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Cellphones

iPhone 1.1.3 Update Confirmed, Breaks Apps and Unlocks 412

Posted by Zonk
from the peak-into-the-itech-future dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gizmodo has gathered conclusive evidence which confirms that the iPhone Firmware 1.1.3 update is 100% real. It installs only from iTunes using the obligatory Apple private encryption key, which nobody has. The list of new features, like GPS-like triangulation positioning in Google Maps, has been confirmed too. Apparently it will be coming out next week, but there's bad news as expected: it breaks the unlocks, patches the previous vulnerabilities used by hackers and takes away all your third-party applications."
Music

RIAA Now Filing Suits Against Consumers Who Rip CDs 403

Posted by Zonk
from the because-we-needed-another-reason-to-be-cranky-at-them dept.
mrneutron2003 writes "With this past week's announcement by Warner to release its entire catalog to Amazon in MP3 format with no Digital Rights Management, you would think that the organization that represents them, The RIAA, would begin changing its tune. Instead, they are pressing on in their campaign against consumers by suing individuals who merely rip CDs they've purchased legally. 'The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.'"
Quickies

+ - GPS Helps Cities Catch Goof-Offs->

Submitted by
Tech.Luver
Tech.Luver writes "GPS tracking devices installed on government-issue vehicles are helping communities around the country reduce waste and abuse, in part by catching employees shopping, working out at the gym or otherwise loafing while on the clock. The use of GPS has led to firings, stoking complaints from employees and unions that the devices are intrusive, Big Brother technology. But city officials say that monitoring employees' movements has deterred abuses, saving the taxpayers money in gasoline and lost productivity. "We can't have public resources being used on private activities. That's Management 101," Phil Nolan, supervisor of the Long Island town of Islip. Islip saved nearly 14,000 gallons of gas over a three-month period from the previous year after GPS devices were installed. Nolan said that shows that employees know they are being watched and are no longer using Islip's 614 official vehicles for personal business. ( http://techluver.com/2007/11/15/gps-helps-cities-catch-goof-offs-ap-report/ )"
Link to Original Source
PC Games (Games)

+ - Level Design For Games

Submitted by
Aeonite
Aeonite writes "As a content writer I was not heavily involved in the level design process at my last game industry job, but Phil Co's level design For Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences accompanied me to work every day. Not only is it a good introduction to the world of level design, but it also provides an excellent overview of the entire game design process.

In the past I've been rather verbose when reviewing books about game design, as I wished to provide evidence that justified the often less than stellar score I gave the book in question. I'm pleased that I don't have to do that with this book, which as far as I can tell is a nearly flawless introduction to level design. As such, this review will be more of a recap, so as to help you decide if the book's content is right for you.

Chapter 1, "How Do You Make a Game?," discusses the game development process from Pre-Production through Gold Master by way of showing how level design fits into the overall scheme of things. Also discussed are design documents, basic level geometry, and the difference between alpha and beta, and A, B, C and D bugs (A being "fix this now" and D being "nice to have, maybe later").

Chapter 2, "Defining the Game," focuses on the various types of games on the market and the differences between them, from first-person shooters to platformers, action RPGs to MMORPGs. Also discussed in some depth are themes (fantasy, sci-fi), ESRB ratings and audience age, and system limitations.

Chapter 3, "Enemies and Obstacles: Choosing Your Challenges," is where the book really begins to get into the nitty-gritty of the level design process. This third chapter covers the placement of enemies ("mobs") and objects within the level, the types of levels (hubs, boss levels, etc.), skill trees and the application of skills to obstacles within each level.

With an idea of what needs to go where, Chapter 4, "Brainstorming Your Level Ideas," delves into the creation of concept sketches and reference images, the creation of a level's storyline, the drafting of a level description and the design of the puzzles and scripted sequences within the level (which incorporate the mobs and objects discussed previously).

Chapter 5, "Designing With a Diagram," is where all those ideas and brainstorming begin to take concrete shape. A primary concern here is the scope and order of levels within the game, particularly in terms of a player's progress through each level. Once you know where your level fits into the overall schema, the author tells you to lay it out in diagram format by creating a grid; this is not unlike a Dungeon Master carving out 10' by 10' dungeon corridors on graph paper for a D&D game. You know who you are.

Chapter 6, "The Template," introduces the reader to UnrealEd, a level editor for which a demo is provided in the back of the book. The author walks through the basics of using UnrealEd, from the basic creation of a room and the placement of an NPC within it to slightly more advanced topics such as vertex editing and static meshes. It's a fairly technical chapter, but is laid out clearly with numbered instructions and plenty of screenshots to guide the reader along.

Chapter 7, "Improving Your Level," jumps ahead in time a bit, assuming that you've already mastered the basics from Chapter 6 and have created a level template that can now be play-tested. It focuses mostly on that play-testing process and how to adjust and balance one's level based on feedback in order to make it fun and functional.

The next chapter, "Taking It to 11," is more concerned with polish and quality. Topics include architectural style, the addition of details like trim and borders, the appropriate use of textures and props, and the like. The second third of the chapter takes the reader back into UnrealEd to practice some of these skills, including the creation of new shapes and a radial building technique to create curved hallways an rounded rooms. Finally, the chapter discusses the addition of other game elements, including scripted sequences, ambient sounds and music, and other special effects such as fog.

The final chapter, "Ship It!," revisits the concept of Alpha, Beta and Gold Master in more depth, discussing optimization, the creation of zones (with an UnrealEd tutorial to help the reader along), game balance, and bug testing. It closes off with some discussion of helpful skills and practices one might pick up, including how to file a good bug, why you should archive data, and how to take good screenshots.

On the subject of screenshots, it is worth noting here that the book contains one such shot from Flagship Studio's Hellgate: London, a game which I am downloading from the EA store as I write this review, and which is scheduled for official release on Halloween, 2007. In my experience, many books on game design tend to incorporate screenshots and examples from older games, and it's rare to find a book that includes a screenshot from a game that is not only current, but as of the book's publication was yet unreleased. Indeed, most of the examples in the book are of games released in the past several years (Psychonauts, Half-Life 2, Doom 3), and this gives the book added relevance, appeal and longevity.

Aside from the more technical language involved with the UnrealEd tutorials, the book's clear language and friendly tone makes it quite accessible, even for those not of a technical persuasion. While I can't speak to how much the book would help a more experienced LD, it definitely seems appropriate for a beginner who's eager to learn the craft, or anyone interested in the game industry as a whole. I highly recommend it."
Data Storage

+ - World's 5 Biggest SANs

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "ByteandSwitch is searching the World's Biggest SANs, and has compiled a list of 5 candidate with networks supports 10+ Petabytes of active storage. Leading the list is JPMorgan Chase, which uses a mix of IBM and Sun equipment to deliver 14 Pbytes for 170k employees. Also on the list are the U.S. DoD, which uses 700 Fibre Channel switches, NASA, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (it's got 18 Pbytes of tape! storage), and Lawrence Livermore."

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