Colonel Korn writes "In 2006, CNET editor James Kim and his family were lost in a snowstorm in Oregon. After several days without food or heat James set out on foot to find a phone signal. His family was rescued, but James died of exposure. Upon hearing the story, semi-retired electrical engineer John Wilbur, designer of some of the first coin operated video games, the first WYSIWYG graphics card for Apple computers, and first solid state disk for PCs, began looking for an answer.
People get lost and die a lot more than you might expect: last year there were about a thousand search and rescue cases in Oregon alone, leading to about a hundred deaths. John realized that a key problem was the difficulty of efficiently finding a phone signal when you're standing in a dead zone and he came up with a software solution, which he's coupled with unpowered, cordless hardware that gives a 15 dB increase in signal strength to make dead zones useable. The hardware and software are being sold under the brand DOTS911 and are up on Kickstarter now."Link to Original Source
Colonel Korn writes "Ubisoft's recent announcement that upcoming games would require a constant internet connection in order to play has been discussed at length on Slashdot ("The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work"). Many were of the opinion that this new, more demanding DRM would have effectiveness to match its inconvenience, at least financially justifying its use. Others assumed that it would be immediately cracked, as is usually the case, leaving the inconvenience for paying customers and resulting in a superior product for pirates. As usual, the latter group was right. Though Ubisoft won't yet admit it, Skid-Row managed to crack the new DRM less than a day after it was first released."Link to Original Source
Colonel Korn writes "The Seattle PI Blog is reporting that a soon to be published Game Informer survey finally shows the failure rate of XBOX 360s: 54%! The survey also shows the rates of failure for the PS3 (11%) and Wii (7%). Impressively, only 4% of respondents said they wouldn't buy a new 360 because of hardware failures."
Colonel Korn writes "Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain writes in an Op-Ed to the New York Times that the seemingly inevitable move toward the often locked-down cloud is stifling innovation and threatening our privacy:
"And many software developers who once would have been writing whatever they wanted for PCs are simply developing less adventurous, less subversive, less game-changing code under the watchful eyes of Facebook and Apple.
If the market settles into a handful of gated cloud communities whose proprietors control the availability of new code, the time may come to ensure that their platforms do not discriminate. Such a demand could take many forms, from an outright regulatory requirement to a more subtle set of incentives — tax breaks or liability relief — that nudge companies to maintain the kind of openness that earlier allowed them a level playing field on which they could lure users from competing, mighty incumbents.
We've only just begun to measure this problem, even as we fly directly into the cloud. That's not a reason to turn around. But we must make sure the cloud does not hinder the creation of revolutionary software that, like the Web itself, can seem esoteric at first but utterly necessary later.""