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"Farming" Amoebas Discovered 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the rise-of-amoeba-agriculture dept.
Researchers from Rice University have found a type of amoeba that practices a sort of "primitive farming behavior." When their bacteria food become scarce, the Dictyostelium discoideum will group together and form a "fruiting body" that will disperse bacteria spores to a new area. From the article: "The behavior falls short of the kind of 'farming' that more advanced animals do; ants, for example, nurture a single fungus species that no longer exists in the wild. But the idea that an amoeba that spends much of its life as a single-celled organism could hold short of consuming a food supply before decamping is an astonishing one. More than just a snack for the journey of dispersal, the idea is that the bacteria that travel with the spores can 'seed' a new bacterial colony, and thus a food source in case the new locale should be lacking in bacteria." It's good to know that even a single celled creature is not immune to the pull of Farmville.
Patents

Zynga and Blizzard Sued Over Game Patent 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the swinging-for-the-fences dept.
eldavojohn writes "Thinking about developing a game involving a 'database driven online distributed tournament system?' Well, you had better talk to Walker Digital or risk a lawsuit, because Walker Digital claims to have patented that 'invention' back in 2002. The patent in question has resulted in some legal matters for the makers of 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others.' Walker Digital (parent company of Priceline.com) said it's not sure how much damages are going to be, and requested that through discovery in the court. If you think Walker Digital is not a patent troll, check out their lawsuit from two months ago against Facebook for using privacy controls Walker Digital claims to have patented. It would seem that any online competitive game that uses a database to select and reward contestants in a tournament could potentially fall under this patent — of course, those with the deepest coffers will be cherrypicked first."
The Courts

Xbox Modding Trial Dismissed 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the game-over dept.
It seems the harsh words from District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez on Wednesday had their intended effect; prosecutors in Matthew Crippen's Xbox modding case have now dismissed the indictment. Quoting Wired: "Witness No. 1, Tony Rosario, was an undercover agent with the Entertainment Software Association. He told jurors Wednesday that he paid Crippen $60 in 2008 to modify an Xbox, and secretly videotaped the operation. Rosario had responded to Crippen’s advertisement on the internet and met Crippen at his Anaheim house. All of that had been laid out in pretrial motions. But during his testimony, Rosario also said Crippen inserted a pirated video game into the console to verify that the hack worked. That was a new detail that helped the government meet an obligation imposed by the judge that very morning, when Gutierrez ruled that the government had to prove Crippen knew he was breaking the law by modding Xboxes. But nowhere in Rosario’s reports or sworn declarations was it mentioned that Crippen put a pirated game into the console. ... [Prosecutor Allen Chiu] conceded he never forwarded that information to the defense."
The Courts

Judge Berates Prosecutors In Xbox Modding Trial 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-uppance-has-come dept.
mrbongo writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Opening statements in the first-of-its-kind Xbox 360 criminal hacking trial were delayed here Wednesday after a federal judge unleashed a 30-minute tirade at prosecutors in open court, saying he had 'serious concerns about the government's case.' ... Gutierrez slammed the prosecution over everything from alleged unlawful behavior by government witnesses, to proposed jury instructions harmful to the defense. When the verbal assault finally subsided, federal prosecutors asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss or move forward with the case that was slated to become the first jury trial of its type. A jury was seated Tuesday."
Government

UK Man Prevented From Finding Chipped Pet Under Data Protection Act 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the clause-22 dept.
Dave Moorhouse was elated when he was informed that a microchip provider had information on the whereabouts of his stolen dog. This joy soon faded when the company informed him that it could not divulge the Jack Russell terrier's location because it would breach the Data Protection Act. Last week a court agreed with the chip company and refused Mr Moorhouse's request for a court order compelling them to reveal the name and address of the new owners. Steven Wildridge, managing director of the chip company said: “This is not a choice, it’s an obligation under the Data Protection Act. If the individuals involved do not want us to pass on their details to the original owner then we cannot do so unless compelled to following a criminal or civil proceeding."
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Invents Cheap Laser Cutter 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the frugal-cutting dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jansen, a PhD student and member of the RepRap community, has constructed a working prototype of an inexpensive table-top laser cutter built out of old CD/DVD drives as an offshoot of his efforts to design an under $200 open-source Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. Where traditional laser cutters use powerful, fixed-focus beams, this new technique dynamically adjusts the focal point of the laser using a reciprocating motion similar to a reciprocating saw, allowing a far less powerful and inexpensive laser diode to be used. The technique is currently limited to cutting black materials to a depth of only a few millimeters, but should still be useful and enabling for Makers and other crafters. The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop."

Comment: _Hackers_ is from 1984, not the 1990s (Score 1) 149

by Jonathan (#31941116) Attached to: 25th Anniversary of <em>Hackers</em>

Nobody is denying that during the 1990s Bill Gates and Microsoft were seen as evil monopolists. The point was this wasn't the case in the early 1980s. Microsoft was a successful company, but not a very large or high profile one -- Gates was just another successful tech guy like Jobs and Wozniak -- probably less famous, actually, as Gates was known as just the guy who wrote BASIC interpreters, rather than the more sexy design of computer systems. Again, read the book -- it gives a good feeling for the time.

Comment: Re:Doubt it will ever get made (Score 1, Interesting) 349

by squiggleslash (#31844854) Attached to: Joss Whedon To Direct <em>The Avengers</em>

Just because some cancellations were due to Fox's incompetence doesn't mean all of them are.

Fox did enough wrong with Firefly to obscure the real problems with the show, which was that it was a space-opera-cum-western with pro-Confederacy overtones with little appeal outside of a small cadre of "science fiction nerds who like that kind of thing."

Fox didn't commission Firefly because they were enthusiastic about the concept, but because they needed to kill the absurdly expensive and rapidly tanking Dark Angel, but do so without angering James Cameron. Commissioning a replacement science fiction show from a rising star (as Whedon was at the time) was a move that would look good enough on paper that it wouldn't appear to be a slap in the face to Cameron.

Firefly was commissioned for all the wrong reasons, it was a flop, subsequent events, such as the disastrous box office figures for Serenity (a low to medium budget film whose box office receipts - half of which are kept by the cinemas - was lower than its budget), show that the concept had virtually no appeal, and it's really only a combination of Fox's screwing with the schedule - understandable given they realized early on they had a lemon on their hands - and decent DVD sales - that's created the myth it was somehow a superb, popular, series that would have been as popular as Buffy had it just had the same level of support.

Fox also put pressure on Whedon to do things to early episodes of Dollhouse that also caused a run of barely watchable episodes until Episode 6. However, the show getting back on track, losing the abysmal Terminator ball and chain, and being nurtured by Fox did nothing to improve ratings, despite switching from barely watchable to arguably the smartest show on television. Sometimes concepts just don't work. Had Dollhouse been canceled by, say, episode 11, there'd have been enough people who had become fans of the concept for it to develop a similar cult following, who'd have likewise assumed that the problem was with Fox rather than the show itself.

But we know that isn't the case. Despite becoming good, the ratings continued to drop. Sometimes shows just don't have appeal. Sometimes the concept just isn't strong enough to attract viewers. Dollhouse was a great show that fits that description. And, alas, Firefly was a somewhat poorer show (not a bad show, don't get me wrong, but I've never understood the obsession with it as "the greatest science fiction show ever!" It's not even science fiction, it's a space opera damn it!) that also fits the description.

People have the cause and effect backward. Firefly didn't fail because Fox messed around with it. Fox messed around with it, and in the end stopped caring about it, because it was a failure.

Comment: Re:Not very good? (Score 2, Interesting) 240

by rayharris (#31844454) Attached to: Opera Mini For iPhone Reviewed

That makes no sense because they are pushing HTML5 which allows the same thing

Initially, Apple only wanted web apps for the iPhone. It took nearly a year for the iPhone SDK and App Store to be opened up. Apple cared mainly about opening up the platform to outside developers. A web app running HTML5 and JavaScript could do very little damage to the iPhone OS whereas a native App has the potential to do more damage.

I still don't think their hatred of Flash is about protecting their revenue stream (which shows why they allow NetFlix streaming). They sell songs on iTunes, but Pandora hasn't hurt that, so I don't think they see NetFlix as a threat either. They probably look at the trade off that having NetFlix would sell more iPads to people who might then buy more stuff from iTunes (music, apps, or videos).

I think their hatred of Flash is really a hatred of... Flash. I don't work at Apple, but I can just about guarantee you they've ported some version of Flash player over to an iPhone in-house and it probably sucks. The same probably applies to the Java Virtual Machine as well. When you have such a crappy intermediary on a phone where user experience is king, Apple doesn't want any part of it.

If you look at some of the other intermediaries that are out there, primarily Unity3D, Apple happily lets them in because they don't affect performance. Yes, you can build crappy apps in Xcode and Unity, but it's also just as easy to write good apps. I imagine in Flash and Java, it's probably hard to write apps that do anything useful, but still live up to Apple's expectations for providing a slick user experience.

Adobe is whining about CS5 apps being blocked, but my prediction is that a CS5 app is going to be sluggish, particularly the touch interface, compared to an Xcode or Unity app. We'll just have to see how it all plays out.

Comment: Re:IE8 performs awesome, as usual (Score 2, Informative) 246

by Simetrical (#30953992) Attached to: Freeciv As Benchmark of HTML5 Canvas Javascript Performance

Worth pointing out that HTML5 isn't a standard yet. It's still in draft for the next couple years.

Canvas is at last call at the WHATWG. Look at the little tags at the side: "Last call for comments". This means that the WHATWG (a standards organization) believes that part of the spec is stable and is asking for implementations.

Canvas is also a de facto standard. Gecko, WebKit, and Presto have all implemented it more or less interoperably for an awful long time now: Firefox since 2005, for instance.

You are correct to say that HTML5 is not yet a W3C standard, unless you call Working Drafts "standards". But the W3C is not the only standards body out there.

Comment: Re:Not really (Score 1) 756

by Totenglocke (#30953990) Attached to: MSI Will Launch iPad Alternative

You don't text much, do you? I texted with T9 and it was alright - now that I have an iPhone i can text pretty fast, but it gets tedious if you tried to write something long (such as taking notes in a business or classroom setting). That keyboard, while it's much bigger than the iPhone (obviously) is still not going to be as nice for taking notes as handwriting recognition would be.

With the average h264 video being in the 1.5 GB - 2 GB range, that means that once you install apps, download your email, copy over pictures and music, you might be lucky to get 4 movies on a 16 GB iPad. The whole point of the iPad is that it's easily portable - for situations like traveling. However, if you have to lug a laptop with you in order to sync over new movies, you might as well just watch the movies, use programs, and listen to music on the laptop. It's a great idea, it's just that the iPad is only about 85% done. Like I said, maybe by the second or third generation of the device I'll buy one. I honestly see most sales of this being to the Apple fanboy / "gotta have the new thing" crowd who will quickly go ".....I can do that on my iPhone / iPod Touch" and most either toss it in the closet to collect dust or sell it on ebay.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 1324

by docwatson223 (#30953974) Attached to: US Grants Home Schooling German Family Political Asylum
It sounds like you're advocating 'The Lord of the Flies' as a child rearing model; you're not an inner-city public school teacher by any chance, are you? That child developmental model has worked *SO* well there! :) Yes, I want to shield my kids from drugs, pron, bullies, and the Jr- Sr High brat-pack BS - life is hard enough without the labels and stupidity of public schooling!

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