writes: Blizzard appears to be under investigation in Korea, France and Germany over Diablo III requiring an "always connected" internet connection to play. The limitations on being unable to onsell or return Diablo III and the lack of capacity on Battle.Net have caught the attention of consumer advocacy groups who are preparing for potential class action lawsuits. Who knew that piracy could potentially cost a game publisher less than legal settlements?Link to Original Source
writes: Microsoft today unveiled its newest piece of technology; The Surface Tablet, a tablet computer meant to challenge the popular Ipad computers created by Apple. The company showed off a tablet that is about the same weight and thickness as an iPad, with a 10.6-inch screen. "The device has a built-in “kickstand” that allows it to be propped up for watching movies, and a thin detachable cover that will serve double duty as a keyboard." The tablet will run a version of Microsoft 8 with the intention of companion hardware being used for innovations on the product. The presentation of the new tablet was to the way in which Apple traditionally opens a new product; giving the media only a few days notice and withholding the exact location of the announcement until only hours before presenting. The announcement thus far has not affected Microsoft stock.Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes: Even since the current world’s tallest builing – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – was completed, there has been a constant battle to build the world’s next tallest building. The current record holder stands tall at 828 meters and took five years to build, but a Chinese company called Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) aims to smash that record by building the 838 meter Sky City tower, in Changsa, China in a mere 90 days. BSB plans to use prefab building techniques to construct the tower in record time.Link to Original Source
writes: Revelations by The New York Times that President Barack Obama in his role as commander in chief ordered the Stuxnet cyberattack against Iran's uranium-enrichment facility two years ago in cahoots with Israel is generating controversy, with Washington in an uproar over national-security leaks. But the important question is whether this covert action of sabotage against Iran, the first known major cyberattack authorized by a U.S. president, is the right course for the country to take. Are secret cyberattacks helping the U.S. solve geopolitical problems or actually making things worse? Bruce Schneier, whose most recent book is "Liars and Outliers," argues the U.S. made a mistake with Stuxnet, and he discusses why it's important for the world to tackle cyber-arms control now.Link to Original Source
writes: Drug tests spot banned substances based on their chemical structures, but a new breed of narcotics is designed to evade such tests. These synthetic marijuana drugs, found in "herbal incense," are mere chemical tweaks of each other, allowing them to escape detection each time researchers develop a new test for one of the compounds. Now chemists have developed a method that can screen for multiple designer drugs at once, without knowing their structures. The test may help law enforcement crack down on the substances.
The researchers used a technique called "mass defect filtering," which can detect related compounds all at once. That's because related compounds have almost equal numbers to the right of the decimal point in their molecular masses.
The researchers tested their technique on 32 herbal products with names like "Mr. Nice Guy" and "Hot Hawaiian." They found that every product contained one or more synthetic cannabinoid; all told, they identified nine different compounds in them — two illegal ones and seven that are not regulated.
The news story appears in Chemical & Engineering News and the original paper is (behind a paywall) in Analytical Chemistry.Link to Original Source
writes: A GAO report shows that "The government handles more than $1 trillion a year in contracts and grants. Washington needs to assign a unique number to each one of them, to track all the businesses and other entities it deals with. For more than three decades, it has turned to one company — Dun & Bradstreet — for its numbering needs." The article goes on to say "the government is now spending roughly $19 million a year on the system that cost just $1 million annually one decade ago."
The database only contains 625,000 entries, how many better ways are there to store this same amount of data?Link to Original Source
writes: Android's Face Unlock security on the Samsung Galaxy S3 can be tricked into unlocking the phone by showing it a photograph of the owner.
In a test carried out by IBTimes UK, we found that the Galaxy S3 cannot distinguish between a photograph and a real person, leading us to suggest users should select a more secure way of locking the phone, such as with a PIN or password.Link to Original Source
writes: After more than 14,000 votes by Linux users and efforts by Brian Fargo, Unity 3D has added Linux support to their popular game engine. Starting with Unity 4.0, Linux will be supported as a publishing platform allowing Unity games to be played natively on Linux. Only standalone desktop games will be supported initially. There is no word on Linux support for game editor and web player.Link to Original Source
writes: Film makers keep touting increased frame per second rate as improving viewing and cinema experience, however the number of theaters who actually support the equipment that can play the higher rate film. It makes me wonder if this is in the real interest of creating a better experience and art, or if it is a ploy by the media manufacturers to sell more expensive equipment and drive ticket prices up.Link to Original Source
writes: A star has been found with an over-sized debris ring that's difficult to reconcile with current star system models. I expect that there will be a natural phenomenon behind it but just once I want to see "artificial" as the only explanation for something like this.Link to Original Source
writes: A lot of Australian gamers are saying,"Finally." as legislation passes parliament to support the introduction of an R-18+ category for games.
writes: Tokyo police have arrested six men, including two IT executives and one former tech exec, in connection with an Android malware campaign that netted $265,000. The men created a piece of Android malware that they disguised as a video player and distributed through an adult website. The app stole personal information and attempted to extort money for data "protection services." The malware doesn't appear to be particularly sophisticated, but it convinced more than 200 horny Japanese dudes to shell out $1200 each. And the arrests are one of, if not the, first time a major police force brought down criminals who used Android malware to extort a significant chunk of cash.Link to Original Source
writes: Andrew Gallagher at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has improved the standard approach to automated jigsaw solving by copying what humans do in finding groups of pieces that best match and working outwards from there.
With a speed of 10,000 pieces per 24 hours it can solve large puzzles. Not only that but the type of jigsaw it solves is more difficult than the usual in that the pieces are square and can be placed in any orientation. It is so good it can even solve problems consisting of a number of mixed up puzzles without being told how many or their dimensions.
Of course as well as having fun beating humans at another recreational pastime the technique could be used to unscramble shredded documents as per the recent Darpa challenge.Link to Original Source
writes: Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers. The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material. YouTube had also rejected many other state's requests for action. Overall, Google summed it had received 461 court orders covering a total of 6,989 items between July and December 2011. From those, it said 68% of the orders were complied with. Google added that it had received a further 546 informal requests covering 4,925 items, of which it had agreed to 43% of the cases. The BBC article lists some examples of videos that were either terminated or allowed to stay.
An anonymous reader writes: Nearly 15 years of debate over digital copyright reform will come to an
end today as Bill C-11, the fourth legislative attempt at Canadian
copyright reform, passes in the House of Commons. Many participants in
debate view the bill with great
disappointment, pointing to the government's decision to adopt
restrictive digital lock rules as a signal that their views were
ignored. Despite the loss on digital locks, the "Canadian copyfight"
led to some dramatic
changes to Canadian copyright with some important wins for
Canadians who spoke out on copyright. The government expanded fair
dealing and added provisions on time shifting, format shifting,
backup copies, and user generated content in response to public
pressure. It also included a cap on statutory damages, expanded
education exceptions, and rejected SOPA-style amendments.Link to Original Source
writes: You may recall from last week the news item concerning FunnyJunk's extortion ... er ... threat of defamation lawsuit against The Oatmeal highlighting a fairly pervasive problem of rehosting content — in this case web comics. Instead of expediting a payment of $20,000 to FunnyJunk, Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal decided to crowd source the money (with 8 days left he has only garnered 900% of his goal) and donate it to charity after sending a picture of it to FunnyJunk. Charles Carreon (the man who has FunnyJunk) has made statements of Inman like 'I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails.' In an interview with Matthew Inman's not so favorite news site Carreon says 'So someone takes one of my letters and takes it apart. That doesn’t mean you can just declare netwar, that doesn’t mean you can encourage people to hack my website, to brute force my WordPress installation so I have to change my password. You can’t encourage people to violate my trademark and violate my twitter name and associate me with incompetence with stupidity, and douchebaggery. And if that’s where the world is going I will fight with every ounce of force in this 5’11 180 pound frame against it. I’ve got the energy, and I’ve got the time.' Well it appears that Carreon has filed suit over these matters alleging 'trademark infringement and incitement to cyber-vandalism.' Speaking of douchebaggery, Charles Carreon curiously fails to mention that he first incited all of his users to harass The Oatmeal anyway they can which they dutifully did. One last juicy detail is that Carreon is also suing the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society to which Inman's crowd sourced money is going. Luckily, Inman's lawyer appears to be fully competent and able to address Carreon's complaints.Link to Original Source
writes: Governments are sticking their noses into Google's servers more than ever before. In the second half of 2011, Google received 6,321 requests that it hand over its users’ private data to U.S. government agencies including law enforcement, and complied at least partially with those requests in 93% of cases, according to the latest update to the company’s bi-annual Transparency Report.
That’s up from 5,950 requests in the first half of 2011, and marks a 37% increase in the number of requests over the same period the year before. Compared with the second half of 2009, the first time Google released the government request numbers, the latest figures represent a 76% spike. Data demands from foreign governments have increased even more quickly than those from the U.S., up to 11,936 in the second half of 2011 compared with 9,600 in the same period the year before, though Google was much less likely to comply with those non-U.S. government requests.Link to Original Source