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The Almighty Buck

Submission + - SPAM: Bank of the people, local government bank.

Exception Duck writes: This sounds like a great idea too me, coming from a country where the banks have pretty much ruined everything — and we have had to bail them out. How about power to the people again. Screw the bankers, and nationalize it (this case ownership in the hands of the city). I've haven't read similiar stories but they don't go to load — can imagine it's not to popular with the powers that be. Anyone have any experience of this from their local government ?
Link to Original Source

The Murky Origins of Zork's Name 70

mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Duke Nukem Forever Not Dead? (Yes, This Again) 195

kaychoro writes "There may be hope for Duke Nukem Forever (again). 'Jon St. John, better known as the voice of Duke Nukem, said some interesting words during a panel discussion at the Music and Games Festival (MAGFest) that took place January 1 – 4 in Alexandria, Virginia, according to Pixel Enemy. Answering a question from the crowd regarding DNF, St. John said: "... let me go ahead and tell you right now that I'm not allowed to talk about Duke Nukem Forever. No, no, don't be disappointed, read between the lines — why am I not allowed to talk about it?"'"
The Internet

Wikipedia Disputes Editor Exodus Claims 207

eldavojohn writes "The Wikimedia blog has a new post from Erik Moeller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and Erik Zachte, a data analyst, to dispute recent reports about editors leaving Wikipedia (which we discussed on Wednesday). They offer these points to discredit the claims: 'The number of people reading Wikipedia continues to grow. In October, we had 344 million unique visitors from around the world, according to comScore Media Metrix, up 6% from September. Wikipedia is the fifth most popular web property in the world. The number of articles in Wikipedia keeps growing. There are about 14.4 million articles in Wikipedia, with thousands of new ones added every day. The number of people writing Wikipedia peaked about two and a half years ago, declined slightly for a brief period, and has remained stable since then. Every month, some people stop writing, and every month, they are replaced by new people." They also note that it's impossible to tell whether someone has left and will never return, as their account still remains there."

Submission + - Has sci-fi run out of steam? ( 1

Barence writes: Science fiction has long inspired real-world technology, but have the authors of sci-fi stories finally run out of steam? PC Pro has traced the history of sci-fi's influence on real-world technology, from Jules Verne to Snow Crash, but suggests that writers have run out of ideas when it comes to inspiring tomorrow's products. "Since Snow Crash, no novel has had quite the same impact on the computing world, and you might argue that sci-fi and hi-tech are drifting further apart," PC Pro claims. Author Charles Stross tells the magazine that he began writing a sci-fi novel in 2005 and "made some predictions, thinking that in ten years they’d either be laughable or they’d have come true. The weird bit? Most of them came true already, by 2009!”

Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks May Be Illegal 398

Anonymusing writes "The FDA has announced an investigation into the safety and legality of alcoholic beverages containing caffeine. As a Wall Street Journal blog reports, two major beer companies, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, stopped producing caffeinated alcoholic drinks last year after reports surfaced of increased negative effects compared to caffeine-free alcohol. CNN notes that, according to FDA rules, 'food additives require premarket approval based on data demonstrating safety submitted to the agency' — and caffeine is a food additive. The 26 targeted beverage makers have 30 days to respond."
The Media

In Britain, Better Not Call It Bogus Science 754

Geoffrey.landis writes 'In Britain, libel laws are censoring the ability of journalists to write stories about bogus science. Simon Singh, a Ph.D. physicist and author of several best-selling popular-science books, is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for saying that there is no evidence for claims that visiting a chiropractor has health benefits. A year earlier, writer Ben Goldacre faced a libel suit for an article critical of Matthias Rath, who claimed that vitamin supplements can treat HIV and AIDS in place of conventional drugs like anti-retrovirals. In Britain, libel laws don't have any presumption of innocence — any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true. Journalists are running scared.'

HR 3200 Considered As Software 296

bfwebster writes "Independent of one's personal opinions regarding the desirability and forms of government-mandated health care reform, there exists the question of how well HR 3200 (or any other legislation) will actually achieve that end and what the unintended (or even intended) consequences may be. There are striking similarities between crafting software and creating legislation, including risks and pitfalls — except that those risks and pitfalls are greater in legislation. I've written an article (first of a three-part series) examining those parallels and how these apply to HR 3200."
The Internet

Wikipedia To Require Editing Approval 453

The NY Times reports on an epochal move by Wikipedia — within weeks, the formerly freewheeling encyclopedia will begin requiring editor approval for all edits to articles about living people. "The new feature, called 'flagged revisions,' will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia's servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version. ... The new editing procedures... have been applied to the entire German-language version of Wikipedia during the last year... Although Wikipedia has prevented anonymous users from creating new articles for several years now, the new flagging system crosses a psychological Rubicon. It will divide Wikipedia's contributors into two classes — experienced, trusted editors, and everyone else — altering Wikipedia's implicit notion that everyone has an equal right to edit entries."
Input Devices

Windows 7 Igniting Touchscreen PC Market 257

ericatcw writes "Apple Inc. may still be coy about whether it plans to launch a touch-screen tablet computer this year, but Windows PC makers are forging right ahead. In the past three weeks, five leading PC makers have announced or been reported to confirm plans to release touch-screen PCs in time for the multi-touch-enabled Windows 7, reports Computerworld. Many appear to be using technology from New Zealand optical touch vendor, NextWindow, which already supplies HP's market-leading TouchSmart line, and Dell's Studio One. NextWindow's CEO says the company is working with partners on 8-10 products set for launch within two months, in time for Windows 7's October 22nd release."

Mario AI Competition 110

togelius writes "We're running a competition to see who can program the best AI for a version of Super Mario Bros. It's about deciding what to do at each time step — run, jump, shoot etc. — based on a description of the platforms, items and enemies around Mario. This is hard. It's so hard we believe that some sort of machine learning algorithm will be necessary to reach good playing performance. But really, any approach is fair game. We welcome hard-coded submissions, commercial AI programmers, academics and amateurs alike. Whoever wins, it will be really interesting. The competition is associated with two IEEE conferences, and there are cash prizes available for the best submissions."
The Media

Censorship Struggle Underway In Iceland 251

jon jonson writes "Information from the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing has been leaked to WikiLeaks, revealing billions in insider loans, and the bank has been working day and night to censor the information contained in the document. Last night at 6:55pm GMT, they served an injunction against the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, five minutes before the 7pm news was due to be aired. The TV station just displayed the WikiLeaks URL instead. They've also injuncted Iceland's national radio, banning all discussion about the contents of the document, and they are actively trying to censor the rest of the Icelandic media along with WikiLeaks."

NASA Uses AI Customer Service Robot In Second Life 45

Linguo writes "Fusing human psychology with an advanced artificial intelligence engine, MyCyberTwin's virtual humans are being used by organizations like NASA and National Australia Bank to improve their customer support levels. MyCyberTwin technology is designed to allow almost anyone to build a virtual, artificial human — called a CyberTwin — which can handle such tasks as personalized customer support, client sales or even entertainment and companionship. CyberTwins can take the form of a clone of yourself, or a representative of your company, and they can live in almost any digital environment, including Web sites, virtual worlds, blogs, social network pages and mobile phones."

PC Invader Costs a Kentucky County $415,000 192

plover recommends a detailed account by Brian Krebs in the Washington Post's Security Fix column of a complex hack and con job resulting in the theft of $415,000 from Bullitt County, Kentucky. "The crooks were aided by more than two dozen co-conspirators in the United States, as well as a strain of malicious software capable of defeating online security measures put in place by many banks. ...the trouble began on June 22, when someone started making unauthorized wire transfers of $10,000 or less from the county's payroll to accounts belonging to at least 25 individuals around the country... [T]he criminals stole the money using a custom variant of a keystroke logging Trojan known as 'Zeus' (a.k.a. 'Zbot') that included two new features. The first is that stolen credentials are sent immediately via instant message to the attackers. But the second, more interesting feature of this malware... is that it creates a direct connection between the infected Microsoft Windows system and the attackers, allowing the bad guys to log in to the victim's bank account using the victim's own Internet connection."

Pirate Party Coming To Canada 394

An anonymous reader writes "After scoring a surprise electoral win in Sweden and getting high-profile support in Germany, The Pirate Party is coming to Canada. The party's goals are fairly simple. People should have the right to share and copy music, movies and virtually any material, as long as it is for personal use, not for profit. It opposes government and corporate monitoring of Internet activities, unless as part of a criminal investigation. It also wants to phase out patents."

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson