University of Florida student Zachary Garcia was more than a little surprised to find out he was wanted for murder after Googling his name. It turns out the police were looking for a different man but had mistakenly used Garcia's photo. From the article: "Investigators originally released a driver's license photo of Zachary Garcia — spelled with an 'A' — but it was Zachery Garcia — spelled with an 'E'— who was charged in connection with the crime."
sinij writes "An EA insider has aired dirty laundry over what went wrong with Warhammer and what could this mean for the upcoming Bioware Star Wars MMORPG. Quoting: 'We shouldn't have released when we did, everyone knows it. The game wasn't done, but EA gave us a deadline and threatened the leaders of Mythic with pink slips. We slipped so many times, it had to go out. We sold more than a million boxes, and only had 300k subs a month later. Going down ever since. It's 'stable' now, but guess what? Even Dark Age and Ultima have more subs than we have. How great is that? Games almost a decade [old] make more money than our biggest project." The (unverified) insider, who calls himself EA Louse (named after the EA Spouse who brought to light the company's excessive crunchtime practices) says similar trouble is ahead for the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA has not commented yet. God of War creator David Jaffe has criticized the insider for having unrealistic expectations of working in the games industry.
Research by Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard, shows that a person's capacity for willpower and physical endurance increases if they perceive themselves as good or evil. "Evil" acts in particular give a person a large boost in physical strength. From the article: “'People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort,' Gray said. 'By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance.' Gray’s findings run counter to the notion that only those blessed with heightened willpower or self-control are capable of heroism, suggesting instead that simply attempting heroic deeds can confer personal power."
The Opposable Thumbs blog has an interview with Jerome McDonough of the University of Illinois, who is involved with the Preserving Virtual Worlds project. The goal of the project is to recognize video games as cultural artifacts and to make sure they're accessible by future generations. Here McDonough talks about some of the technical difficulties in doing so: "Take, for example, Star Raiders on the Atari 2600. If you're going to preserve this, you've got a couple of problems. The first is that it is on a cartridge that is designed to work on a particular system that is no longer manufactured. And as long as you've got a hardware dependency there, you're really not going to be able to preserve this material very long. What we have been looking at is how feasible is it for things that fundamentally all have some level of hardware dependency there — even Doom has dependencies on DLLs with an operating system, and on particular chipsets and architectures for playing. How do you take that and turn it into something that isn't as dependent on a particular physical piece of hardware. And to do that, you need information about that platform. You need technical specifications that allow you to basically reproduce a virtualization that may enable you to run the software in its original form in the future. So what we're trying to do is preserve not only the games, but preserve the knowledge that you would need to create a virtualization platform to play the game."
Working on the assumption that the Insane Clown Posse's song Miracles was indeed a tribute to the wonder of nature and not the cleverest troll ever, some folks from the hackerspace Noisebridge decided to try and educate ICP fans. Surprisingly, most of the fans seemed to enjoy the science lesson, but representatives of the band didn't seem to think it was funny.
theodp writes "A third-grader in a small Texas school district received a week's detention for merely possessing a Jolly Rancher. Leighann Adair, 10, was eating lunch Monday when a teacher confiscated the candy. Her parents said she was in tears when she arrived home later that afternoon and handed them the detention notice. But school officials are defending the sentence, saying the school was abiding by a state guideline that banned 'minimal nutrition' foods. 'Whether or not I agree with the guidelines, we have to follow the rules,' said school superintendent Jack Ellis."
azoblue passes along a story in the Washington Post, which begins: "NASA's Mars Meteorite Research Team reopened a 14-year-old controversy on extraterrestrial life last week, reaffirming and offering support for its widely challenged assertion that a 4-billion-year-old meteorite that landed thousands of years ago on Antarctica shows evidence of microscopic life on Mars. In addition to presenting research that they said disproved some of their critics, the scientists reported that additional Martian meteorites appear to house distinct and identifiable microbial fossils that point even more strongly to the existence of life. 'We feel more confident than ever that Mars probably once was, and maybe still is, home to life,' team leader David McKay said at a NASA-sponsored conference on astrobiology."
Blizzard announced today that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first game in a series of three, will be released on July 27. The game will contain the Terran campaign (29 missions), the full multiplayer experience, and "several challenge-mode mini-games," with "focused goals designed to ease players into the basics of multiplayer strategies." It will launch alongside the revamped Battle.net, which we've previously discussed. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said, "We've been looking forward to revisiting the StarCraft universe for many years, and we're excited that the time for that is almost here. Thanks to our beta testers, we're making great progress on the final stages of development, and we'll be ready to welcome players all over the world to StarCraft II and the new Battle.net in just a few months."
theodp writes "Despite the whiff of danger, or perhaps because of it, the WSJ reports that the City Museum is one of St. Louis's most popular attractions. Housed in a 10-story brick building, the City Museum shows none of the restraint or quiet typical of most museums. It boasts a five-story jungle gym with two real-life jets kids can climb on, an enclosed Monster Slide that drops riders the length of three staircases, and a rooftop Ferris wheel. Sure, there are the occasional severed fingers and skull fractures, but museum founder Bob Cassilly contends that it is as safe as it can be without being a bore. 'They [lawyers] are taking the fun out of life,' says Cassilly, adding that 'when you have millions of people do something, something's going to happen no matter what you do.'"
kkleiner writes "It was only two months ago that we saw Mike Dobson's Cube Stormer Lego robot that could solve any 3x3 Rubik's cube in less than 12 seconds. You would think that there was only one person in the world crazy enough and talented enough to pull this off, but now we have found someone else that is just as amazing. The latest Rubik's cube-solving Lego monstrosity is called the MultiCuber, and although it's constructed out of nothing but Mindstorms components and a laptop, it can solve 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, and 5×5 cubes all in the same build! As if that weren't enough, a larger version solves the dreaded 6×6 Rubik's. We discovered the MultiCuber when its creator, David Gilday (IAssemble), wrote us an email to brag about its puzzle-solving might. Consider us impressed, sir."
An unnamed man flying from Nigeria to New York City found out he was added to a no-fly list somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, when the plane stopped to refuel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Officials won't say what he did or why he was added to the list after he had already boarded a flight. He was not immediately charged with a crime and Customs and Border Protection will only say that he is a "potential person of interest." From the article: "The man, a citizen of Gambia, was not on the no-fly list when he boarded the aircraft in Dakar, Senegal, said a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly."
Phaethon360 writes "Now, more than ever, we're seeing many Mature ratings (M+, 17+, 18) being distributed by various national media regulators. But that isn't the only indicator for a game's intended audience. It doesn't take a thousand swear words, scantily clad women or gratuitous violence to differentiate a ten-year-old's game from a twenty-year-old's. The spectrum of human emotions encompasses a wider palette than just revenge, fear, and loss, but the games that shy away from these are frequently mistaken as being for a younger audience. From the article: 'The human experience is one that is made up of great hardship, pain, loss, death, and a multitude of experiences seemingly designed to destroy a person. However, that same experience is also filled with joy, love, laughter, family and friends. ... These so-called “grown-up” games need not be relegated to the category of niche gaming. In fact, at times we find that these video games are capable of reaching mass popularity among the gaming community. It is here that we find one of our generation’s outlets for the expression of conflict.'"
eldavojohn writes "I have a slightly older friend who played through the glory days of Ultima Online. Yes, their servers are still up and running, but he often waxes nostalgic about certain gameplay functions of UO that he misses. I must say that these aspects make me smile and wonder what it would be like to play in such a world — things like housing, thieving and looting that you don't see in the most popular massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft. So, I've followed him through a few games, including Darkfall and now Mortal Online. And these (seemingly European developed) games are constantly fading into obscurity and never catching hold. We constantly move from one to the next. Does anyone know of a popular three-dimensional game that has UO-like rules and gameplay? Perhaps one that UO players gravitated to after leaving UO? If you think that the very things that have been removed (housing and thieving would be two good topics) caused WoW to become the most popular MMO, why is that? Do UO rules not translate well to a true 3D environment? Are people incapable of planning for corpse looting? Are players really that inept that developers don't want to leave us in control of risk analysis? I'm familiar with the Bartle Test but if anyone could point me to more resources as to why Killer-oriented games have faded out of popularity, I'd be interested."
darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking to reduce the deadly impact of helicopter crashes on their pilots and passengers with what the agency calls a high-tech honeycomb airbag known as a deployable energy absorber. So in order to test out its technology NASA dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet to see whether its deployable energy absorber, made up of an expandable honeycomb cushion, could handle the stress. The test crash hit the ground at about 54MPH at a 33 degree angle, what NASA called a relatively severe helicopter crash."