eldavojohn writes "Ars analyzes some knockoffs and near-knockoffs in the gaming world that led to problems with the original developers. Jenova Chen, creator of Flower and flOw, discusses how he feels about the clones made of his games. Chen reveals his true feelings about the takedown of Aquatica (a flOw knockoff): 'What bothers me the most is that because of my own overreaction, I might have created a lot of inconvenience to the creator of Aquatica and interrupted his game-making. He is clearly talented, and certainly a fan of flOw. I hope he can continue creating video games, but with his own design.' The article also notes the apparent similarities between Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games). Is that cloning or theft? Should clones be welcomed or abhorred?"
An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kuchera from Ars Technica is reporting that EA/DICE has substantially changed the game model of Battlefield: Heroes, increasing the cost of weapons in Valor Points (the in-game currency that you earn by playing) to levels that even hardcore players cannot afford, and making them available in BattleFunds (the in-game currency that you buy with real money). Other consumables in the game, such as bandages to heal the players, suffered the same fate, turning the game into a subscription or pay-to-play model if players want to remain competitive. This goes against the creators' earlier stated objectives of not providing combat advantage to paying customers. Ben Cousins, from EA/DICE, argued, 'We also frankly wanted to make buying Battlefunds more appealing. We have wages to pay here in the Heroes team and in order to keep a team large enough to make new free content like maps and other game features we need to increase the amount of BF that people buy. Battlefield Heroes is a business at the end of the day and for a company like EA who recently laid off 16% of their workforce, we need to keep an eye on the accounts and make sure we are doing our bit for the company.' The official forums discussion thread is full of angry responses from upset users, who feel this change is a betrayal of the original stated objectives of the game."
Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review has a roundup of some of the weirder ideas on show at last week's Computer-Human Interaction conference in Boston. They include a trackball that heats up as you roll over different parts of an image, a pair of goggles that track eye movements using electrooculography, and a miniature robot with a cellphone for its head."
slreboy writes "The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower. The year 2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73 percent). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008. Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87 percent)..."
nk497 writes "Conficker seems to finally be doing something, a week after hype around the worm peaked on April Fool's Day. It has now downloaded components from the Waledac botnet, which could contain rootkit capabilities. Trend Micro security expert Rik Ferguson said: 'These components have so far been missing, but could this finally be the "other boot dropping" that we have all been been waiting for?' Ferguson also suggested that people behind Conficker could be the very same who are running Waledac and created the Storm botnet. 'It tallies with some of the assumptions people have made about Conficker — that the first variant was actively trying to avoid the Ukraine because Waledac was Eastern European,' Ferguson added."
TuxMobil writes "Bad news for FreeRunner fans: development of the first Open Source smartphone will be discontinued. (English translation via Google) OpenMoko executive director Sean Moss-Pulz said at OpenExpo in Bern (Switzerland) that the number of staffers will be reduced to be able to stay in business. OpenMoko had high intentions: the offspring from Taiwanese electronic manufacturer First International Computer (FIC) wanted to produce an Open Source smartphone. Not only with Open Source software pre-installed, but with free drivers and open specifications of the hardware components. This would give programmers as well as users complete freedom. Up to now the manufacturer has produced two models, the first has sold 3,000 units and the second one 10,000. Both models were targeted primarily to developers. From the beginning, OpenMoko had to fight with different problems. The smartphones came onto the market after a huge delay. Some phones came with construction defects. Also, changes in the team slowed down the development. Software development for the current smartphone will be continued but with fewer resources, Moss-Pultz said. He still hopes the community will support the FreeRunner."
FYI, this is called the Peter Principle.
tcd004 writes "Is your site banned in China? FP Passport recently profiled a new online service, Greatfirewallofchina.org, which tests any website from a server based inside the Middle Kingdom, and reports back whether or not the page is available. Passport also notes that the Great Firewall reveals Chinese censorship whittles down websites to block out individual pages, instead of always applying a site-wide block. The site keeps a running log of each test so Censorship trends over time can be easily tracked."