remember, with Apple, Big Brother is always watching...
     

     Feb 16, 2010 - 01:26 PM - by Michael
    Green Zambonis Choke
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Vancouver had a little problem with their "green" ice resurfacers and had to go back to a good old-fashioned Zamboni.

    Oh I wanna drive the Zamboni....

    It's the second straight day there have been issues here treating the ice between sessions --- yesterday it was the women's 3,000. Problems with that Zamboni left only one available for today, and then that one that began to have problems. The Zamboni left some piles of slush in the turn near where I am sitting --- which is also the front straightaway.
    So much for the "green model." Back to old reliable.
     

     Feb 10, 2010 - 11:51 AM - by Michael
    War of the Bots
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    Personal Stuff/Random News There's a new Russian botnet that's actively trying to co-opt the Zeus botnet:



    With its "Kill Zeus" option, Spy Eye is the most aggressive crimeware, however. The software can also steal data as it is transferred back to a Zeus command-and-control server, said Kevin Stevens, a researcher with SecureWorks. "This author knows that Zeus has a pretty good market, and he's looking to cut in," he said.

    Turf wars are nothing new to cybercriminals. Two years ago a malicious program called Storm Worm began attacking servers controlled by a rival known as Srizbi. And a few years before that, the authors of the Netsky worm programmed their software to remove rival programs Bagle and MyDoom.
    So, yes. Check your system and keep your virus scanning package up to date, and practice some safe computing and common sense.
     

     Feb 04, 2010 - 11:21 AM - by Michael
    New Vegas
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    Personal Stuff/Random News "War. War never changes."

    This is an absolutely wonderful teaser trailer, even if I weren't already sold on the game merely on the strength of Fallout 3.
     

     Feb 03, 2010 - 04:02 PM - by Michael
    Crisped Gamer
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Over at TBM, an article detailing how CrispyGamer died.

    The new idea of journalists as unrelenting marketers on Twitter and Facebook is apparent to anyone who has friends who are writers. While Teti had the temerity to say no to the board?s offer, writers who are also video-game consultants would likely fall over themselves to have the big bucks Teti turned down. Except their work can?t be trusted. The ultimate question, at least for the world of video-game journalism, is: Does honest editorial quality matter any more? Certainly for the most interesting video-game site on the Web, it no longer does.
    Unfortunately, this has become the unspoken rule for game reviews. Can you trust the content of big sites? Probably not. If they had early access, they're reviewing on the promise that certain bugs will be fixed (word to the wise: they almost never are). If they had special access, they will feel pressured to give a positive review or else not get access in the future. If their company also sells ads, they'll get pressure from the ad side.

    Calling a mediocre game a mediocre game, when your ad revenue depends on selling the intended blockbusters, is hard to do. It's hard to do in the best of times, when you're going against the hype. I'm saddened for the loss of Crispy, because they were what I was hoping would be a model for the industry: a bigger name that could reflect the ethics the gaming community hopes for.
     

     Feb 03, 2010 - 07:45 AM - by Michael
    On DRM Again
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    Personal Stuff/Random News There's an article over at Savygamer (a UK site) asking a few game designers what they think about DRM:

    TIGA?s research shows that the majority of video games developers (60%) see piracy as a problem for their business and most also see this as a constant or increasing problem for their business going forward (90%). However most developers view the actual threat of piracy to their business survival as low (60%) with only 20% ranking the threat as medium and only 10% considering the threat to be high (10% had no view).
    It's heartening to see that they're starting to see "piracy" as little risk to their business, but the solutions they're coming up with (up to and including Ubisoft's ridiculous "be online or you can't play" setup) have just been bad news.
     

     Jan 27, 2010 - 12:27 PM - by Michael
    A good way to get a headache.
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Vertigo. Massive, massive, massive amounts of vertigo.
     

     Jan 25, 2010 - 02:08 PM - by Michael
    CN Hires Weird Al
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Cartoon Network has hired Weird Al. Hopefully this is the start of them getting away from the abysmal, awful stuff they've been running the past few years.
    Without going into too much detail, the good folks at Cartoon Network decided that they liked me and wanted me to provide some content for them ? series, features, animation, live-action? they were open to anything. So after a couple years (yes, really) of the lawyers going back and forth, we finalized a deal ? now all I have to do is start making stuff! The first thing I?m on track to do for them is, in fact, a live-action feature film.
    Go Al!
     

     Jan 21, 2010 - 07:44 AM - by Michael
    Cattle of Unusual Size
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    Personal Stuff/Random News This time, it's to clone the might Auroch.

    Yeah. Cattle of Unusual Size. What's next? Possibly Rodents of Unusual Size?

    The interesting trick is, it's not (this time) direct cloning. Rather, they're taking "related" animals, and attempting to crossbreed them in order to re-create something very similar to the extinct beast:

    Breeds of large cattle which most closely resemble Bos primigenius, such as Highland cattle and the white Maremma breed from Italy, are being bred with each other in a technique known as "back-breeding".

    At the same time, scientists say they have for the first time created a map of the auroch's genome, so that they know precisely what type of animal they are trying to replicate.

    "We were able to analyse auroch DNA from preserved bone material and create a rough map of its genome that should allow us to breed animals nearly identical to aurochs," said team leader Donato Matassino, head of the Consortium for Experimental Biotechnology in Benevento, in the southern Campania region.

    "We've already made our first round of crosses between three breeds native to Britain, Spain and Italy. Now we just have to wait and see how the calves turn out."
     

     Jan 20, 2010 - 08:49 AM - by Michael
    Thunder. Kaboom.
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    Personal Stuff/Random News I don't know about you, but this is actually pretty awesome.

    This seems like a harmless tube. In fact, it was harmless: Israeli farmers used the first version to scare birds from crop fields. Then, somebody converted it into a crowd dispersion mechanism. And then, they discovered it could kill.
    I could easily see these set up instead of minefields, some day. Set 'em off when enemies are far enough away and keep them from coming further.
     

     Jan 19, 2010 - 07:51 AM - by Michael
    Old Buildings
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Slate carries an intriguing slideshow on old, derelict buildings; some are old houses, other old churches, a few old factories, and even a restaurant building.

    Got any like this in your hometown? I remember quite a few back where I grew up. A number of them may be eerily similar to sights you'll see in Fallout 3 as well.

    Ruins constantly change. City workers seal windows and doorways and sometimes try to cover up dereliction by painting fake windows and doors on the seals. Scavengers steal carvings, statues, metal pipes, wires, and even bricks and stones. Arsonists often destroy buildings entirely, leaving behind a vacant lot and not even a memory of what stood there before. Abandoned and derelict buildings quickly become hosts to vegetation on their roofs and in their walls. The rain and wind accelerate their descent into ruin.
     

     Jan 19, 2010 - 07:41 AM - by Michael
    Airlock Launches
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    Personal Stuff/Random News If you're out in the Seattle area, you'll want to check out The Airlock, the most recently opened site running Virtual World Tesla II gaming pods and the Battletech software.

    Yep. Seattle now has giant robots.
     

     Jan 19, 2010 - 07:29 AM - by Michael
    Viz Cinema does STRAY DOG OF TOKYO
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Viz Cinema's got the latest in their release series coming up - on January 26th they'll be screening the documentary DAIDO MORIYAMA: STRAY DOG OF TOKYO.

    If you're in the San Francisco area, check into it.

    San Francisco, CA, January 12, 2010 ? VIZ Cinema, the nation?s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, invites San Francisco?s art and film communities to attend a special screening of DAIDO MORIYAMA: STRAY DOG OF TOKYO, the latest documentary from its ongoing NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES. The film provides a rare glimpse into the life and work of this hugely influential photographer and will premiere at the theatre at 7:30pm on Tuesday, January 26th ? for one night only!

    The film will also be released on DVD the same day from VIZ Pictures. Tickets for the special screening are $25.00 and will include a copy of the DVD, postcard, and NEW PEOPLE pin buttons to all who attend. $10 tickets are also available for regular admission. For more information on this event, please visit www.vizcinema.com.

    The NEW PEOPLE Artist Series is an intriguing collection of documentaries introducing dynamic modern Japanese pop artists to American audiences. Daido Moriyama has been a major force in artistic photography for more than four decades, but his true persona has been hidden behind a veil of mystery, until now. This documentary captures the moment that Moriyama takes his first ever digital photos and displays his trademark photographic technique of taking quick snapshots without looking in the viewfinder. Often shot in black and white, out of focus and dramatically cropped or tilted, the themes of Moriyama's images have been said to convey a sense of the disordered human condition and the conflicting realities of modern urban life. For more information about the series, please visit www.newpeopleartistseries.com or www.viz-pictures.com.
     

     Jan 19, 2010 - 07:23 AM - by Michael
    Wyrmstone launches
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Nope, not a PC title, but an organized pencil-and-paper gaming campaign, Wyrmstone have announced themselves and are angling to fill the void left when Living Greyhawk ended and the laughable "Living Forgotten Realms" started.

    They're throwing a lot into this one. Be warned, though, it doesn't use the D&D ruleset, it uses the Fantasy Craft ruleset instead - another system that, like Paizo's Pathfinder, is trying to "extend" the life of D&D 3.5 in rejection of Wizards of the Coast's rather underwhelming D&D 4.0 system.

    They're even offering to let people convert old characters into their system. I wonder how well that works with all of 3.5's zany prestige classes...
     

     Jan 19, 2010 - 07:16 AM - by Michael
    Another Year, Another Semester
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Make sure your defenses are up to date, folks (that means firewall and virus scanner) and be extra careful with your e-mail.

    It's the day after MLK day, meaning millions of students are back in dorms/classes, and millions of vulnerable computers that haven't been patched in a month and a half are being turned back on.
     

     Jan 11, 2010 - 07:39 AM - by Michael
    Mal Confusion
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The December malware reports are a bit confusing; it turns out the criterion for different monitoring companies/agencies are coming up with different top threats.

    Part of the problem is that they name things differently (Kaspersky calls Conficker "Kido", for example). Part of it is that some of them detect certain code differently.

    Keep your eyes peeled. January's on the way, universities are about to get back in session, and another upswing is scheduled as millions of unpatched students get back online in their dorms...
     

     Jan 01, 2010 - 12:53 PM - by Michael
    Awesome Science
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Wired spotlights scientific breakthroughs of 2009. Enjoy!
     

     Dec 22, 2009 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
    Dumb Tech Moments
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Proving they, like many other people, do not understand what a decade is, Technologizer offers up a list of dumb Tech Moments from the "decade" 2000-2009.

    If ever a decade began dumb, it was this one.* When clocks struck midnight on January 1st and the dreaded Y2K bug turned out to be nothing but a mild irritant, it proved once again that the experts often don?t know what the heck they?re talking about.
    Given that the decade didn't begin until January 1st, 2001... yeah. That was dumb.
     

     Dec 08, 2009 - 10:20 AM - by Michael
    Good Idea? Nope. Bad Idea.
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    Personal Stuff/Random News This is just wacky enough to post up, but I would like to say now that this is probably a Bad Idea...
    SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 8, 2009 -- Combine a simple but addictive game concept with the music of a leading television and film composer and the artwork of a top video game illustrator and you have Stone Skipper, a new app for the Apple iPhone (http://www.stoneskipper.com).

    Stone Skipper lets players turn their iPhones into rocks and simulate skipping them across still water. A simple concept, but the challenge starts with keeping a firm grip on the iPhone so as not to actually launch it across the room. From there, the difficulty ramps up and the game just gets more intense -- and more fun. With the help of Max and his dog, Andy, each Stone Skipper level requires the player to skip the rock more and more times. After three unsuccessful tries, it's game over.

    It is perhaps just as fun to watch people play Stone Skipper as it is to play the game. In fact, the app is already becoming a popular party game. After all, everyone remembers skipping rocks, and the wacky movements players make while trying to skip their stones are good for plenty of laughs.

    "We got the idea to create Stone Skipper when we noticed the iPhone has the perfect weight and smoothness to be skipped across a lake," stated Burnley Media spokeswoman Julia Brown (http://www.burnleymedia.com). "Unfortunately, the real iPhone doesn't like being in contact with water."

    With that in mind, the Burnley Media team called on award-winning artist Michael Heald of Fully Illustrated (http://www.fullyillustrated.com) to design the look of Stone Skipper and Max and Andy.

    The game features an original soundtrack by composer Simon J. Hunter (http://www.sjhunter.net), whose work can often be heard in CSI, trailers for dozens of movies including Iron Man and Wanted, as well as numerous other television and film projects. Hunter's soundtrack has taken on a life of its own and is now available in the iTunes Music Store.

    "The Stone Skipper iPhone app is the result of a successful creative collaboration," said Brown. "We are excited to introduce the game to the iPhone community and look forward to developing additional iPhone games."

    Let the epidemic of broken iPhones commmence...
     

     Dec 08, 2009 - 10:02 AM - by Michael
    Dragon*Con Misbehavior
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Apparently, Dragon*Con have seriously mistreated a vendor.

    As this is Blind Ferret Entertainment, I have no reason to believe they were unprofessional.

    Read up on it, and if you want to contact Dragon*Con with a complaint or sharply worded email (but please, keep it civil!), their contact form is here.
     

     Dec 03, 2009 - 09:14 AM - by Michael
    The Need for Net Neutrality
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Ars offers up a fantastic article on why Net Neutrality is needed, providing an immense historical example; the days when the telegraph, controlled by Western Union, was abused.

    The duo then cut a deal with telegraph operator Western Union. In exchange for exclusive access to Western Union, both APs promised never to "encourage or support any opposition or competing Telegraph Company." In turn, newspapers that subscribed to AP pledged to use AP only. And no new newspaper could join the news cartel without the support of current AP members in the region.

    Thus, "if a newspaper publicly criticized the AP, it risked losing its membership," notes the historian Paul Starr. "Not only, therefore, did AP itself enjoy a monopoly position; its member newspapers could also protect themselves against local competition."
    The behavior of cable companies - Cox, Comcrap, etc - in trying to block out Internet Video to protect their TV channel business is eerily similar...
     

     Dec 02, 2009 - 10:27 AM - by Michael
    Greg Dean Rants...
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Hey Greg Dean...

    The answer is... well... polygon count. It's easier to make a staircase with 1/3 the polygons render well. Yes, this leads to abnormally high stairs. It could be worse. They used to just use single ramp-type polygon with a "staircase" texture on it.
     

     Dec 01, 2009 - 08:19 AM - by Michael
    Games Workshop Attacks Gamers
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Games Workshop gets almost no love from anyone these days - their behavior towards retailers, letting them build a player base and then undercutting them by dropping an "Official Games Workshop" store next door, is just insane - but BoingBoing covers something even more aggressive: GW trying to cut out people who make either fan-made add-ons, repair kits, or other products to keep long-discontinued products in service.

    Also, if you're a board gamer, Headless Hollow still offers some great rules summaries and optional house rules you might consider checking out. Yes, some are the ones GW is going after, but others (like the Arkham Horror rules reference) are great for making your games more playable.

    [UPDATE] Games Workshop are just plain jerks all around - a while back they tried to stop anyone from selling their products online, and they shut down Vassal Modules (which allowed people to play online) a while back as well.
     

     Nov 30, 2009 - 08:32 AM - by Michael
    "Guilds" = Gangs?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one for the MMO crowd; a researcher has shown mathematical model similarity between the formation of street gangs and the formation of MMORPG "guilds".

    Dr Neil Johnson, the lead researcher of the study, told my paper that the model shows how gamer guilds and street gangs form in a similar fashion despite differing demographics. It is therefore possible to use the same model to study other competitive social groups anywhere in the world.

    This includes terrorist groups, said the British physics professor, who teaches at the University of Miami.

    He defines competitive groups as organisations that have features like a need to protect themselves from other groups. They develop their own rules, carry out clandestine acts and share a desire not to get trapped.
    Having seen how guilds operated on the MMORPG's I played in the past, up to and including ritualized hazing and groupthink behavior, I'd tend to agree. It's actually scary to contemplate. And of course, in PvP games "ganking" behavior by entire guilds certainly qualifies as well.
     

     Nov 26, 2009 - 09:56 AM - by Michael
    Turkey Day
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    Personal Stuff/Random News If you're in the US... Happy Thanksgiving!

    Enjoy a good meal with friends and family, and take a day counting your blessings. Everybody's got them.
     

     Nov 23, 2009 - 09:07 PM - by Michael
    Shatner's Trek Scene
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The scene which was planned for Shatner in the new Star Trek film has been revealed, in script form at least.

    It's a cameo, and Shatner's always said he "doesn't do cameos" - but at the same time, it would have been one hell of a damn cool cameo.

    It's too bad they couldn't pull this one off.
     

     Nov 20, 2009 - 11:37 AM - by Michael
    California at it again
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    Personal Stuff/Random News California's at it again - they enacted a new set of regulations designed to kill big-screen TV's. Not to worry, there's an entertaining response from CEDIA. And of course, Audioholics also have an interesting idea:

    Manufacturers need not stress this issue as we at Audioholics have a solution. Going forward, all large displays should ship in what we call "SCAM" mode which stands for Stupid CA legislation Mode. In this mode, the display brightness/contrast settings would be set a few clicks to the right of zero, audio would be disabled and backlighting would be set to minimum. The power consumption should be measured in this mode much like an A/V receiver power consumption is measured with one channel driven at full rated power and the other channels at 1/8th power. Who cares if you can't see or hear the picture out of the box? You now have a "Green" friendly display that has a 90% chance of getting returned to the store by unwary consumers not being able to figure out how to get it out of this mode. Of course, this will increase the consumers' carbon footprint via unnecessary traveling back to the store, but it will satisfy the CA ruling and further line the pockets of middle eastern oil companies in the process.
    Are we doomed to see silly legislation from California for all eternity?
     

     Nov 18, 2009 - 03:05 PM - by Michael
    A long time ago...
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    Personal Stuff/Random News A long time ago, in a studio far far away, someone... managed to put "computer" graphics into Star Wars.

    That was 1977. It's come quite a long way, hasn't it?
     

     Nov 15, 2009 - 07:54 AM - by Michael
    Auto-tune
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    Personal Stuff/Random News This simply, fundamentally, rocks.

    Well, despite the fact that very little rock music has actually used autotune. It's usually reserved either as an obvious effect, or to try to correct completely worthless "singers" like Britney Spears (though she goes in more for simply lip synching.
     

     Nov 15, 2009 - 06:46 AM - by Michael
    Star Trek Pilot
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The upcoming season 3 Blu-ray (and ONLY the Blu-ray... damn them) of the original series Star Trek will have the recovered original, extended edition of the second pilot episode.

    The alternate version is in three parts with 1970s-style act breaks, an entirely different version of Captain James T. Kirk's opening monologue ("But now a new task. A probe out into where no man has gone before") and music that contrasts from the famous opening theme and an extended action sequence.
    Wow.
     

     Nov 11, 2009 - 12:53 PM - by Michael
    Ghost in the Shell
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Like Ghost in the Shell? Live anywhere close to Houston? You could drop by Alamo Drafthouse (West Oaks location) for a free showing of Ghost in the Shell 2.0, the "remake" (or re-rendering, depending on your point of view) of the story.

    Word is this will be in Japanese with English subtitles.
     

     Nov 09, 2009 - 09:15 AM - by Michael
    Trouble Losing Weight?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News If you're having trouble losing weight, the NYT has a solution for you based on new research: eat less food already!.

    The research shows that people who are "having trouble" losing weight are, quite simply, not obeying the "golden rule" of weight loss: consume less calories than you burn.

    ?The message of our work is really simple,? although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. ?It all comes down to energy balance,? or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People ?are only burning 200 or 300 calories? in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. ?You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.?
     

     Nov 09, 2009 - 09:15 AM - by Michael
    MythTV Updated
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    Personal Stuff/Random News If you're a Linux/MythTV buff, there's a new version for you. Support has been added for some new hardware, and they've launched a theming competition to work on upgrading the interface.

    Full Release Notes are also available.
     

     Nov 05, 2009 - 10:50 AM - by Michael
    NECCO=Assholes
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    Personal Stuff/Random News New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) have closed their Pewaukee, WI plant and discontinued Candy Raisins.

    Their response to customer/store inquiries? "We don't care."

    NECCO are assholes. If you don't believe that's how companies should treat their customers, I encourage you to boycott them.
     

     Oct 28, 2009 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
    Death Note Novel hits US
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    Personal Stuff/Random News If you're a fan of the Death Note anime, Viz is putting out the new novel for your enjoyment as well:
    San Francisco, CA, October 27, 2009 ? VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, expands the thrilling psychological suspense of DEATH NOTE with the release of DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd, a new novel featuring the master detective from the hit animated and manga series. DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd is available now from SHONEN JUMP Fiction and carries an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $24.00 CAN.

    In an alternative continuity in the DEATH NOTE setting, ace detective L's name has been placed in a Death Note. He has twenty-three days to bring a terrorist group to justice, or they will use a deadly new virus to change the world...by killing off most of humanity.

    ?DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd offers a fitting finale to the DEATH NOTE saga and contains many events that did not take place in the film,? says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & marketing, VIZ Media. ?The author, who adopts the nom de plume ?M? in tribute to the eccentric detective, creates an intriguing alternate continuity that will intrigue fans of the anime and manga series as well as new readers. Any thoughts of a quiet hospice vanish as L sacrifices his life to save humanity. Edge of your seat suspense awaits readers in this gripping new novel!?

    DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd features the same format as the original Japanese printing with a hardcover and clear acetate jacket with metallic ink. The cover art is by Takeshi Obata, the artists fo the DEATH NOTE manga series. DEATH NOTE is one of VIZ Media?s top 5 bestselling properties, with over 1 million copies of the manga sold in the U.S. The character of L is extremely popular with fans and has inspired various products such as apparel and stationery as well as spinoff novels and three live action DEATH NOTE films (available from VIZ Pictures).

     

     Oct 28, 2009 - 07:28 AM - by Michael
    Guitar Hero's Fans
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Guitar Hero's got one million Facebook fans; Activision passed out a press release to celebrate.

    SANTA MONICA, CA ? October 26, 2009 ? Activision Publishing Inc.?s (NASDAQ: ATVI) Guitar Hero? is the first console videogame franchise to surpass 1 million Facebook fans demonstrating the global appeal and passion for the brand that is quickly becoming the next platform for experiencing music and social interaction.



    Guitar Hero is the #1 best-selling third party video game franchise in North America and Europe calendar year to date. Since its release, the franchise has sold more than 38 million units worldwide, including more than 7 million units in calendar 2009 alone, according to The NPD Group, Charttrack and GfK.



    Guitar Hero 5? was released on Sept. 1 to critical acclaim for its music variety, innovative gameplay and empowering fans to rock anyway they want with all-new features that make it the most social and interactive Guitar Hero game ever. Official Xbox Magazine said, ?This is the Guitar Hero game to own? while AOL GameDaily said, ?Guitar Hero 5 feels just fresh as it did when the series debuted on the PlayStation 2.?



    Guitar Hero?s Facebook community can come together at the social networking site to get the latest information on Guitar Hero games and the artists in the games, as well as share their favorite artists, songs, and Guitar Hero experiences. Facebook fans also gain access to exclusive information and content on past, current and future games.



    Living room legends can now rock any way they want to a variety of iconic rock music in Guitar Hero 5. The entire set list is at players? fingertips from the start, featuring genre-defining hits from some of the biggest rock artists and bands of all time, including The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Vampire Weekend. Players take complete control as Guitar Hero 5 allows gamers to personalize and customize how they experience music by being able to play with any controller combination -- multiple vocalists, guitarists, bassists and drummers, in any game mode. With the game?s all-new Party Play Mode, getting the band back together has never been easier. Players can now jump in or drop out of gameplay seamlessly, without interrupting their jam session. Elevating the Guitar Hero? series to new heights with unmatched social gameplay, an enhanced style, new in-game artists and more rock legends, Guitar Hero 5 features new surprises and challenges that will fire-up long-time fret board fanatics and create a new generation of addicts.

     

     Oct 23, 2009 - 04:21 PM - by Michael
    I am somewhat appalled
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    Personal Stuff/Random News They actually made a Heavy Gear cartoon?

    And it ran for 40 episodes?

    Somebody must have been desperate and had a cheap CG farm on hand...
     

     Oct 22, 2009 - 01:33 PM - by Michael
    And the move progresses
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Headquarters is partially moved; not all the way, but we're getting closer!
     

     Oct 13, 2009 - 10:30 AM - by Michael
    Carnage?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Personally I think there are better characters to do this with, but Activision's released news on the first "downloadable" character for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, and it'll be Carnage.

    They've got a developer diary over here.

    We really wanted to make sure we didn?t make another Spider-Man or another Venom. It was really important that we make Carnage as unique as possible, especially in the way that he moved and the way that he attacked.

    We used the word ?vicious? a lot when talking about how he should look. ?Crazy? too, because of the background of who he is and what he is. I worked mostly on his basic melee combat. That?s when we really pay attention to how we can differentiate that character. Spider-Man needs to be agile & springy. Venom was more of a bruiser, like a huge jungle cat who attacks with lethal clawed swipes. For Carnage, we wanted him to feel as quick as Spider-Man, but as dangerous as Venom (or worse). We ended up with a very ?slashy? character. Carnage is like a lunatic knife fighter: cutting people up quickly and messily, without much concern for how he looks doing it.
     

     Oct 13, 2009 - 10:28 AM - by Michael
    Content Fearmongering
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Ars has a brilliant article covering 100 years of fearmongering, lies, and abuse by the content cartels.

    The anxious rhetoric around new technology is really quite shocking in its vehemence, from claims that the player piano will destroy musical taste and the "national throat" to concerns that the VCR is like the "Boston strangler" to claims that only Hollywood's premier content could make the DTV transition a success. Most of it turned out to be absurd hyperbole, but it's interesting to see just how consistent the words and the fears remain across more than a century of innovation and a host of very different devices.
    Welcome to the "digital" age. Kind of like the rest of them, and copyright law is still a poorly-written joke.
     

     Oct 08, 2009 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
    Bada Bing, Bada Boom, Big Move
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    Personal Stuff/Random News GU HQ is very shortly to be moving. Hopefully there'll be minimal downtime on games (much time has been spent looking over Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 of late... such a shame they tied it to that damnably bad "civil war" story, and put one of the world's lamest villains as the endboss) but there may be some.

    Just fair warning. That's also why certain updates have been slow recently. The acquisition of new real estate is a surprisingly daunting experience.

    In other news, today's Real Life Comics is something I am fully in agreement with. Certain people in the "education" industry obviously do not, in any sense of the phrase, live in the real world.
     

     Oct 02, 2009 - 09:36 AM - by Michael
    A simple plea
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Would somebody PLEASE take the Transformers franchise away from Michael Bay and give it to a competent director instead?

    Thank you. That is all.
     

     Sep 25, 2009 - 10:38 AM - by Michael
    Worst of the Worst
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Rotten Tomatoes pegs the worst 100 movies of the last decade. Be prepared for some doozies.
     

     Sep 21, 2009 - 06:00 PM - by Michael
    Marvel characters under risk?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The heirs of Jack Kirby are filing official notices of copyright termination to Marvel.

    This one is just plain messy, too.

    Sony has the film rights to Spider-Man in perpetuity, for instance, while Fox has the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Paramount has a distribution agreement for Marvel?s next few self-produced movies, including a second ?Iron Man? film. Meanwhile, Hasbro has certain toy rights and Universal holds the Florida theme park rights to Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, among other characters.

    Mr. Kirby, who died in 1994, worked with the writer-editor Stan Lee to create many of the characters that in the last decade have become some of the most valuable in a Hollywood that hungers for super-heroes. Mr. Kirby was involved with ?The Incredible Hulk,? ?The Mighty Thor,? ?Iron Man,? ?Spider-Man,? and ?The Avengers,? and others.


    The amount of legal paperwork alone will probably consume a small forest.
     

     Sep 21, 2009 - 05:49 PM - by Michael
    Buddhist leader likes violent games
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Karmapa Lama says that violent video games are just fine:



    Well, I view video games as something of an emotional therapy, a mundane level of emotional therapy for me. We all have emotions whether we're Buddhist practitioners or not, all of us have emotions, happy emotions, sad emotions, displeased emotions and we need to figure out a way to deal with them when they arise.

    So, for me sometimes it can be a relief, a kind of decompression to just play some video games. If I'm having some negative thoughts or negative feelings, video games are one way in which I can release that energy in the context of the illusion of the game. I feel better afterwards.

    The aggression that comes out in the video game satiates whatever desire I might have to express that feeling. For me, that's very skilful because when I do that I don't have to go and hit anyone over the head.
    We need more religious leaders like him, and less idiots like Jack Thompson.
     

     Sep 16, 2009 - 08:48 PM - by Michael
    United Appeal for the Dead
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    Personal Stuff/Random News RIP, Henry Gibson.

    But don't worry... you can still be a productive member of society and a force in your family's lives.

     

     Sep 09, 2009 - 11:23 AM - by Michael
    Managing Geeks
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Computerworld offers up an opinion column on why management-types have such trouble managing IT people:

    Few people notice this, but for IT groups respect is the currency of the realm. IT pros do not squander this currency. Those whom they do not believe are worthy of their respect might instead be treated to professional courtesy, a friendly demeanor or the acceptance of authority. Gaining respect is not a matter of being the boss and has nothing to do with being likeable or sociable; whether you talk, eat or smell right; or any measure that isn't directly related to the work. The amount of respect an IT pro pays someone is a measure of how tolerable that person is when it comes to getting things done, including the elegance and practicality of his solutions and suggestions. IT pros always and without fail, quietly self-organize around those who make the work easier, while shunning those who make the work harder, independent of the organizational chart.
    Read the full article. Maybe even send it to your management - via email or anonymous printout.
     

     Sep 06, 2009 - 10:29 PM - by Michael
    Brief First Reactions
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Wolfenstein: nicely developed, very good use of the Call of Duty engine. The powers are interesting. Ability to use the guns in different ways, very nice. I find myself trying to use the "lower power" guns more often, probably because I was used to doing the same thing (to conserve ammo) in past FPS titles.

    On the downside: the "hunt the items" stuff, and the "big expansive levels with enemies popping up out of rooms I just cleared out" stuff, are both annoying. They also commit a lot of other programming sins, like the "invisible edge of the world."

    Batman: Arkham Asylum. Now here is a crazy-fun game, at least to begin. The voice talents are spectacular (hooray for Mark Hamill as the Joker). The combat system is uniquely Batman. Sneak, stealth, or brawl, it's all there. The one annoyance is spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get to certain "bonus" items (Riddler trophies) only to figure out eventually that I'll have to come back for them later.
     

     Sep 01, 2009 - 01:56 PM - by Michael
    ADV Films Closed
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    Personal Stuff/Random News And the anime world is down to basically three players - Viz, Funimation, and Bandai. ADV Films is no more.

    Ouch.
     

     Aug 31, 2009 - 08:26 PM - by Michael
    As if Millions of Nerds Suddenly Cried Out...
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Disney has officially purchased Marvel Comics.

    Coming soon: the Hulk/Mickey crossover. And possibly, Deadpool and Donald teaming up to hunt them down...

    Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.
     

     Aug 27, 2009 - 04:24 PM - by Michael
    20th Century Boys in Theater
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Viz is going to hold a showing of 20th Century Boys in their cinema. If you can get there (San Francisco, tomorrow) you might consider it.

    San Francisco, CA, August 25, 2009 ? NEW PEOPLE, a dynamic entertainment destination bringing the latest examples of Japanese popular culture to North American shores, presents a very special world premiere the final chapter of the 20th Century Boys trilogy of live-action films ? 20th Century Boys 3: Redemption ? this Friday, August 28th at the newly opened VIZ Cinema located in the heart of San Francisco?s historic Japantown. The special world premiere will take place simultaneously with the theatrical release of the film in Japan and will continue to play at the venue through September 3rd. For schedule and ticket information, please visit www.vizcinema.com.

    The 20th Century Boys film trilogy is based on a critically-acclaimed manga (graphic novel) series created by Naoki Urasawa that was a national phenomenon in Japan, selling over 24 million copies. Excitement and anticipation for the release of the final chapter has built steadily from fans because the ending of the film is markedly different from the original manga series that inspired it.

    VIZ Cinema is the nation?s first movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX?-certified sound system. 20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End plays at VIZ Cinema until August 27th (matinee only), while 20th Century Boys 2: The Last Hope runs through August 28th.

    Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi and presented in partnership with Nippon Television, the 20th Century Boys saga begins in 1969 when a young boy named Kenji and his friends write ?The Book of Prophecy.? In the book, they write about a future where they fight against an evil organization trying to take over the world and bring about Doomsday. Years later in 1997, a mysterious cult being led by a man only known as ?Friend? has emerged and gained strong influence over society. A series of catastrophic events begin to occur, mirroring the prophecies made up by the young Kenji.

    Now in 2019, could the catastrophe written in The New Book of Prophecy be happening for real? What?s the true purpose of Friend?s evil plan? Who?s the real savior to that will stand up against him?

    In the final film, the year is Friend Era Year 3 (2017 A.D.) and the World President, Friend, rules humanity. After a deadly virus ravages Tokyo, a wall is built around the city and inhabitants? lives have been severely restricted. Friend tells everyone that on August 20th, aliens will destroy mankind and only those who believe in him will be saved. But a movement to stop Friend is in motion. Is protagonist Kenji really still alive? What is Friend?s plan for August 20th? Will the mystery behind the true identity of Friend be uncovered? All of the prophecies, schemes and plans will be finally revealed in the saga?s exciting concluding chapter.

    NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass fa?ade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at: www.NewPeopleWorld.com.
     

     Aug 24, 2009 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
    Hackers with nasties
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The NY Times hits on a new weapon for the black hats: keyloggers that report back in realtime.

    That gives them the ability to steal "expiring" passwords and compromise open sessions:

    By going real time, hackers now can get around some of the roadblocks that companies have put in their way. Most significantly, they are now undeterred by systems that create temporary passwords, such as RSA?s SecurID system, which involves a small gadget that displays a six-digit number that changes every minute based on a complex formula.

    If you computer is infected, the Trojan zaps your temporary password back to the waiting hacker who immediately uses it to log onto your account. Sometimes, the hacker logs on from his own computer, probably using tricks to hide its location. Other times, the Trojan allows the hacker to control your computer, opening a browser session that you can?t see.
    Ouch. Again, practice safe computing and be extra careful.
     

     Aug 24, 2009 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
    id won't port new engine to Linux
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Bad news for the linux crowd - id Software's new engine will not be getting a linux port.

    Sorry guys, but you are less than .5% of the possible gaming market, MUCH less once someone includes consoles. And honestly, the responses on that thread remind me of why so many people have not adopted Linux for the desktop - they have to wade through forums with people like you just to get the damn OS (of whatever distribution) running, and then come in again for any programs they want to use.
     

     Aug 16, 2009 - 11:30 PM - by Michael
    Rebelling on DLC
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Gametopius hits the nail on the head - console publishers are dropping the ball with DLC.

    I'm really pissed off lately with all the "pre-order X game to get the download code for Y extra character" crap.

    Some are finally starting to notice the disparity with Valve recently announcing a new campaign as DLC for Left 4 Dead. The thing is, that DLC is going to be free for owners of the PC version of the game but Xbox owners will have to pay $7 for the same content. This kind of thing has been going on for a few years now and it shows a clear separation between how essentially the same system is seen on different platforms of gaming.

    ...

    Why is this? The idea of this kind of content delivery was scarcely heard of on consoles, so console gamers see no reason not to pay for it, but on the PC these amounts of content are usually just considered parts of patches. Furthermore, why pay for a few extra maps and costumes when modders are making and offering new ones for free all the time?
    Meanwhile, the PC games market has been stagnating - let's face it, the number of "must-have" PC-only titles (or even "launched on PC, hit console later") for the past 3 years can be counted on one hand.
     

     Aug 16, 2009 - 11:19 PM - by Michael
    I have seen District 9
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    Personal Stuff/Random News I've seen what is quite probably the best science fiction movie we're going to get this year.

    Review's up right here as well.
     

     Aug 15, 2009 - 08:19 AM - by Michael
    Ultimate Alliance 2 Screens
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Activision have kicked us over a few screenshots of Ms. Marvel from their upcoming Marvel:Ultimate Alliance 2. Enjoy!
     

     Aug 12, 2009 - 07:10 PM - by Michael
    And nothing but the truth
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Greg Dean gets it right.

    I can't really add anything at all.
     

     Aug 11, 2009 - 03:54 PM - by Michael
    Now for some Baseball
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Stepping into the world of physical sports for a moment, Sports Illustrated has a great list of things that baseball would do better with, and now lacks.

    Pepper, anyone?

    Like hockey players, catchers have steadily disappeared under increasing layers of protective gear. In fact, the current catcher?s helmet, introduced in 1997 by Charlie O?Brien of the Blue Jays, was based on the modern goalie mask with a head-encompassing fiberglass/Kevlar shell and attached wire cage. Some backstops, such as Minnesota?s Joe Mauer, still wear the traditional mask, in use for more than a century, with a batting helmet turned backward as introduced by another Twin, Earl Battey, in 1962. But there?s a romance attached to the old days when catchers wore a cloth fielder?s cap along with a mask. Maybe it has something to do with baseball?s, well, uniformity. Managers and coaches dress like players, and the players look alike, save for the catcher in his tools of ignorance. His cap, however, made him feel a little more part of the team.
     

     Aug 11, 2009 - 10:57 AM - by Michael
    Augmented iPhone
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The iPhone gets augmented reality vision.

    By combining a smartphone's camera, GPS, and net connection Sekai allows social tagging, or "Air Tagging" as Tonchidot describes it, of the real world through the mobile screen.

    Using the phone's built-in GPS, Sekai calculates your position. The viewfinder for the camera then displays location-specific information graphically on top of your real-world view.
    Yeah, that's just crazy. Wait for the headset VR-sunglasses model.
     

     Aug 10, 2009 - 09:33 PM - by Michael
    Weird Evolution
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    Personal Stuff/Random News As things get back to normal, enjoy a Wired article about weird evolutionary kludges:

    6 Shark-fetus teeth. A few shark species have live births (instead of laying eggs). The Jaws juniors grow teeth in the womb. The first sibling or two to mature sometimes eat their siblings in utero. Mmm ... siblings.

    7 Human stomach. People can digest a lot ? except for cellulose, the primary component of plant matter. Why don't we have commensal bacteria in our guts to do it? They're busy helping termites.
    Well, our guts would need to be structured significantly differently to allow for the time it takes those bacteria to do their jobs, too.
     

     Aug 03, 2009 - 02:43 PM - by Michael
    Domain Theft Criminals
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The first-ever criminal prosecution for domain name theft is about to get under way:

    Cases of domain name theft have not typically involved a criminal prosecution because of the complexities, financial restraints and sheer time and energy involved. If a domain name is stolen, the victim of the crime in most cases would need experience with the technical and legal intricies associated with the domain name system. To move the case forward, they would also need a law enforcement professional who understands the case or is willing to take the time to learn. For example, the Angel?s told us that in their case they called their local law enforcement in Florida who sent a uniformed officer in a squad car to their home. The first thing you can imagine the officer asked was, ?What?s a domain??.

    Additionally financial restraints play a major role. Often times the rightful owners of these domains simply can?t justify the thousands of dollars in legal fees necessary to handle a case like this. Domains that don?t have the sort of value that a domain like P2P.com has in the aftermarket may still contain a value that only the original owner can appreciate. Good luck convincing a law enforcement professional that your domain name is valuable under those circumstances.
    Emphasis added - but aren't those final words so very true?
     

     Aug 03, 2009 - 10:41 AM - by Michael
    Segway Analysis
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Paul Graham offers an excellent analysis of why the Segway went over so poorly: it just plain weirds people out.

    Why do Segways provoke this reaction? The reason you look like a dork riding a Segway is that you look smug. You don't seem to be working hard enough.

    Someone riding a motorcycle isn't working any harder. But because he's sitting astride it, he seems to be making an effort. When you're riding a Segway you're just standing there. And someone who's being whisked along while seeming to do no work?someone in a sedan chair, for example?can't help but look smug.

    Try this thought experiment and it becomes clear: imagine something that worked like the Segway, but that you rode with one foot in front of the other, like a skateboard. That wouldn't seem nearly as uncool.
    They're also very limited in terms of practical use - short range, tough to lock up, and in need of a recharge socket when parked.
     

     Aug 03, 2009 - 10:41 AM - by Michael
    New HIV Strain
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    Personal Stuff/Random News HIV has a new strain - discovered in Cameroon.

    Scientists aren't currently sure how it popped up:

    The most likely explanation for the new find is gorilla-to-human transmission, Plantier's team said. But they added they cannot rule out the possibility that the new strain started in chimpanzees and moved into gorillas and then humans, or moved directly from chimpanzees to both gorillas and humans.

    The 62-year-old patient tested positive for HIV in 2004, shortly after moving to Paris from Cameroon, according to the researchers. She had lived near Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, but said she had no contact with apes or bush meat, a name often given to meat from wild animals in tropical countries.

    The woman currently shows no signs of AIDS and remains untreated, though she still carries the virus, the researchers said.
     

     Aug 03, 2009 - 10:37 AM - by Michael
    Apple gets nasty
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Apple have tried to pull a fast one - seeking gag orders on people who seek a refund for their exploding iPods.

    ?They?re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie?s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.

    ?We didn?t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,? he added.

    Last week it emerged that Apple had tried to keep a number of cases where its iPod digital music players had started to smoke, burst into flames and even burned their owners, out of the public eye.
    Apple, word to the wise: when you try this, people get mad and even more people hear about the cases.
     

     Aug 03, 2009 - 10:33 AM - by Michael
    Radio Shack to change name?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Word on the street is that Radio Shack is planning to rebrand itself as "The Shack."

    Given that they haven't offered much in the way of radios - or parts - in a couple decades, the rebranding of "Crap Shack" would probably be most appropriate, though "The Shack" probably isn't as offensive. I am reminded of a fantastic Onion piece on the company.

    1. Names people know are better than names they don?t. RadioShack is among the most familiar names in the country?it?s not only not a liability, but one of the company?s greatest assets. Name recognition beats name accuracy every time: Southwest Airlines is a national carrier, GQ stands for Gentleman?s Quarterly but is a monthly, and AT&T hasn?t lost its second T even though it stands for the obsolete ?Telegraph.? I?ve always admired the Boston-area chain Newbury Comics for keeping that name even though it?s been primarily a music retailer for most of its history. Then there?s my former employer, PC World, which has been smart enough to keep the ?PC? in its name and has outlived all of its principal print competitors.
     

     Jul 30, 2009 - 04:58 PM - by Michael
    NIMH
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    Personal Stuff/Random News As a fan of classic Don Bluth entertainment, I would be remiss if I did not furnish you, dear readers, with notice that The Secret of NIMH is available for full viewing, in widescreen glory, from Hulu.

    Enjoy!
     

     Jul 30, 2009 - 09:05 AM - by Michael
    Guitar Hero 5 Setlist
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Activision's put out the setlist for the upcoming Guitar Hero 5. Looks pretty dang good... hopefully they've finally cleaned up the last few annoyances in the interface (let's face it, the "touch bar" was just silly).

    Santa Monica, CA ? July 30, 2009 ? Guitar Hero today unveiled the final 15 tracks to be showcased in the epic 85 song set list in Guitar Hero? 5. Among the varied collection of current hits and classic artists are Johnny Cash?s ?Ring of Fire,? TV On The Radio?s ?Wolf Like Me,? Muse?s ?Plug In Baby,? Stevie Wonder?s classic ?Superstition? and Nirvana?s multi-award winning, chart-topping ?Smells Like Teen Spirit.? Also joining the set list in Guitar Hero 5 and making their music video game debut are Arctic Monkeys and Dire Straits.

    When Guitar Hero 5 ships on September 1, living room rock stars will be able to rock any way they want to the expansive set list including the pulse pounding tracks listed below:

    ? 3 Doors Down - ?Kryptonite?
    ? Arctic Monkeys - ?Brianstorm?
    ? Blink-182 - ?The Rock Show?
    ? Dire Straits - ?Sultans Of Swing?
    ? Jimmy Eat World - ?Bleed American?
    ? Johnny Cash - ?Ring Of Fire?
    ? Megadeth - ?Sweating Bullets?
    ? M?tley Cr?e - ?Looks That Kill?
    ? Muse - ?Plug In Baby?
    ? Nirvana - ?Smells Like Teen Spirit?
    ? Queen & David Bowie - ?Under Pressure?
    ? Stevie Wonder - ?Superstition?
    ? The Killers - ?All The Pretty Faces?
    ? The Raconteurs - ?Steady As She Goes?
    ? TV On The Radio - ?Wolf Like Me?

    Previously announced tracks include:

    ? A Perfect Circle - ?Judith?
    ? AFI - ?Medicate?
    ? Attack! Attack! UK - ?You And Me?
    ? Band Of Horses - ?Cigarettes, Wedding Bands?
    ? Beastie Boys - ?Gratitude?
    ? Beck - ?Gamma Ray?
    ? Billy Idol - ?Dancing With Myself?
    ? Billy Squier - ?Lonely Is The Night?
    ? Blur - ?Song 2?
    ? Bob Dylan - ?All Along The Watchtower?
    ? Bon Jovi - ?You Give Love A Bad Name?
    ? Brand New - ?Sowing Season (Yeah)?
    ? The Bronx - ?Six Days A Week?
    ? Bush - ?Comedown?
    ? Children Of Bodom - ?Done With Everything, Die For Nothing?
    ? Coldplay - ?In My Place?
    ? Darker My Love - ?Blue Day?
    ? Darkest Hour - ?Demon(s)?
    ? David Bowie - ?Fame?
    ? Deep Purple - ?Woman >From Tokyo ('99 Remix)?
    ? The Derek Trucks Band - ?Younk Funk?
    ? The Duke Spirit - ?Send A Little Love Token?
    ? Duran Duran - ?Hungry Like The Wolf?
    ? Eagles Of Death Metal - ?Wannabe In L.A.?
    ? Elliott Smith - ?L.A.?
    ? Elton John - ?Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)?
    ? Face To Face - ?Disconnected?
    ? Garbage - ?Only Happy When It Rains?
    ? Gorillaz - ?Feel Good Inc.?
    ? Gov't Mule - ?Streamline Woman?
    ? Grand Funk Railroad - ?We're An American Band?
    ? Iggy Pop - ?Lust For Life (Live)?
    ? Iron Maiden - ?2 Minutes To Midnight?
    ? Jeff Beck - ?Scatterbrain (Live)?
    ? John Mellencamp - ?Hurts So Good?
    ? Kaiser Chiefs - ?Never Miss A Beat?
    ? King Crimson - ?21st Century Schizoid Man?
    ? Kings Of Leon - ?Sex On Fire?
    ? Kiss - ?Shout It Out Loud?
    ? Love and Rockets - ?Mirror People?
    ? My Morning Jacket - ?One Big Holiday?
    ? Nirvana - ?Lithium (Live)?
    ? No Doubt - ?Ex-Girlfriend?
    ? Peter Frampton - ?Do You Feel Like We Do? (Live)?
    ? The Police - ?So Lonely?
    ? Public Enemy Featuring Zakk Wylde - ?Bring the Noise 20XX?
    ? Queens Of The Stone Age - ?Make It Wit Chu?
    ? Rammstein ? ?Du Hast?
    ? The Rolling Stones - ?Sympathy For The Devil?
    ? Rose Hill Drive - ?Sneak Out?
    ? Rush - ?The Spirit Of Radio (Live)?
    ? Santana - ?No One To Depend On (Live)?
    ? Scars On Broadway - ?They Say?
    ? Screaming Trees - ?Nearly Lost You?
    ? Smashing Pumpkins - ?Bullet With Butterfly Wings?
    ? Sonic Youth - ?Incinerate?
    ? Spacehog - ?In The Meantime?
    ? Sublime - ?What I Got?
    ? Sunny Day Real Estate - ?Seven?
    ? T. Rex - ?20th Century Boy?
    ? The Sword - ?Maiden, Mother & Crone?
    ? Thin Lizzy - ?Jailbreak?
    ? Thrice - ?Deadbolt?
    ? Tom Petty - ?Runnin' Down A Dream?
    ? Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - ?American Girl?
    ? Vampire Weekend - ?A-Punk?
    ? Weezer - ?Why Bother??
    ? The White Stripes - ?Blue Orchid?
    ? Wild Cherry - ?Play That Funky Music?
    ? Wolfmother - ?Back Round?

    The entire set list is at players? fingertips from the start, featuring genre-defining hits from some of the biggest rock artists and bands of all time, including The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Vampire Weekend. Players take complete control as Guitar Hero 5 allows gamers to personalize and customize how they experience music by being able to play with any controller combination -- multiple vocalists, guitarists, bassists and drummers, in any game mode. With the game?s all-new Party Play Mode, getting the band back together has never been easier. Players can now jump in or drop out of gameplay seamlessly, without interrupting their jam session. Elevating the Guitar Hero? series to new heights with unmatched social gameplay, an enhanced style, new in-game artists and more rock legends, Guitar Hero 5 features new surprises and challenges that will fire-up long-time fret board fanatics and create a new generation of addicts.

    Published by Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), Guitar Hero 5 is being developed by Neversoft Entertainment for Xbox 360? video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PLAYSTATION?3 computer entertainment system, and by Vicarious Visions for the Wii? system from Nintendo. Budcat is developing Guitar Hero 5 for the PlayStation?2 computer entertainment system. The game is rated ?T? for ?Teen? by the ESRB. For more information about Guitar Hero 5, please visit GH5.GuitarHero.com.
     

     Jul 27, 2009 - 08:18 AM - by Michael
    Mechacon
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Mechacon was absolutely jam-packed. In fact, so jam-packed that I'm just now getting back.

    Normal functions to resume post-sleep.
     

     Jul 19, 2009 - 09:41 PM - by Michael
    Video Games Live post-show
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    Personal Stuff/Random News What a night.

    Last year's show was stellar; this year's blew it away.

    The full review is coming but it'll take some time - far more photos to go through than last year's.

    Best shining moment of the night (and boy is it a toughie to pick): Tommy Tallarico leading the entire audience in an a capella singalong of the Super Mario Bros theme.
     

     Jul 15, 2009 - 01:54 PM - by Michael
    Video Games Live in Houston
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The itinerary for Gamer MusiCON 09 on July 18th (that's this coming Saturday) is in - this convention will feature TWO Video Games Live performances, one full of Blizzard music and one of the "traditional" VGL format. Gamer MusiCON 09 timeline:

    2:00
    Doors to Jones Hall Open
    Game Crazy Lobby Arcade begins
    Games Include:
    -Ps2---Dance Dance Revolution
    -XBOX 360---Halo
    -XBOX 360---Grid
    -Wii---Wii Sports
    -PS3---NCAA Football
    -XBOX 360---Guitar Hero World Tour
    -Game Cube---Mario Kart and Smash Bro?s.
    Location: lobby, all three levels Compete in the Guitar Hero competition. Winner performs on stage with the Houston Symphony in concert and receives an AMD laptop courtesy of DELL. Location: lobby, mezzanine level Register your email address for the raffle Winner receives a PSP at concert #2 Location: inside main front doors Merchandise and food/beverages sales open

    3:00
    Theater doors close for concert #1 Seating as per your ticketed location Late seating between selections

    3:00 ? 4:30
    Blizzard Live! concert

    4:30 ? 7:15
    Game Crazy Lobby Arcade, Guitar Hero competition, raffle entries, merchandise and food/beverage sales continue. Also:

    4:45 ? 5:45
    Behind the Scenes at Blizzard Entertainment Panel and Q&A with Blizzard game composers Location: inside the theater; general admission seating

    6:00 ? 7:00
    Behind the Scenes at Video Games Live Panel and Q&A with VGL creators Location: inside the theater; general admission seating

    7:00
    Costume contestants meet in Green Room

    7:15 Costume Contest on stage. Winner receives a $100 Game Crazy giftcard

    7:30
    Theater doors close for concert #2 Seating as per your ticketed location Late seating between selections

    7:30 ? 10:00
    Video Games Live! concert

    10:00 ? 11:00
    Post concert autographs
    Location: main lobby
    Merchandise sales open
    Location: main lobby

    All day passes begin at $50?please call the Houston Symphony Customer Service Center at (713) 224-7575 or online at www.houstonsymphony.org. For group sales call (713) 238-1435.

     

     Jul 14, 2009 - 08:46 AM - by Michael
    Apollo 11 tapes refurbished
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    Personal Stuff/Random News NASA's going to be rolling out a cleaned-up version of the Apollo 11 tapes shortly:

    NASA will hold a media briefing at 11 a.m. EDT on Thursday, July 16, at the Newseum in Washington to release greatly improved video imagery from the July 1969 live broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk.

    The release will feature 15 key moments from Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's historic moonwalk using what is believed to be the best available broadcast-format copies of the lunar excursion, some of which had been locked away for nearly 40 years. The initial video released Thursday is part of a comprehensive Apollo 11 moonwalk restoration project expected to be completed by the fall.
    That's one small step for man, one giant leap for film restoration.
     

     Jul 14, 2009 - 08:41 AM - by Michael
    Cats exploit humans?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The BBC says that yeah, your cat is manipulating you.

    I'm not too worried. As long as they still keep my feet warm on cold nights and enjoy chasing the Red Dot of Doom (laser pointer), I'm happy.
     

     Jul 08, 2009 - 03:44 PM - by Michael
    Thompson still at it
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Jack Thompson is cruising to get himself disbarred federally.

    Yes, that's right. He's going that far.

    "Wait," you're saying to yourself, "I thought Jack Thompson was already disbarred?"

    That's correct. But Thompson has maintained for some time that the disbarment order of the Florida Supreme Court applies only to the state court system. Thompson has even taken to including verbiage to that effect in the headings of his e-mails, like the one below:

    John B. Thompson, Juris Doctor
    Once and Future Attorney
    (address removed by GP)
    Only Admitted to Practice in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Not Admitted in Florida

    He apparently is really that insane.
     

     Jul 07, 2009 - 08:39 AM - by Michael
    It's in my veins!
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Say hello to the tiny robot in your veins: useful for microsurgery in the future, perhaps.

    A small cross sectional area on the tiny robot apparently allows fluids to flow with minimal interference making intra-vascular motion more feasible, and opening up the possibility of minimally invasive medical treatments, as well as diagnosis within the body. Researchers are also apparently toying with the idea of attaching miniscule cameras to the bot, as well as other "tools" it may need to perform internal surgery.
     

     Jul 07, 2009 - 08:33 AM - by Michael
    Siffy gets silly
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    Personal Stuff/Random News CNN covers Sci-Fi Network's name change to Siffy.

    Er, "Syfy."

    Yeah, it's that stupid. Then again, considering they've pretty much been "all stargate, all the time" for the past few years, no big loss.
     

     Jul 04, 2009 - 11:46 PM - by Michael
    Echo?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Wired covers the possibility of teaching humans to use echolocation:

    Most animals that use echolocation have organs that are specifically adapted to emit and receive sonar signals, but we humans have to rely on our rather clumsy mouth and ears. For instance, while dolphins use a special structure in their nose to generate up to 200 clicks per second, people can make only three or four clicks per second.

    echolocateBy studying the physical properties of the many different sounds the human mouth can produce, the Spanish researchers hope to maximize the power of human echolocation. In their latest study, published in a recent issue of the journal Acta Acustica united with Acustica, the group taught 10 of their students and colleagues to use basic echolocation. Then they compared different noises and clicks to determine the best type of sound for ?seeing? your surroundings.
    Interesting, if not for everyone.
     

     Jul 03, 2009 - 10:52 AM - by Michael
    Video Games Live for Summer
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Video Games Live is back for another year - and we'll be covering their mammoth event in Houston on the 18th:

    LOS ANGELES, CA - July 3, 2009 - The worldwide phenomenon Video Games Live (recently enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records) is proud to announce 12 performances throughout the month of July. Each show will be unique and many will be highlighted by special performances, conventions and/or special guests. Video Games Live has grown tremendously over the past 5 years of touring and currently has over 60 shows planned around the world for 2009.

    Some July tour highlights include a special 3 day gaming event in Winnipeg with the Winnipeg Symphony (July 6 - 8). The 3 day event includes 2 unique show performances and a half day festival event with Future Shop including a major Guitar Hero competition, special industry Q&A panel, video game cover bands, prize give-a-ways and more.

    On July 10th Video Games Live is honored to once again be performing with the National Symphony Orchestra. After 2 very successful sold out shows at the Kennedy Center in 2007, this time around they are headed to the 6,500+ seat WolfTrap Filene Center for a day of family fun and entertainment. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) will be on hand supporting Video Games Live and passing out important industry facts and information to attendees. Very special guests will include Civilization creator Sid Meier and the original Civilization IV vocalist Ron Ragin. Also joining the show is legendary game composer Grant Kirkhope who is best known for his scores for Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye, Banjo & Kazooie, Perfect Dark & Viva Pinata.

    On July 18th the Houston Symphony has teamed up with Video Games Live and Blizzard Entertainment to put on Gamer MusiCON 09 which will include an entire day of gaming activities (courtesy of Game Crazy) and TWO show performances. The first afternoon show entitled Blizzard Live! will be a special presentation showcasing Blizzard Entertainment titles including the Warcraft , StarCraft and Diablo series of games. Included in this event will also be a World Premiere of never before performed Blizzard music. Five Blizzard composers will be attending the event and participating in panel discussions as well as Q&A sessions and meet & greets with the audience. Halo composer Mike Salvatori will be making a special guest appearance a few days earlier at the Ft. Worth, TX performance taking place on July 14th.

    On July 23rd, Video Games Live once again returns to the San Diego Comic Con to perform with the San Diego Symphony on the waterfront behind the Convention Center at the beautiful outdoor Embarcadero Marina Park. Synchronized fireworks will be a part of the production as well as many special guests from around the world.

    VIDEO GAMES LIVE JULY TOUR DATES

  • July 6, 2009 (8pm) - Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall - Winnipeg Symphony
  • July 7, 2009 (6pm) - Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall - Special Festival Day
  • July 8, 2009 (8pm) - Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall - Winnipeg Symphony
  • July 10, 2009 (8:30pm) - Vienna, VA - Wolf Trap/Feline Center - National Symphony Orchestra
  • July 11, 2009 (8pm) - Pittsburgh, PA - Heinz Hall - Pittsburgh Symphony
  • July 12, 2009 (2:30pm) - Pittsburgh, PA - Heinz Hall - Pittsburgh Symphony
  • July 14, 2009 (8pm) - Ft. Worth/Dallas, TX - Bass Performance Hall - Ft. Worth Symphony
  • July 18, 2009 (3pm) - Houston, TX - Jones Hall - Blizzard Live! - Houston Symphony
  • July 18, 2009 (7:30pm) - Houston, TX - Jones Hall - Houston Symphony
  • July 23, 2009 (7:30pm) - San Diego, CA - Embarcadero Marina Park - San Diego Symphony
  • July 27, 2009 (8pm) - Cincinnati, OH - PNC Pavillion
  • July 31, 2009 (8pm) - Lewiston, NY - Artpark - Buffalo Philharmonic


    Complete tour dates, details and tickets are available here:
    http://www.videogameslive.com/index.php?s=dates
  •  

     Jul 02, 2009 - 10:58 PM - by Michael
    Minor break
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    Personal Stuff/Random News A minor health issue and much-needed vacation this last week; if you're in Canada, happy Canada Day, if you're in the US have a great 4th!
     

     Jun 28, 2009 - 09:56 PM - by Michael
    Transformers 2 Review
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Movie review time: Transformers 2.

    Let's put it this way: if you wanted a real Transformers movie, we probably have to wait for them to finally take the franchise away from Michael Baytard.

    In fact, this movie was the epitome of Baytarded. The plot made no sense. The script took established, revered characters (like Jetfire) and pissed all over them. They injected some of the worst characters we've ever seen (read: the Jar Jar Binks Twins) and gave them front-and-center time while leaving wonderful, deep characters like Ironhide to sit meaningless in the background.

    There was NO point to this movie and someone needs to slap Michael Baytard and take the franchise away from him.
     

     Jun 10, 2009 - 12:25 AM - by Michael
    Futurama returns
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Good news, everyone!

    Futurama's got another new lease on life - the DVD movies have done well enough that more episodes are being ordered.

     

     Jun 08, 2009 - 02:02 PM - by Michael
    Summer
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Yes, the usual summer slowdown's had its effect. E3? Well, it was trying - but the underlying theme seems to be either "well this is what we may have for you two years from now" or "here's another sequel to a game that wasn't very good to start with."

    Still working on Guitar Hero:Metallica. Double-pedal drumming is hard.

    Dragon's Lair II for Blu-Ray is breathtaking. Full review to come soon.

    Braid? It was intriguing. I almost wish there were more game to it, and some of the "world" mechanics were better than others. "Everything is backwards", indeed.
     

     May 29, 2009 - 12:15 PM - by Michael
    Please, secure your PC
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Security Fix tries to clue users in - let them know what might happen to a hacked PC:

    An infected PC potentially has great value to spammers and attackers beyond simply acting as a relay for junk e-mail. For example, compromised systems typically are harvested for e-mail addresses that will be sold and used in future phishing and spam attacks.

    An attacker doesn't need to compromise an Internet user's computer to wreak havoc with their identity and online life. A compromised Webmail account, for example, can yield a bounty of useful information because many people often will use the same e-mail address and password for multiple services. (Even if the victim uses different passwords at each service, usually those passwords can be reset as long as the attacker has access to the victim's inbox).
     

     May 26, 2009 - 07:57 AM - by Michael
    The Ethanol Scam
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Drive a car? Then you might want to see this businessweek article and call your congressman:

    Pushed into it by the corn growers' and ethanol refiners' lobbying organizations, today the EPA is starting to go through the public comment phase on increasing the level of ethanol in our gasoline from 10% to 15%. Time and time again we have heard from these groups, who now claim that there is zero scientific evidence that a 15% blend of ethanol would do any damage whatsoever if the mandate for ethanol were raised. As with all statements made by vested interests, few outsiders have actually taken the time to look and find out whether this statement was true.

    In fact, it's false.

    Not one mechanic I've spoken with said they would be comfortable with a 15% blend of ethanol in their personal car. However, most suggest that if the government moves the ethanol mandate to 15%, it will be the dawn of a new golden age for auto mechanics' income.
    [emphasis added]
    Yeah. It's like that. Call your Congresscritter and make some noise. And read page two well; he goes into detail on the number of ways "ethanol" blends do damage to your car's engine.
     

     May 26, 2009 - 07:45 AM - by Michael
    Shareware?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Gamasutra looks back in time with Tim Sweeney about things like the '90s Shareware revolution.

    Sad how that idea's been vanishing lately...

    At that time, Epic MegaGames -- as Sweeney's company was then called -- published some of the world's most popular and successful shareware games. Games like Jill of the Jungle, Jazz Jackrabbit, Epic Pinball, and others could be found in nearly every BBS file section across the U.S.

    And the game that started it all for Sweeney was ZZT. Released in 1991, ZZT is a text-based action/adventure/puzzle shareware title with a built-in game editor and scripting language. Think LittleBigPlanet in text. Sweeney's experiences with ZZT led directly to Epic's success with Unreal Engine, which inseparably integrates game engine and editor much in the same way ZZT did.
     

     May 18, 2009 - 03:24 PM - by Michael
    Beware the Fake IMAX
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    Personal Stuff/Random News There's one of these craphouses up in Houston - hiding in the AMC Gulf Pointe 30 in Houston - so Beware of the FAKE IMAX.

    Yep. IMAX have taken their brand and let some genuine craphouses like AMC use it, installing a "just a tad bigger than normal" screen and calling it an IMAX. The result? Pure Rip-Off.

    HOWEVER, we get in the theatre and its just a slightly bigger than normal screen and NOT the usual standard huge 72 ft IMAX screen. I was very upset and apparently this problem is happening all over at Regal and AMC theatres.

    ...

    If you don?t want the whole long story, I did some research online and found this article that explains it. Basically IMAX is whoring out their brand name and trying to trick people. These new ?IMAX? theatres are really just nice digital screens with good sound, but they ARE NOT IMAX, in that they don?t have the huge 72 ft gigantic screen which people would expect. However, they still charge $5 more for tickets as they would for the regular IMAX.
    The article he's pointing to is at this spot.

    I'm sticking to the REAL theater over at Edwards Marq*E in Houston for my IMAX viewing, because it's a real, full-sized IMAX screen with a real, full-quality IMAX audio system. The one hiding at AMC Gulf Point, much like the ones Aziz is wondering about, is a ripoff.
     

     May 18, 2009 - 11:11 AM - by Michael
    User Education: "Hard Drive"
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    Personal Stuff/Random News IT Wire has a basic rant: users who don't know what the term "hard drive" means.

    Several years ago I replaced a faulty hard drive on a server. I had a lady complain that nothing was faster, despite expecting it to be so. I asked why she was anticipating a change in performance and she replied, ?Didn?t you just change the hard drive??

    I didn?t twig just what she meant at the time. It took several more experiences with people telling me their ?hard drive? kept crashing (which concerned me greatly until I realised it was just Microsoft Word that was locking up) or even asking if they could bring in their ?hard drive? from home and have me fix up a few problems.

    Yes, you?ve guessed it, and no doubt you?ve heard it too. In each case they were referring to a computer. The girl in the first scenario assumed when I said I was replacing a hard disk I was commissioning a whole new server!
    Please, do your tech a favor. Learn the basic terms...
     

     May 18, 2009 - 08:28 AM - by Michael
    Linux and the Desktop
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an odd one - a Russian programmer explaining quite honestly why Linux isn't ready for the desktop (e.g. the average home desktop user).

    Despite english being his second language, he does a great job making a "what to fix" list that Linux developers, at least the ones who want to move Linux to the desktop arena, would be wise to listen to.
     

     May 14, 2009 - 02:23 PM - by Michael
    California Bankrupt
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The state of California (not to be confused with other states, such as Hopelessness and Ridiculousness) is actually holding a fire sale of historical buildings to try to raise revenue.

    I wish I were making this one up.
     

     May 13, 2009 - 01:33 PM - by Michael
    It's livin' in the Fridge
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Could it be Today?
     

     May 13, 2009 - 01:14 PM - by Michael
    "The Gambler" for Rock Band
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Yeah. It's gonna be Kinda like that.

     

     May 13, 2009 - 11:25 AM - by Michael
    Princess/Frog Poster
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Check out this poster.

    I'm serious. I've seen that crocodile somewhere before... I think he was happily munching down JAS Hook.
     

     May 12, 2009 - 02:43 PM - by Michael
    GPS Reversal
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    Personal Stuff/Random News I sense cases heading to the Supreme Court.

    New York has just ruled in opposition to the whole GPS-tracking thing that popped up earlier in the People's Republic of Wisconsin.

    Devoting much of his 20-page ruling to how new technology delves into a person's life, Lippman said: "What the technology yields and records with breathtaking quality and quantity, is a highly detailed profile, not simply of where we go, but by easy inference, of our associations ? political, religious, amicable and amorous, to name only a few ? and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits."

    "It would appear clear to us that the great popularity of GPS technology for its many useful applications, may not be taken simply as a massive, undifferentiated concession of personal privacy to agents of the state."
    Expect this to pop up in the Supreme Court in the next couple years... and hope that they aren't as senile on that particular day as they were last week when they invalidated our protections against identity theft.
     

     May 12, 2009 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
    Thief 4 coming
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Here's hoping they do it right - I was impressed with the way Thief 3 turned out.

    Thief 4 is on its way. That's the word from Eidos, anyways.
     

     May 12, 2009 - 11:26 AM - by Michael
    Square at it again
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Somebody at Squaresoft really hates the fans of the Chrono series: this is now the second time they've gone on the attack against people trying to continue it as fans.

    The first was what would have been an amazing remake.

    We thank those fans who followed the game's development, and also those who poured countless hours into the vision of a fun, new Chrono game, made by fans for fans without copyright claim or intent to make profit.

    We understand the frustration. I sincerely hope this action is a sign that Square Enix cares about the franchise and intends to produce future titles, and not merely a shortsighted legal exercise that will further alienate a tired, neglected fan-base.
    Sadly, I think it's the latter.
     

     May 11, 2009 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
    Max? Can you hear me?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Cone of Silence (yes, indeed) is getting another go-around:

    Instead of plastic domes, they use a sensor network to work out where potential eavesdroppers are, and speakers to generate a subtle masking sound at just the right level.

    It sounds simple, but it needs quite a bit of infrastructure. The walls of the room must be peppered with light-switch-sized units that include a microphone, a speaker, an infrared location sensor and networking circuitry connected to a server. When somebody wants to activate what the MIT researchers call the "sound shield", they do so on their desktop computer. Knowing the position of the computer, the sensors identify the person and map out the locations of people around them. Software assesses who is so close that they must be participants in the conversation, and who might be a potential eavesdropper.
    It'll be interesting to see how well it does when they get to the testing phase.
     

     May 11, 2009 - 06:00 AM - by Michael
    RIAA still lying
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    Personal Stuff/Random News In April 2008, the RIAA told Congress that they had discontinued new lawsuits.

    Despite this, they're still at it.

    Beware, folks.
     

     May 10, 2009 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
    Secret GPS tracking legal?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News In the People's Republic of Wisconsin, the police don't legally have to get a warrant to track your movement.

    I wish I was kidding.

    As the law currently stands, the court said police can mount GPS on cars to track people without violating their constitutional rights -- even if the drivers aren't suspects.

    Officers do not need to get warrants beforehand because GPS tracking does not involve a search or a seizure, Judge Paul Lundsten wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel based in Madison.

    That means "police are seemingly free to secretly track anyone's public movements with a GPS device," he wrote.
    Yeah. Welcome to 1984, folks.
     

     May 07, 2009 - 08:39 AM - by Michael
    Warp Drive?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News With the new Star Trek movie coming out, Space.com revisits ideas on warp drive.

    Earlier, there was conjecture that the inside of a warp bubble would be filled with Hawking radiation and become unstable.

    Of course, Space.com found some more upbeat people:

    Already some studies have claimed to find possible signatures of moving space-time. For example, scientists rotated super-cold rings in a lab. They found that still gyroscopes placed above the rings seem to think they themselves are rotating simply because of the presence of the spinning rings beneath. The researchers postulated that the ultra-cold rings were somehow dragging space-time, and the gyroscope was detecting the effect.

    Other studies found that the region between two parallel uncharged metal plates seems to have less energy than the surrounding space. Scientists have termed this a kind of "negative energy," which might be just the thing needed to move space-time.
     

     May 06, 2009 - 08:40 AM - by Michael
    Dom Deluise, RIP
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    Personal Stuff/Random News RIP, Dom Deluise.

    You'll be missed. But hopefully, you'll be able to organize a round of "the French Mistake" up there in heaven.

     

     May 04, 2009 - 11:33 PM - by Michael
    SVGE Postponed
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Seems to be a bit of this going on - the Southwest Video Game Expo, in Dallas, is being postponed:

    Dallas - May 1, 2009 - The Southwest Video Game Expo (SWGE) today announced it would be postponed due economic reasons. The show was to be the largest event of its kind in the Southwest showcasing new games for the holiday season from all the major publishers. This expo was to be held at the Dallas Convention Center from November 20-22, 2009. However with recent events forcing publishers to limit their budgets the management reconsidered SWGE's ability to put on the kind of show people would be excited to attend. Li-Fi, the consumer electronic side of SWGE was cancelled previously.

    "The management deeply regrets that the expo in Texas will not be happening in 2009 as we had planned," said Don Jennings, President of Li-Fi, Inc. "A poor economy mixed with a large number of other expos for publishers to attend has meant our show didn't perform the way we had hoped it would. We still hope someday to bring a large event like this to the Southwest, and are determined that it will be worth the wait."
     

     Apr 30, 2009 - 01:14 PM - by Michael
    Too good to pass up
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Bea Arthur takes on Sex and the City.

    Bea wins.
     

     Apr 29, 2009 - 02:55 PM - by Michael
    Stop weeds with hair?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Here's an interesting one - a product to stop weeds, made from human hair.

    You can buy circular mats of hair, measuring 6 to 14 inches, that you place around plant stems. Or you can buy the mats as a roll. The hair crowds out weeds, conserves water, and supplies nitrogen and micronutrients. Plant pathologists at the University of Florida have found the mats eliminate weeds better than leading herbicides.
    ...
    The hair mats are made in China. But not because of cheap labor. In China, hair is a commodity, used in wigs and even as an additive in food. While American barbers sweep hair into the trash, Chinese haircutters sell their trimmings to brokers. Blair Blacker says Chinese hair is also more nutrient rich because it's not as treated as Western hair. That means Smart Grow hair mats, which have the consistency of a soft brillo pad, come in just one color: black.
    I really can't add much - it's just too weird.
     

     Apr 29, 2009 - 08:40 AM - by Michael
    Cable Companies play real dirty
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Trying to stop Greenlight Inc and the possibility of *gasp* real competition in the ISP market, Embarq and Time Warner (the two monopolies Greenlight was created to deal with) are now breaking out the lies and push polls trying to smear them.

    Unfortunately for Greenlight Inc., Embarq and Time Warner Cable found out about this and realized that they would be competing against an ISP that was faster, more reliable and cheaper. So, the ISPs went to the North Carolina state senate and lobbied for legislation that would effectively either cripple or ban the service all together.
    ...
    Now, it seems that there is a report on there that says that the big ISPs are using push polling to gain support of H1252 in the city.

    ?Phones are ringing in Wilson. There?s a new poll about HB 1252 that is apparently designed with leading questions about municipal broadband.? Writes Brian, the writer of the blog. He continues, ?It includes questions that, as a friend put it, can?t possibly be answered correctly without siding with certain cable and or telco providers.?
    Time we do away with all these monopoly areas and restore competition to the marketplace. And if Time Warner can't compete, they should just go belly up.
     

     Apr 21, 2009 - 04:00 PM - by Michael
    Greedy Cable/Telcos
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The NY Times offers a great analysis of how nasty the Telcos/Cable companies are being about broadband in the US:

    Cable or telephone networks have little in common with a restaurant, the critics say, because there is no electronic equivalent of food to buy. If all Time Warner customers decided one day not to check their e-mail or download a single movie, the company?s costs would be no different than on a day when every customer was glued to the screen watching one YouTube video after another.

    ...

    ?All of our economics are based on engineering for the peak hour,? said Tony Werner, the chief technical officer of Comcast. ?Just because someone consumes more data doesn?t mean they drive more cost.?
    Emphasis added.

    Remember how this really works:
    - First they wanted to charge high-bandwidth sites (Google, Youtube, etc) for "access" to their network.
    - Then they tried to introduce "tiered" bandwidth, so they could extort Google/Youtube/etc into paying a bribe lest their traffic be interfered with.
    - Failing that, they now want to try to force people not to use broadband as much and go back to paying for the "Cable TV" and Pay-Per-View services. How do we know this? Because they even admit it to their customers.

    It's not about "filesharing." It's about degrading the internet service enough that you shy away from Youtube and Hulu, and turn back to the trough of 250 channel Cable TV.
     

     Apr 21, 2009 - 01:00 PM - by Michael
    More Fallout
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Bethesda's contracted Obsidian - staffed by a lot of former Fallout 1/2 programmers - to code up something called Fallout: New Vegas for them. No word on if it'll simply re-tread the Oblivion/Fallout 3 engine, but it's heavily implied.

    Following the surprise announcement of a new title so soon, the second surprise is that Bethesda is not developing the title. Instead, Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Knights of the Old Republic II and Neverwinter Nights II (and its expansions), will be working on New Vegas. Note, no art was released of this title, so take the above screen, and pretend it has more tacky neon signs.

    Bethesda Vice-President of PR and Marketing Pete Hines stressed, "This is not a sequel to Fallout 3, and this won't impact whatever Todd Howard and his group over at Bethesda Softworks are working on. This is just another Fallout title." He further elaborated that New Vegas is still an RPG, and will impart the same feel and experience as Fallout 3; "it won't be a different type of game like Fallout Tactics or Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel were," Hines commented.
     

     Apr 21, 2009 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
    BT Censors TPB
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Pirate Bay keeps getting into the news - now because British Telecom is censoring them:

    BT Mobile Broadband users who attempt to access the notorious BitTorrent tracker site are met with a "content blocked" message.

    The warning page states the page has been blocked in "compliance with a new UK voluntary code".
    Expect a lot more sites blocked if you're using BT.
     

     Apr 17, 2009 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
    Burning stuff with Bacon
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Smells delicious. Melts Steel!.

    It's a bacon sword. Yep. BACON. SWORD.

    Bacon is fattening because it contains a lot of chemical energy tied up in its proteins, and especially in its fat. You can release that energy either by digesting it or by burning it with a healthy supply of oxygen. The challenge isn't creating the heat; it's engineering a bacon structure strong enough to withstand the stress of a 5,000?F bacon plasma flame.
     

     Apr 17, 2009 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
    TPB show trial concludes?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The court in the Pirate Bay trial has issued a rather odd ruling - net result, a 1 year jail sentence, and a verdict guaranteed to be appealed.

    The verdict comes as Europe debates stricter rules to crack down on those who share content illegally on the Internet.

    Last week French legislators rejected a plan to cut off the Internet connections of people who illegally download music and films, but the government plans to resurrect the bill for another vote this month.

    Opponents said the legislation would represent a Big Brother intrusion on civil liberties, while the European Parliament last month adopted a nonbinding resolution that defines Internet access as an untouchable "fundamental freedom."
    And the saga continues...
     

     Apr 15, 2009 - 10:06 AM - by Michael
    Jack Thompson Flameout
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Now that he's disbarred and can't make a legal nuisance of himself, Jack Thompson is... making a legal nuisance of himself in other ways.

    That's right. He SPAMMED the Utah Senate after trying to get a law that was blatantly a violation of the First Amendment passed.

    It gets better... he might even get to see the State Attorney General in court over it if he keeps it up.

    It was part of his dogged campaign pressing Utah politicians to override the veto of a bill that would have increased penalties for retailers falsely advertising they would not sell mature video games to underage buyers.

    "I asked you before to remove me from your mailing list," Waddoups wrote Thompson. "I supported your bill but because of the harassment will not again. If I am not removed, I will turn you over to the AG for legal action."
    Countdown to Thompson's final flameout has begun.
     

     Apr 13, 2009 - 11:06 AM - by Michael
    Tom's vs Time Warner
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Tom's Hardware offers up a great reason why you should distrust Time Warner:

    At the time, Verizon and others were very vocal about net neutrality, especially when the U.S. government and FCC were looking into the matter. Verizon and others made it clear that net neutrality was much ado about nothing. They lied.

    Time Warner Cable, which provides Internet connectivity for millions is a big opposition to net neutrality. Alright, let's cut the bull: Time Warner Cable, which provides Internet connectivity for millions, wants to screw you.
    Yes, the quote is especially harsh - but the reality is that TW is trying to do, through a back door, the same thing they tried a while back with their extortion fees and "traffic prioritizing" - they want to shut down sites like Hulu or Youtube in order to force customers back to their pay-per-play Cable TV services.
     

     Apr 13, 2009 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
    Distributed bruteforce
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Looks like distributed bruteforce attacks are coming back:

    If you run a ssh service anywhere Internet-facing, you will be used to seeing a steady stream of failed logons for both existing and non-existing users. There's nothing new in seeing failed logons in your log files. However, what happened late last year was that we started seeing large numbers of failed ssh logon attempts, with the new twist that the same user would be trying to log on a large number of times, but never from the same place twice in rapid succession. This log data sample will give you an idea. The data will show you the pattern, as will the summary article.
    Doublecheck your system and stop your users from using stupid, easily-guessed passwords.
     

     Apr 12, 2009 - 08:02 PM - by Michael
    Law vs Time Warner
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Congress is starting to notice Time Warner's insidious plan to sock users in areas they've monopolized with low-bandwidth "tiered" access, and are considering making the practice illegal.

    Time Warner is just like the other big behemoths - they get a monopoly on an area, then jack the prices up. Rep. Massa of NY had this to say:

    "Time Warner's decision has the potential to more than triple customers' current rates, and I think most families will find this to be too taxing to afford," Massa said. "Time Warner believes they can do this in Rochester, N.Y.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and it's almost certainly just a matter of time before they attempt to overcharge all of their customers."
    Hooray for someone standing up to TW. Call your local representative and ask them to get on board with this legislation.
     

     Apr 12, 2009 - 03:22 PM - by Michael
    Going too far?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Negative Gamer offers up the opinion that "innovation" in gaming isn't what it should be.

    Gone are the days of fresh, yet simple ideas. In this day and age games are created with a very formulaic style. Does it play well? Better add some multiplayer. Is it too short? I don?t care what you need to do, make it last five more hours. There?s a critical problem with popular, mainstream video games that isn?t as large with other mediums; they are expensive to make and require a lot of time and effort put in to create something masterful.
    I have to agree - I've seen a lot of games, even a lot of sequels (looking at you, Super Smash Bros. series) wherein the "innovation" of titles became change for change's sake, and utterly destroyed game balance and playability in the process.

    Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
     

     Apr 09, 2009 - 06:51 AM - by Michael
    A legend passes
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Mr. Dave Arneson - co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and the creator of the concept of single-character fantasy gaming and campaign worlds, passed on Tuesday, April 7.

    There won't be as big a media outpouring this time, since Gary Gygax was always the "face" of D&D, but Mr. Arneson was the man who first sat players down and had them run a single player, describing their actions to a judge (the Chainmail system). He also created the concept of the campaign world, and wrote Blackmoor, which he had maintained up until his passing - I have local friends who are still playing it.

    Raise a glass, toss some dice, and give a little prayer however you believe - the gaming community has lost the very first DM.
     

     Apr 06, 2009 - 12:56 PM - by Michael
    Columnist fired for reviewing pirated movie
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    Personal Stuff/Random News It's news - but not in the way you'd think. "X-Men Origins:Wolverine" got pirated before its release (no surprise). A Fox News columnist reviewed it in a miniscule way, and then was canned for it.
     

     Apr 02, 2009 - 01:01 PM - by Michael
    Conficker eye chart
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Are you worried you're infected with Conficker? There's a simple test that may help.

    It's actually pretty nice the way it works.
     

     Apr 01, 2009 - 08:42 AM - by Michael
    Candidate for Darwin
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Chances are, by next year, this guy will get himself a Darwin Award.

    No, seriously. Driving a car while drunk? Stupid.

    Driving a gasoline-powered barstool scooter while drunk? It's a miracle he hasn't darwined himself already.
     

     Mar 30, 2009 - 02:39 PM - by Michael
    Vacations...
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Vacations are nice. Be back in a few more days.
     

     Mar 23, 2009 - 08:21 AM - by Michael
    Boom
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Alaska's Mount Redoubt is currently erupting. The observatory reports are nice, and there are some pretty spectacular pictures available at the current eruption report site as well as some of past eruptions.

    Check it out. You might find a cool new wallpaper or three for your desktop.
     

     Mar 20, 2009 - 09:53 AM - by Michael
    Elections stolen
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Wonder if this'll come up in Minnesota - Kentucky officials have been indicted for changing votes on electronic machines that have no paper trail...

    The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter
    fraud.
    Ouch.
     

     Mar 17, 2009 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
    Games of 2020
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Gamasutra asked its readers what the big games of 2020 would be: here's what they got.

    Entries were judged based on their strengths in concept, realism, and evolution of current gaming trends. It's expected that many of today's most popular genres will still thrive in the year 2020, after all, but the ways in which they are played could be quite different.

    For the purpose of the competition, we presumed that the most cutting-edge games of 2020 may feature many of the same mechanics of today's games, but would include different control methods and varying degrees of lifestyle integration.
    I can't entirely agree or disagree. The Wiimote is cute, but tends to be used more for gimmickry than for real gameplay innovation. If they could get it to be a lot more sensitive, then there might be more room for true innovation and/or immersion.

    And yes, I have tried attaching it to a 9-iron with some rubber bands to see how 'real' Wii Golf would be. The results were not encouraging.
     

     Mar 16, 2009 - 10:45 PM - by Michael
    Model Rocketeers Rejoice
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Model Rocketeers can crow - the Feds are finally not involved in their hobby.

    That's right, a judge FINALLY put down, decisively, the idiotic idea that little model rocket motors are "explosives" that need to be regulated.

    Do some good. Find some kids in your community (perhaps some Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts?), get them down to the local hobby store to buy some cheap rocket kits, dig up a launch pad and load up on motors, and then show them something really educational - their own creations flying towards the heavens.
     

     Mar 11, 2009 - 12:00 PM - by Michael
    Watchmen
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    Personal Stuff/Random News So I've been waiting a few days to let Watchmen sink in, and here are my impressions:

    #1 - this is about as good as any translation of the comic book form will ever get into film, folks.

    #2 - That being said, the nudity of Dr. Manhattan really was over the top, especially since the portrayal is kind of schizophrenic about when to clothe him and not.

    #3 - I don't agree with inserting a fight scene to the ending. It seems unnecessary, and definitely hurts the portrayal of two characters (Ozymandias and Rorschach) by the way they were rewritten for the ending.
     

     Mar 11, 2009 - 11:46 AM - by Michael
    Sanders Back for Revenge
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Japanese have finally gotten that statue of Col. Sanders out of the river.

    No, seriously. It was tossed in years ago by a bunch of drunken Japanese baseball fans.

    A statue of the KFC mascot has been found in a river in Osaka, a city official said Wednesday, nearly a quarter century after being tossed in by crazed baseball fans who felt the image of restaurant founder Harland Sanders resembled a key team member.
    Memo to Japanese baseball fans: tone it down on the sake a bit.
     

     Mar 11, 2009 - 09:20 AM - by Michael
    New Trek?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Writers are trying to make a new Star Trek TV series happen:

    In an interview with iF Magazine about Pushing Daisies, Fuller said:

    "I told my agent and told the people of J.J. Abrams' team I want to create another Star Trek series and have an idea that I?m kicking around. I would love to return to the spirit of the old series with the colours and attitude. I loved Voyager and Deep Space Nine, but they seem to have lost the ?60s fun and I would love to take it back to its origin."
    My personal favorite is DS9, and I ignore Voyager entirely. This guy's involvement with Voyager scares me.

    And having watched Enterprise, it got a LOT better in the last season once Berman/Braga had pretty much been removed in favor of better writers.

    But here's hoping... maybe the new Trek could be good.
     

     Mar 11, 2009 - 09:00 AM - by Michael
    Screwing Innovation?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News At Newswise, a pair of economists who say that the current copyright and patent setups harm, rather than encourage, innovation:

    The authors argue that license fees, regulations and patents are now so misused that they drive up the cost of creation and slow down the rate of diffusion of new ideas. Levine explains, "Most patents are not acquired by innovators hoping to protect their innovations from competitors in order to get a short term edge over the rest of the market. Most patents are obtained by large corporations who have built portfolios of patents for defense purposes, to prevent other people from suing them over patent violations."

    Boldrin and Levine promote a drastic reform of the patent system in their book. They propose the law should be restored to match the intent of the U.S. Constitution which states: Congress may "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries."
    Many of us have been saying this for years - copyright, especially, has gone so far that things are stolen from the public domain all the time, but nothing new has entered it in decades.
     

     Mar 05, 2009 - 10:44 AM - by Michael
    Jackson to try again?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Michael Jackson is about to try to stage a "comeback."

    Predictotron is currently set to "Trainwreck."
     

     Mar 01, 2009 - 03:04 PM - by Michael
    RIAA sued for sham lawsuits
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The RIAA (aka MafiAA) have been put under the legal microscope for their sham-lawsuit practices. Ray Beckerman's web site has an amazing document on the matter:

    As part of this campaign of their sham litigation program, the Record Company Counterclaim Defendants enhance the intimidation factor by actually filing suit in a number of instances with no prior warning. These suits are designed to attract media attention, and often do, as stories emerge of Record Company Counterclaim Defendants? suits against the elderly, disabled, technologically clueless, and other vulnerable victims. Many of these victims have no idea how to operate a computer, let alone how to install and use peer-to-peer networking software to exchange music they would not likely be listening to anyway. But actual innocence is rarely a consideration to the Record Company Counterclaim Defendants.
    I encourage everyone to read the PDF thoroughly. It's best for every consumer, and the music industry as a whole, to finally have the RIAA put in their place.
     

     Feb 28, 2009 - 11:09 PM - by Michael
    Bye, Paul Harvey
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Paul Harvey has passed on.

    Few words can express this one - he's a voice most Americans have heard, and moreover would instantly recognize even if they've only heard him once or twice.
     

     Feb 27, 2009 - 12:41 PM - by Michael
    Music Industry Blues
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    Personal Stuff/Random News As the Pirate Bay trial progresses, Torrentfreak offer up their analysis of everything the music industry is doing wrong:

    In other words: The ?it?s common sense? argument that the music industry is peddling in their attempt to tie the declining revenues to piracy, simply doesn?t hold. It is not as clear-cut as the industry believes; the true reason for the decline is something they are still unwilling to face, but will have to face sooner or later:

    The fact is that the music industry?s revenues have been artificially inflated for decades because of limited consumer options. The last 15 years of innovation have lifted those limitations, effectively leaving the music industry with an obsolete, defective business model of monopolized production technology, forced album bundling, and almost nonexistent competition in the realm of home entertainment.
    Amazing. Now if only this would get through to those that really need to hear it.
     

     Feb 26, 2009 - 05:57 PM - by Michael
    Yet another remake
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Early news reports have Warner Bros. remaking The Neverending Story.

    Uhm... yeah. I worry.
     

     Feb 25, 2009 - 05:15 PM - by Michael
    Welcome to Post-Apocalyptica
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Debate: are kids learning enough on how to survive the apocalypse and aftermath from video games?

    This fine news brought to you courtesy of The Onion, of course.
     

     Feb 25, 2009 - 08:12 AM - by Michael
    Not Atlantis, Sorry
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Google's had to come out and debunk another "Atlantis Found" rumor:

    One theory that's gained more traction is that these marks might be the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis. If that were the case, some of the city blocks would have to be over eight miles long - that's about fifty times the size of a city block in New York City (if you zoom in and use the measurement tool in Google Earth, you can do this comparison yourself).

    So what is it? The scientific explanation is a bit less exotic, but we think it's still pretty interesting: these marks are what we call "ship tracks." You see, it's actually quite hard to measure the depth of the ocean. Sunlight, lasers, and other electromagnetic radiation can travel less than 100 feet below the surface, yet the typical depth in the ocean is more than two and a half miles. Sound waves are more effective. By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process ? known as echosounding ? only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the "ship tracks." In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas ? likely an error ? making the tracks stand out more.
    Sorry, folks. You want to find Atlantis, you need to track down this guy first.
     

     Feb 20, 2009 - 09:09 AM - by Michael
    Stopping piracy by charging sane prices
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Valve's been making some interesting tests, trying out whether reducing prices boosts sales of games and reduces piracy.

    Oddly enough, it seems to have worked quite well.

    They also seem to finally "get it" that DRM and content restriction only hurts legitimate customers, and does nothing for piracy:

    Moving onto the hot-button issue of piracy, Newell says pricing is not the main problem. ?The pricing issue, I think, is really misleading,? he says. ?In the PC audience, these people are spending thousands of dollars on their PCs and their internet connectivity. They are perfectly happy to spend money, so that?s not the issue. But when it comes to the service, that?s where the pirates are way ahead of us.?

    He gave an example of wanting to own copies of the Dr. Who television series on DVD ? but being unable to legally do so, because it isn?t available in his region. When consumers are presented with such scenarios, pirates win out.

    Furthermore, Newell claims, techniques like DRM actually increase piracy, not decrease it. It puts more distance between content creators and their customers, which ends up disempowering the creators.
    Emphasis added.
     

     Feb 19, 2009 - 03:15 PM - by Michael
    PB asks: Please Stop Hacking
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Pirate Bay guys on trial have asked that hackers please please stop attacking their opponents' websites.

    More from PC Pro:

    ...in a gesture of support for the four men hackers have begun assaulting plaintiff websites, beginning with that of the The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

    The website was down for most of the day, replaced with a message that read: "The ruthless hunt conducted by the IFPI, Anti-Piracy Office, Warner Bros., and all the other companies with a pawn in the game has now resulted in a trial in which four innocent men are accused of copyright infringement...
    One would hope they listen - this just looks bad outside the courtroom.
     

     Feb 19, 2009 - 11:40 AM - by Michael
    Stress Relief
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Anybody want to blow up a few servers?
     

     Feb 18, 2009 - 02:36 PM - by Michael
    Spirit keeps going
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Over on Mars, NASA's "Spirit" rover will be able to keep going strong thanks to another lucky bit of wind:

    JPL's Jennifer Herman, a rover team engineer, found the first evidence for the new cleaning event in engineering data from the Martian day 1,812 of Spirit's mission on the Red Planet (Feb. 6, 2009) and confirmed it from the following two days' data. Before the event, dust buildup on the solar array had reached the point where only 25 percent of sunlight hitting the array was getting past the dust to be used by the photovoltaic cells. Afterwards, that increased to 28 percent.

    "It may not sound like a lot, but it is an important increase," Herman said.
    NASA needs a few more missions like these - ones that far outperform their original design specifications.
     

     Feb 16, 2009 - 02:16 PM - by Michael
    Now this is just weird
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Pick a sci-fi movie and ask yourself: does this fit?

    Designed for the Hudson Yard area of Manhattan, Eric Vergne?s Dystopian Farm aims to provide New York with a sustainable food source while creating a dynamic social space that integrates producers with consumers. Based upon the ?material logic of plant mechanics?, the biomorphic skyscraper is modeled after the plant cells of ferns and provides space for farms, residential areas, and markets. These organic structures will harness systems such as airoponic watering, nutrient technology and controlled lighting and CO2 levels to meet the food demands of future populations.

    In addition to infusing dense urban areas with CO2-consuming green spaces, Vergne envisions the structures as dynamically altering the fabric of city life: ?Through food production and consumption, this skyscraper sets up a fluctuation of varying densities and collections of people, bringing together different social and cultural groups, creating new and unforseen urban experiences that form and dissipate within the flux of city life.?
    I'm seeing visions of movies like Aeon Flux, really I am...
     

     Feb 13, 2009 - 03:18 PM - by Michael
    Onion Time
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Despondex. Check it out.

    This fake news brought to you by the fine newsmakers at The Onion.
     

     Feb 12, 2009 - 01:35 PM - by Michael
    MMR Vaccine Ruled Safe
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine has been ruled not to cause autism in the mammoth court case:

    The decision by three independent special masters is especially telling because the special court's rules did not require plaintiffs to prove their cases with scientific certainty -- all the parents needed to show was that a preponderance of the evidence, or "50 percent and a hair," supported their claims. The vaccine court effectively said today that the thousands of pending claims represented by the three test cases are on extremely shaky ground.

    In his ruling on one case, special master George Hastings said the parents of Michelle Cedillo -- who had charged that a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused their child to develop autism -- had "been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment."
    Please, have your kids vaccinated. And stop listening to people who have more boob cells than brain cells.
     

     Feb 11, 2009 - 10:20 AM - by Michael
    Parenting FTW
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Seriously, this guy's art is awesome.

    And he does it for his kids.
     

     Feb 10, 2009 - 08:43 PM - by Michael
    Games as Art
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Games-as-Art debate rages on... and over at Gamasutra, Brian Green offers up a compelling case on how games can become legitimate.

    We could sit around and hope for the best. Assuming that we don't fall victim to the fate comic books had to endure, we will eventually become an accepted part of life as the medium matures and old opponents retire from their crusades.

    A more proactive developer may choose to help preserve game history. By preserving game history we give context to our games and can demonstrate the long history of development.
    This point is key: far too many influential games are nigh unplayable merely because their original hardware and software bases (processor, operating system) are uncomfortably hard to come by. Try to get a working copy of the original Space Quest, as just one example of many...
     

     Feb 10, 2009 - 11:28 AM - by Michael
    Why your internet sucks
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Wall Street Journal has a great article on why Obama's "build more infrastructure" bits on US broadband access won't work: most Americans are stuck in monopoly or duopoly zones where they have no effective choice of competing ISP's.

    More fundamentally, nothing in the legislation would address the key reason that the U.S. lags so far behind other countries. This is that there is an effective broadband duopoly in the U.S., with most communities able to choose only between one cable company and one telecom carrier. It's this lack of competition, blessed by national, state and local politicians, that keeps prices up and services down.
    I have the choice of Comcrap, or Dialup. Feel free to email in your local list of choices to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
     

     Feb 09, 2009 - 09:36 AM - by Michael
    Kindle 2 coming
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    Personal Stuff/Random News According to the NY Times, we'll see an announcement on Amazon's Kindle 2 ebook-reader today.

    Keep your eyes peeled.
     

     Feb 09, 2009 - 09:34 AM - by Michael
    Dragon Poop
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    Personal Stuff/Random News I can describe this no other way. Namco/Bandai are fronting a game based on the Dragonball movie.

    This is beyond frightening. I cannot imagine (a) that they think the movie will be any good, and (b) that the game will possibly sell well.

    I mean seriously, a game based on this heaping steamer?
     

     Feb 02, 2009 - 12:38 PM - by Michael
    Road Sign Copycat
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The Zombies sign has been copycatted - this time saying "Raptors Ahead".

    I wonder what the next one will be...
     

     Jan 29, 2009 - 11:38 AM - by Michael
    Zombies!
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Somebody's police department really needs to get a sense of humor.
     

     Jan 29, 2009 - 09:52 AM - by Michael
    The Dwarf Comes Home
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Hooray for More Red Dwarf, even if just a little bit:

    Red Dwarf: Back to Earth will air on UKTV digital channel Dave over the Easter weekend.

    It will sit alongside two further new episodes ? the improvised Red Dwarf: Unplugged, which will feature the cast dealing with no sets, effects or autocue, and Red Dwarf: the Making of Back to Earth, a behind the scenes look at the new production.

    The new two-parter will begin a decade on from when the crew of the Red Dwarf were last seen, with a "shock development" throwing Rimmer, Lister, Cat and Kryten back to Earth.
     

     Jan 28, 2009 - 09:21 AM - by Michael
    Screwing up a classic
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    Personal Stuff/Random News Please let it not happen... but writers are currently working on a Blade Runner sequel.

    Yeah. It's like that.
     

     Jan 28, 2009 - 08:15 AM - by Michael
    Do Not Call actually enforced?
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    Personal Stuff/Random News The FTC just slapped two companies for violating the Do Not Call registry:

    According to the FTC's complaint, the Westga