Today EA Maxis announced the beginning of a development contest for their new Spore API. They're calling on players to submit useful and interesting apps and widgets, and they've provided samples to show the kinds of ideas they're looking for. The samples include an update list for creations by game buddies, a creature dueling app, a creature tournament app, and a variety of viewers.
adeelarshad82 writes "CNet reports on a bizarre comment from Sony's Computer Entertainment CEO in response to complaints from developers on how hard it is to develop games for the Playstation 3. 'We don't provide the "easy to program for" console that (developers) want, because "easy to program for" means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is, what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?' Given that games heavily drive console sales, and the fact that the PS3 is already 8 million units behind the Xbox 360, I think making a developer's job harder is the last thing Sony needs."
CWmike writes "The blogosphere regularly excoriates Microsoft for being a monopoly, but Google may be in the cross-hairs of the nation's next anti-trust chief for monopolistic behavior, writes Preston Gralla. Last June, Christine A. Varney, President Obama's nominee to be the next antitrust chief, warned that Google already had a monopoly in online advertising. 'For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem,' Varney said at a June 19 panel discussion sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute, according to a Bloomberg report. The US economy will 'continually see a problem — potentially with Google' because it already 'has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising.' Varney has yet to be confirmed as antitrust chief, and she said all this before she was nominated. Still, it spells potentially bad news for Google. It may be time for the company to start adding to its legal staff."
An anonymous reader writes "The software company where I work has an Innovation and Knowledge program that encourages workers to provide ideas for new products and suggestions to improve the work place, productivity or welfare. The ideas and suggestions are evaluated by a board that decides whether they should be implemented or not. The group of workers with more ideas participates in a raffle to receive a prize. I would like to know what other programs people have seen like this and how they differ. What is the best way to encourage workers to suggest new products to be made / researched by the company?"
willclem writes "According to Reuters, it seems that Cuba has launched its own variation of Linux in order to fulfill its government's desire to replace Microsoft operating systems. 'Getting greater control over the informatic process is an important issue,' said Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes, who heads a commission pushing Cuba's migration to free software."
Mike writes "The Author's Guild claims that the new Kindle's text-to-speech software is illegal, stating that 'They don't have the right to read a book out loud,' said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. 'That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.' Forget for a moment that text-to-speech doesn't copy an existing work. And forget the odd notion that the artificial enunciation of plain text is equivalent to a person's nuanced and emotive reading. The Guild's claim is that even to read out loud is a production akin to an illegal copy, or a public performance."
Paul Ohm is starting a new "very occasional" feature on the Freedom To Tinker blog called You Are Not a Lawyer — "In this series, I will try to disabuse computer scientists and other technically minded people of some commonly held misconceptions about the law (and the legal system)." In the first installment, Ohm walks through the reasons why many techies' faith in the presence of "reasonable doubt" is so misplaced. "When techies think about criminal law, and in particular crimes committed online, they tend to fixate on [the 'beyond a reasonable doubt'] legal standard, dreaming up ways people can use technology to inject doubt into the evidence to avoid being convicted. I can't count how many conversations I have had with techies about things like the 'open wireless access point defense,' the 'trojaned computer defense,' the 'NAT-ted firewall defense,' and the 'dynamic IP address defense.' ... People who place stock in these theories and tools are neglecting an important drawback. There are another set of legal standards — the legal standards governing search and seizure — you should worry about long before you ever get to 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'"
Barence writes "Microsoft's decision to limit Windows 7 Starter Edition to running only three concurrent applications could force up the price of netbooks as many manufacturers opt for the more expensive Home Premium. The three-app rule includes applications running in the background but excludes antivirus, and the company claims most users wouldn't be affected by the limit. 'We ran a study which suggested that the average consumer has open just over two applications [at any time]. We would expect the limit of three applications wouldn't affect very many people.' However, Microsoft told journalists at last year's Professional Developers Conference that 70% of Windows users have between eight and 15 windows open at any one time."
Cornwallis writes "I'm trying to save money for a local government agency I work for by writing a policy statement to support the idea of adopting open data standards and/or Open Source software in order to contain IT expenses (by reducing licensing costs). I am thinking something along the lines of supporting open standards by not locking in to long term software contracts so that departments could be freed to adopt an alternative OS and/or desktop suite if this would work for the individual department. The idea is to unlock the stranglehold that proprietary software may have on the department IT budget. Have any of you written policy statements along these lines, and would you be willing to share? I'm not saying this would be for everybody, nor replace everything, just be an option to help my beleaguered agency in rough times."
An anonymous reader writes "PGP and GnuPG have been utilizing webs of trust to establish authenticity without a centralized certificate authority for a while. Now, a new tool seeks to extend the concept to include scientific publications. The idea is that researchers can review and sign each others' works with varying levels of endorsement, and display the signed reviews with their vitas. This creates a decentralized social network linking researchers, papers, and reviews that, in theory, represents the scientific community. It meshes seamlessly with traditional publication venues. One can publish a paper with an established journal, and still try to get more out of the paper by asking colleagues to review the work. The hope is that this will eventually provide an alternative method for researchers to establish credibility."
spirit_fingers writes "I'm the IT manager for a west coast design company that has a small branch office in Beijing with 5 employees, a few workstations and a couple of servers. Recently, it came to my attention that the Beijing office has been routinely installing and using pirated software on their computers — MS Office and Adobe Creative Suite, mostly. We're very buttoned up about being legal with our software here at the home office, and I consider it unprofessional and risky for our Beijing office to be engaging in this practice. When I called the local office manager on this, he shrugged and replied, 'Well, every other shop here does it.' So I was wondering if there are any IT manager Slashdotters here in the the US who may have experienced something similar with their colleagues in APAC, and how they handle a situation like this." Click the link for more of this reader's thoughts on the subject.
Soychemist writes "Some people have a mutation that makes them highly resistant to HIV, and scientists think that they can give that immunity to anyone with a new type of gene therapy. The first human trials will start at the University of Pennsylvania this week. Researchers will draw blood from people with drug-resistant HIV, clip the CCR5 gene out of their T-cells with a nuclease enzyme, grow the modified cells in a dish, and then return 10 billion of them to the patient's bloodstream. Those cells will be immune to the virus, and they will keep the patient's T-cell count up even if the rest are destroyed. 'We will see if it is safe and if those cells inhibit HIV replication in vivo,' said the lead researcher. 'We know they do in the test tube.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A prolific blogger is warning of a possible security hole in the latest beta version of Windows 7. Long Zheng has posted both a description and a proof of concept for an issue that could allow an attacker to skirt the User Account Control component in the new version of Windows. The problem, explains Zheng, is that UAC itself is controlled through system settings. This can allow an attacker to completely disable the protections without user notification. Zheng notes that the issue can be easily fixed by changing the UAC setting to notify users when Windows settings are altered, and that Microsoft could remedy the problem by prompting the user when the UAC setting is altered."
KentuckyFC writes "In a truly frightening study, physicists at the University of Oxford have identified a massive miscalculation that makes the LHC safety assurances more or less invalid (abstract). The focus of their work is not the safety of particle accelerators per se but the chances of any particular scientific argument being wrong. 'If the probability estimate given by an argument is dwarfed by the chance that the argument itself is flawed, then the estimate is suspect,' say the team. That has serious implications for the LHC, which some people worry could generate black holes that will swallow the planet. Nobody at CERN has put a figure on the chances of the LHC destroying the planet. One study simply said: 'there is no risk of any significance whatsoever from such black holes.' The danger is that this thinking could be entirely flawed, but what are the chances of this? The Oxford team say that roughly one in a thousand scientific papers have to be withdrawn because of errors but generously suppose that in particle physics, the rate is one in 10,000."
The Narrative Fallacy writes "In the aftermath of disclosures that Belkin employees paid users for good reviews on Amazon, David Pogue reports in the NYTimes that Carbonite has gone one better with 5-star reviews of its online backup services written by its own employees. Pogue recounts how Bruce Goldensteinberg signed up for the backup service, and all went well until his computer crashed and he was unable to restore it from the online backup while Carbonite customer support kept him on hold for over an hour. Frustrated, Goldensteinberg started reading Carbonite reviews on Amazon and a few of them seemed suspicious. 'They were created around the same date — October 31, 2006 — all given 5 stars, and the reviewers all came from around the Boston, MA area, where Carbonite is located,' including a review by Swami Kumaresan that read more like a testimonial. 'It turned out that Swami Kumaresan is the Vice President of Marketing for Carbonite. His review gives no indication that he is employed by the company.' Another review posted by Jonathan F. Freidin extols Carbonite without mentioning Freidin's position as Senior Software Engineer at Carbonite. 'It doesn't matter to me that Carbonite's fraudulent reviews are a couple of years old,' writes Pogue. 'These people are gaming the system, deceiving the public to enrich themselves. They should be deeply ashamed.'"