An anonymous reader writes "While much of the scrutiny following the lone gunman-perpetrated massacres at Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT has fallen on the National Rifle Association and its lobbying efforts against gun control, the shooters in both of the aforementioned incidents seemed to have been encouraged by violence in movies and video games. The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica reported last week that investigators of the Newtown case found a huge spreadsheet in the Lanza home where 20-year old Adam Lanza had methodically charted hundreds of past gun massacres, including the number of people killed and the make and model of weapons used. A Connecticut policeman told Lupica 'it sounded like a doctoral thesis, that was the quality of the research', and added, '[Mass killers such as Lanza] don't believe this was just a spreadsheet. They believe it was a score sheet. This was the work of a video gamer'. In response, the Entertainment Software Association and other lobbyists representing the video game industry have ramped up their Washington lobbying efforts. While still tiny in dollar terms next to the NRA's warchest, this effort seemed to help derail a proposal to fund a Justice Department study of the effects of video games on gun violence, offered as an amendment on the gun control bill by a Republican senator. A spokesman summarized the ESA's position: 'Extensive research has already been conducted and found no connection between media and real-life violence.'"
FhnuZoag writes "Eurogamer has an expose of the shady world of games developers licensing guns. From the article: '"We must be paid a royalty fee — either a one-time payment or a percentage of sales, all negotiable. Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price for the agreement. [...] We want to know explicitly how the rifle is to be used, ensuring that we are shown in a positive light... Such as the 'good guys' using the rifle," says [Barett Rifles'] Vaughn.'"
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes "With the announcement of Verizon's "six strikes plan" for movie pirates (which includes reporting users to the RIAA and MPAA), and content companies continuing to sue users en masse for peer-to-peer downloads, I think it's inevitable that we'll see the rise of p2p software that proxifies your downloads through other users. In this model, you would not only download content from other users, but you also use other users' machines as anonymizing proxies for the downloads, which would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer. This would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs for the identities of end users and taking those users to court." Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes with some strong cautions on a Facebook "feature" that lets you search for random phone numbers and find the accounts of users who have registered that number on their Facebook profile. This has privacy implications that are more serious than searching by email address. Especially in light of the expanding emphasis that Facebook is putting both on search qua search and on serving as a VoIP intermediary (not to mention the stream of robocalls that the FCC is unable to stop), this might make you think twice about where your phone number ends up. Read on for Bennett's description of the problem and some possible solutions.
That's basically the one which made me only sign petitions for the troll factor from then on.
I took these petitions seriously once. ONCE.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his explanation of how an improved algorithm on the White House's petition-creation site could do away with Death Star petitions and even improve on the existing serious ones. Read on below for his modest proposal on that front.
They just announced to all potential "deranged gunmen" that they shouldn't use the "active shooter" phrases on the internet, or cover their tracks if they do so. Good job.
An anonymous reader writes "Russian firm ElcomSoft on Thursday announced the release of Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor (EFDD), a new forensic tool that can reportedly access information stored in disks and volumes encrypted with desktop and portable versions of BitLocker, PGP, and TrueCrypt. EFDD runs on all 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, as well as Windows 2003 and Windows Server 2008." All that for $300.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are apparently sharing a secret blacklist of domain names such that any mention of these domains will cause a message to be bounced back to the sender as spam. I found out about this because — surprise! — some of my new proxy site domains ended up on the blacklist. Hotmail and Yahoo are stonewalling, but here's what I've dug up so far — and why you should care." Read on for much more on how Bennett figured out what's going on, and why it's a hard problem to solve.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his favorite novelty science gift items for 2012. Levitation engines, puzzles, optical illusions brought to life, and all of the tips and tricks he's found for getting the products to work correctly. Decorative, whimsical, and not too expensive — except for the items that have earned it by being pretty amazing. Read on for the details, and be sure to mention other good possibilities (Just 14 shopping days left until Christmas) in the comments below.
Slashdot regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "My last article on prediction markets contained an erroneous assumption, one whose implications are far-reaching enough that they deserve their own article. (And if you read to the end, I'm offering $100 to be split between the readers who submit the best alternative solution or the best counter-argument to the points made here.)" Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
jbernardo writes "After all the indie, multi-platform (including 4 for android) and DRM free releases, the latest Humble Bundle release is a polarizing one. It features non-indie games, it is Windows only, and the games are saddled with DRM. There is already a very vocal discussion on the Humble Bundle Google+ thread, but it seems it is selling well."
Bennett Haselton writes: "Online political futures betting is in a legal limbo in the United States. But with the lifting of legal sanctions, and with the addition of one simple new feature, online futures betting could not only provide more accurate forecasts of the merits of different candidates, but also provide a tool for quieting partisan blowhards who think the opposing party's candidate is going to drag the country to hell. Let the blowhards bet!" You'll find the rest of Bennett's story below.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: After I sent 10 new proxy sites to my (confirmed-opt-in) mailing list, two of them ended up on one of Spamhaus's blacklists, and as a result, all 10 domains were disabled by the domain registrar, so the sites disappeared from the Web. Did you even know this could happen?"