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Microsoft Clears MechWarrior4 Free Launch 131

Vamman writes "If you've been following the drama surrounding the free release of MechWarrior4, then you're probably aware that the initial announcement, made last summer, was a bit premature. Now, nearly a year since that announcement was made, MekTek Studios has announced that Microsoft Legal has given clearance for the free release of Mechwarrior4. This move by Microsoft Games couldn't come at a better time for the community, as the owners of MechWarrior are attempting a reboot of the franchise."

VA Mistakenly Tells Vets They Have Fatal Illness Screenshot-sm 108

An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to a computer glitch and bad diagnosis coding, the VA sent a letter to thousands of veterans telling them they have Lou Gehrig's Disease. Some were right, but many were mistakes. From the article, 'Recently, the VA determined ALS to be a service-connected disability and generated automatic letters to all veterans whose records included the code for the disease. However, since the coding contained both ALS and undiagnosed neurological disorders, some of those letters were erroneous.'"

China Admits Use of Death-Row Organs 309

h.ross.perot writes "Like a page from Larry Niven's Known Space series, here is a real report of criminals' organs being harvested for 'profit.' From the article: 'China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants. According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs. The government is now launching a voluntary donation scheme, which it hopes will also curb the illegal trafficking in organs. But analysts say cultural bias against removing organs after death will make a voluntary scheme hard to implement.'"

NASA Explores the Moon's Water/Oxygen Deposits 73

destinyland writes "NASA's LCross mission will now test whether the moon's hydrogen and oxygen deposits could be converted into air, water, and even fuel. A dramatic crash by the rocket's upper stage will blast 200 tons of moon rock up 10 kilometers from a dark crater — where its constitution can be measured by LCross's instruments. (NASA predicts 'a number of different ways that we'll be able to create water from whatever form of lunar hydrogen we find' on the moon, noting recent missions have already confirmed the presence of oxygen in moon rocks, while the sun delivers a constant stream of hydrogen.) Carrying water to the moon costs $100,000 a kilogram, so these experiments could be a crucial step to getting more people on the moon."
Role Playing (Games)

Free Realms Approaches the Five-Million-Player Mark 77

A few days ago at Comic-Con, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley spoke about the success of Free Realms, their free-to-play MMORPG that relies on microtransactions for a business model. The game was released at the end of April, and by mid-June there were upwards of three million registered users. Now that total is approaching five million, with no sign of slowing down. Min Kim, another panelist at the discussion, said, "When people started talking about it back in 2003 or 2004, people said Western games would never want to do this, to play a game for free and then buy items. And now everybody is saying, 'We're going to have microtransactions as part of our business model.'"

Comment Re:Oh Noes! (Score 1) 921

I agree, and I promise you can survive and be quite all right without cursive. I am 28 years old, high school education + some college, cannot write one word in cursive. I am a victim of a thing called Duvall handwriting. It was an elementary education fad in the 80s. The idea was that kids should learn a simplified cursive that was based on printing. The printed letters were malformed in ways that left little tails into, and out of them so you could hook them together while writing.

The problem was that the teachers only know traditional cursive. So they couldn't effectively teach this new crap that was forced into the curriculum. First we were taught the crappy malformed printing and then the art of hooking the tails. The method of hooking the tails was dependent on the sequence of letters you were in the middle of. We were required to turn in our homework in this crappy cursive, and were marked down if we missed hooking some of the tails.

It was a complete failure. There were several years worth of students who couldn't write traditional cursive, and couldn't even do traditional printing! Over the years after elementary school the tails were hooked together less, and less often. Finally the tails weren't hooked together at all. After 10 years of being asked "Is that an 'R'?" when it was really a "K", my printing shifted toward a more traditional style. My handwriting is nearly unreadable to this day, and so is most of my graduating class. Out of the ones that can write well, I don't know any of them who know one bit of cursive... unless they moved here after elementary. This went on for a few years and then the school district (northshore school dist. in WA) realized their mistake and switched back to traditional.

The only time my lack of cursive knowledge has ever been an issue, is maybe 10 times when some old geezer relative sent a letter, which I couldn't read at all. I had to have my parents translate those. Other than that, I type about as fast as I can think, and I estimate I hand write only a few pages a year, usually songs I am jotting down while playing the guitar (printed), and usually those are even typed into vi on whatever keyboard I can reach

Comment Re:"Princely salaries?" (Score 1) 548

Teachers get paid much better than I do, and much better than most of the people I know, in this part of the country (WA). If they get the proper credentials an elementary school teacher can make a great salary while taking huge amounts of time off, and even build a nice retirement fund while doing it.

I am not saying it isn't deserved, just saying its absolute fucking bullshit for a teacher who has a job to talk that shit up here. They still do complain of course... and the union mobsters collect a huge amount of money while preventing crusty, old, awful, fuckwad teachers from being fired, and good young teachers stay jobless.

My sister makes more money than I probably ever will (I am a licensed low voltage electrician: security, A.V., Data, telecom, etc) teaching elementary P.E., again, I am not saying she doesn't deserve it, she works pretty hard at what she does, but then I have never heard her complain about the pay either. She jumped through the hoops, got her extra credentials and got her pay up very quickly. Her schedule has been infinitely flexible as she has had kids and raised them. The benefits are truely outstanding.
The Internet

AT&T Blocks Part of 4chan 342

holdenkarau writes "Several news sources (Mashable, The Inquistr, etc.) are reporting that AT&T is blocking in the southern United States. That server is used for the infamous /b/ board (the home of anonymous). TechCrunch calls the decision to block 4chan 'stupid,' noting that they may have 'opened perhaps the most vindictive, messy can of worms.' The Inquisitr suggests that 'The global internet censorship debate landed in the home of the free.' moot (who runs 4chan) asks users to call AT&T, while some others suggest more drastic action (like cutting AT&T fiber)." Update: 07/27 09:23 GMT by T : Readers' comments below suggest that a) the purpose of the block was to curtail the effects of a serious DDoS attack and b) that the block has now been lifted, at least for some regions.
The Internet

The Web of Data, Beyond What Google and Yahoo Show 50

jccq writes "Both Google and Yahoo have been supporting Semantic Web markup (RDFa, RDF and Microformats) for weeks and months respectively. What they do, at the moment, is use the markup only for visual feedback by returning better looking, more functional 'page snippets.' But how would it look if you could get all these bits and compose them automatically to form a single structured information page about what you're searching for? The folks at the DERI institute have just released, a visual browser and mashup generator that will go all over the web of data and find dozens of sources to combine together when answering a user query. It also comes in API mode to reuse the information finds inside applications. Here are a screencast and a blog post, with semantic-web-geek details."

Comment oblig capricorn one quotes (Score 1) 151

Dr. James Kelloway: You think it's all a couple of looney scientists, it's not! It's bigger. There are people out there, *forces* out there, who have a lot to lose. They're grown ups. It's gotten too big, it's in the hands of grown ups!

Charles Brubaker: [dividing up the first aid kit] John, you take the flint. Peter and I will split up the matches. Anybody want the gun?
Lt. Col Peter Willis: I'd shoot my foot.
Cmdr. John Walker: I'd shoot his foot.

then there is of course, my favorite: so thereâ(TM)s this guy, see, who takes a trip to see the sights, you know, he has a real good time, anyway, he decides to call his brother, see, and, well, he asks his brother, howâ(TM)s everything at home, and his brother says, the cat died, and the guy says, you shouldnâ(TM)t tell me bad news like that, you know, not like that, you should tell me something like, well, something like the cat crawled out on the roof chasing some mice, and we had to call the fire department, and when the firemen went up to get the cat, well, the cat slipped and fell to the ground, see, and we had to take the cat to the vet, and they were going to operate on the cat, you know, but it was too late, they couldnâ(TM)t save the cat, thatâ(TM)s how you should break bad news, like that, see, so the guy says to his brother, howâ(TM)s mom, and the brother says sheâ(TM)s on the roof

what a great movie...

Solar-Powered Moon Rover To Explore Apollo Landing 151

Mike writes "Carnegie Mellon roboticist Dr. William Whittaker has teamed up with Astrobiotic Technology to develop a solar powered moon rover that will explore the Apollo landing site in 2011. The photovoltaic clad robot features two electric motors in the hub of each wheel, and a half cone of solar generators up top that will power the wheels, run computers, and beam stereo HD video back to earth. The project has been entered in the $25 million Google Lunar X Prize competition."

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