Eric writes "After over a year of development, Minecraft has hit Beta status today. Minecraft was developed for about a week before its public release on May 17, 2009. With the new milestone, the price of the game has increased to €14.95; when Minecraft moves beyond beta status, it will sell for €20.00. The beta is more focused on polish and content. The aim is to add proper modding support via a stable API, some kind of non-intrusive narrative to help drive the game experience early on, and a late-game goal. Updates will be less frequent, so as to make sure stability is maintained thanks to more extended testing. Despite this, there have already been two beta releases: client and server Beta 1.0 followed quickly by client 1.0_01."
itwbennett writes "It's one of those questions that really should never come up, but as blogger Peter Smith points out, Stephen Toulouse, the head of Xbox Live enforcement, is used to fielding all sorts of strange questions. Recently, one of those questions was apparently 'Can I use a Swastika as my logo in Call of Duty: Black Ops?' When Toulouse responded with the obvious answer ('No, of course you can't, we'll ban you.') he was met with some pushback by people he refers to as 'contrarians' and 'internet pundits' who decided to educate him on the long and storied history of the swastika as a symbol of good fortune and how just because the Nazis used it, it doesn't make the symbol itself a bad thing. Toulouse covers the topic on his blog in a post titled Context and it's an interesting read if for no other reason than to get a peek inside the day-to-day issues the Xbox Live Enforcement team deals with."
Dog owners can sleep easy tonight because physicists have discovered how rapidly a wet dog should oscillate its body to dry its fur. Presumably, dogs already know. From the article: "Today we have an answer thanks to the pioneering work of Andrew Dickerson at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a few buddies. But more than that, their work generates an interesting new conundrum about the nature of shaken fur dynamics. Dickerson and co filmed a number of dogs shaking their fur and used the images to measure the period of oscillation of the dogs' skin. For a labrador retriever, this turns out to be 4.3 Hz."
schliz writes "An Australian man has been served a restraining order via Facebook, after unsuccessful attempts by police to reach him by phone and in person. The man was a 'prolific Facebook user' who had allegedly threatened, bullied and harassed a former partner online. He was served both interim and final intervention orders by Facebook, after a local magistrate upheld the interim order indefinitely."
It turns out the soy-based wire covering on cars built after 2002 is irresistible to rodents. Nobody knows this better than those unlucky enough to park at DIA's Pikes Peak lot. The rabbits surrounding the area have been using the lot as an all-you-can-eat wiring buffet. Looks like it's time to break out The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
eldavojohn writes "You might recall back in June when it was noted that North Korea was developing and exporting flash games. Now, the isolated nation state is apparently home to some game developers that are being published by a subsidiary of News Corp. (The games include Big Lebowski Bowling and Men In Black). Nosotek Joint Venture Company is treading on thin ice in the eyes of a few academics and specialists that claim the Fox News owner is 'working against US policy.' Concerns grow over the potential influx of cash, creating better programmers that are then leveraged into cyberwarfare capabilities. Nosotek said that 'training them to do games can't bring any harm.' The company asserts its innocence, though details on how much of the games were developed in North Korea are sparse. While one of the poorest nations in the world could clearly use the money, it remains to be seen if hardliner opponents like the United States will treat Nosotek (and parent company News Corp.) as if they're fostering the development of computer programmers inside the DPRK. The United Nations only stipulates that cash exchanged with companies in the DPRK cannot go to companies and businesses associated with military weaponry or the arms trade. Would you feel differently about Big Lebowski Bowling if you knew it was created in North Korea?"
Lanxon writes "Music lovers can now be immortalized when they die by having their ashes baked into vinyl records to leave behind for loved ones, reports Wired. A UK company called And Vinyly is offering people the chance to press their ashes in a vinyl recording of their own voice, their favorite tunes or their last will and testament. Minimalist audiophiles might want to go for the simple option of having no tunes or voiceover, and simply pressing the ashes into the vinyl to result in pops and crackles."
According to Russian political scientist, and conspiracy aficionado Andrei Areshev the high heat, and poor crop yields of Russia, and other Central Asian countries may be the result of a climate weapon created by the US military. From the article: "... Areshev voiced suspicions about the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), funded by the US Defense Department and the University of Alaska. HAARP, which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection. Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction 'in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries.'"
suraj.sun writes "It's the same old story: young woman quits, uses dry erase board and series of pictures to let entire office know the boss is a sexist pig, exposes his love of playing FarmVille during work hours." Story seem too good to be true? It probably is, at least according to writer Peter Kafka. Even so, Jay Leno and Good Morning America have already reached out to "Jenny."
A study authored by Christopher Nave, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, says that our personalities stay pretty much the same from early childhood all the way through old age. From the article: "Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (grades 1 - 6) in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later. They examined four personality attributes - talkativeness (called verbal fluency), adaptability (cope well with new situations), impulsiveness and self-minimizing behavior (essentially being humble to the point of minimizing one's importance)." This must explain my overriding need to be first captain when we pick kickball teams at the office.
Gary Phebus wants to donate his heart, lungs, and liver. The problem is he wants to donate them before he dies. Gary was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2008. Phebus says he'd like to be able to donate his organs before they deteriorate, and doesn't consider his request suicide because he's "dead anyway."
fergus07 writes "Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent."
An anonymous reader writes "The much-anticipated, much-mocked 18-button joystick mouse from WarMouse is now shipping. The press release features an impressive set of user quotes from game designer Chris Taylor, new SFWA president John Scalzi, and a doctor who runs a medical software company. Crazy or not, it's obviously more than just a gaming mouse."
An anonymous reader writes "Aaron Ardiri challenged himself to port his classic PalmOS version of Lemmings to the iPhone, Palm Pre, Mac, and Windows. The porting was done using his own dev environment, which creates native C versions of the game. He liveblogged the whole thing, and finished after only 36 hours with an iPhone version and a Palm Pre version awaiting submission, and free versions for Windows and Mac available on his site."
An anonymous reader passes along this excerpt from Gamesradar about EVE Online's Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a group of elected player representatives that serve to facilitate communications between the developers and the community: "On the last day, the devs announced that after the earlier discussions about improving the CSM’s ability to effect change, the CSM was being raised to the status of its own department within CCP. This is revolutionary; in one swift move, the CSM went from what could be considered a glorified focus group to what CCP considers to be a 'stakeholder' in the company, given equal consideration with every other department in requesting development time for a project. That means the CSM — and the entire playerbase it represents — has as much influence on development projects as Marketing, Accounting, Publicity and all the other teams outside of the development team. This is, of course, the stated intention. But has any developer gone to such lengths for its fans?"