Since the announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic, many gamers have been hopeful that its high budget, respected development team and rich universe will be enough to provide a real challenge to the WoW juggernaut. An opinion piece at 1Up makes the case that BioWare's opportunity to do so may have already passed. Quoting: "While EA and BioWare Austin have the horsepower needed to at least draw even with World of Warcraft though, what we've seen so far has been worryingly conventional — even generic — given the millions being poured into development. Take the opening areas around Tython, which Mike Nelson describes in his most recent preview as being 'rudimentary,' owing to their somewhat generic, grind-driven quest design. Running around killing a set number of 'Flesh Raiders' in a relatively quiet village doesn't seem particularly epic, but that's the route BioWare Austin seems to be taking with the opening areas for the Jedi — what will surely be the most popular classes when The Old Republic is released. ... the real concern, though, is not so much in the quest design as in BioWare Austin's apparent willingness to play follow the leader. Whenever something becomes a big hit — be it a movie, game or book — there's always a mad scramble to replicate the formula; in World of Warcraft's case, that mad scramble has been going for six years now. "
c0lo writes "Not only did China decline to attend the upcoming Nobel peace prize ceremony, but urged diplomats in Oslo to stay away from the event warning of 'consequences' if they go. Possibly as a result of this (or on their own decisions), 18 other countries turned down the invitation: Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco. Reuters seems to think the 'consequences' are of an economic nature, pointing out that half of the countries with economies that gained global influence during recent times are boycotting the ceremony (with Brazil and India still attending)."
BanjoTed writes "In a move to counter sales of pre-owned games, EA recently revealed DLC perks for those who buy new copies of Mass Effect 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Now, PlayStation platform holder Sony has jumped on the bandwagon with similar plans for the PSP's SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3. '[Players] will need to register their game online before they are able to access the multiplayer component of the title. UMD copies will use a redeemable code while the digital version will authenticate automatically in the background. Furthermore ... anyone buying a pre-owned copy of the game will be forced to cough up $20 to obtain a code to play online."
Hugh Pickens writes "Scott Harris writes on Moviefone that the economics of Hollywood are often baffling, as DVD sales, broadcast fees and merchandising tie-ins balance against advertising costs and pay-or-play deals to form an accounting maze. The latest example is the untitled sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick, released in 2004 to a slew of negative reviews and general viewer indifference. Despite its hefty $105 million budget, most of which was spent on special effects, the film topped out at a paltry $57 million domestically. So how can a sequel be made if the movie lost money? The answer has to do with ancillary profits from revenue streams outside the box office. While the combined $116 million worldwide probably still didn't cover distribution and advertising costs, it likely brought the film close to even, meaning DVD sales and profits from the tie-in video game franchise may have put the movie in the black. In addition, Riddick itself was a sequel to Pitch Black, a modestly budgeted ($23 million) success back in 2000. Extending the franchise to a third film may help boost ancillary profits by introducing the Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick DVDs and merchandise to new audiences, meaning that the new film may not even need to break even to eventually turn a profit for the studio."
ccktech writes "As reported by NPR and Chemistry world, the journal Science has a paper by David Ehre, Etay Lavert, Meir Lahav, and Igor Lubomirsky [note: abstract online; payment required to read the full paper] of Israel's Weizmann Institute, who have figured out a way to freeze pure water by warming it up. The trick is that pure water has different freezing points depending on the electrical charge of the surface it resides on. They found out that a negatively charged surface causes water to freeze at a lower temperature than a positively charged surface. By putting water on the pyroelectric material Lithium Tantalate, which has a negative charge when cooler but a positive change when warmer; water would remain a liquid down to -17 degrees C., and then freeze when the substrate and water were warmed up and the charge changed to positive, where water freezes at -7 degrees C."
trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."
No worries, Daniel, O'Neil, Sam and Tiel'c will take care of it.
Foot-in-Mouth writes "New Scientist reports that girls are more "primed" to fear spiders and snakes, compared to boys. Infant boys and girls were shown pairs of images, a fearful and a happy object (such as a spider and a flower), measuring the boys' and girls' dwell times on the images. And in another similar test, normally happy objects (such as a flower) were given a fearful face and fearful objects were given a happy face. The results of these two tests suggested to the researcher that girls are not wired to fear spiders, for example, but rather girls are wired to more quickly learn to fear dangerous animals. The researcher, David Rakison at CMU, 'attributes the difference to behavioural differences between men and women among our hunter-gatherer ancestors. An aversion to spiders may help women avoid dangerous animals, but in men evolution seems to have favoured more risk-taking behaviour for successful hunting.' This reminds one of men's obsession with video games. Will game designers use this information to tweak video games for gender, either to make the games more or less frightening?"
An anonymous reader writes "There's a writeup on SpywareGuide that explores the world of Xbox Gamerscore hacking, and how high Gamerscores are proving to be a big target for hackers and phishers. It also talks about how a recent release of a Gamerscore-altering program onto forums for hacking & cheating is proving to be lucrative business for both eBay sellers and those who want to artificially inflate a Gamerscore before selling that account, or trading it for credit card details."
alain_delon writes: Here's a really fascinating piece on the BBC about NASA programmer Don Eyles and the team behind the storied AGC (Apollo Guidance Computer). Don was only 23 when he got the gig. Maybe it was good that he was young and naive. As he says: "I don't recall the risk and the responsibility and the fact that other people's lives were to some extent in our hands."
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Perhaps with this, the astronauts will finally be able to download some codecs so they can watch DVDs on the space station. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/27/1656214
Yukette writes: "Are you unsatisfied with life on land? "The Swimming City" by Andras Gyorfi could be the perfect solution for ocean-bound adventure seekers. Gyorfi, the winner of Seastead's first contest to design the perfect waterworld, has created a sea-palace fit for a Triton, complete with a large swimming pool, outdoor amphitheater, helicopter landing pad, and shaded marina."
Al writes: "A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new kind of flexible solar cell that could be far cheaper to make than a conventional silicon photovoltaics. The cells consist of an array of 500-nanometer-high cadmium sulfide pillars printed on top of an aluminum foil--the material surrounding the pillars absorbs light and creates electrons, while the pillars themselves transport the electrons to an electrical circuit. The closely packed pillars trap light between them, helping the surrounding material absorb more. This means the electrons also have a very short distance to travel through the pillars, so there are fewer chances of their getting trapped at defects and its possible to use low-quality, less expensive materials. "You won't know the cost until you do this using a roll-to-roll process," says lead researchers Ali Javey. "But if you can do it, the cost could be 10 times less than what's used to make [crystalline] silicon panels.""
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Are we just reposting stories from FARK and a day late? How is this news for nerds or stuff that matters.