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Education

UK Switches Off £235M Child Database 198 198

wdef writes "The UK's controversial ContactPoint database has actually been switched off! It's rare that we hear anything this sensible from government about an expensive, privacy-destroying, 'think of the children' solution: 'The government argued the system was disproportionate to the problem, so is looking at developing other solutions.' Perhaps the UK coalition government really is winding back Big Brother, as they had promised to do? Does seem unlikely."
Image

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331 331

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."
Games

Avataritis — On the Abundance of Customizable Game Characters 78 78

Martyn Zachary writes "The Slowdown has posted a new critique, 'Avataritis,' that attempts to portray the utilization of character customization as a pandemic, emotional response on behalf of publishers and developers to finding the easiest, most efficient solution to the very unique dilemma presented by the enlarging, widening player base of video games. 'No mechanisms are in place stopping developers from writing and designing heterogeneous yet fully structured, narrative-based computer games with carefully constructed and immutable, unchangeable characters.' The article discusses the emergence and role of gender criticism and research in relation to the recent proliferation of the customizable avatar. The story also dissects the very act of character creation, subsequently aiming to clarify several semantic distortions related to the terminology utilized in character creation, and in turn breaking apart the concepts of relatability and understandability, wholly differentiating the two. The overarching analysis is finally related to examples from the gaming marketplace, where many continue to corroborate apparent falsehoods and misunderstandings in relation to the utilization of the avatar. Ultimately, the writer hopes to dissuade readers, developers and players from believing that written narratives are going away as customization and emergent content are entering video games with full force."

Comment: Mercenary? (Score 1) 104 104

I guess you always remember your first truly immersive 3D game. For me it was Mercenary on the C-64. Smooth wireframe 3D world with steal-able vehicles and entire cities to explore and a helpful AI (Benson), all fitting in less than 64KB of RAM with no multi-load. Anyone else get hooked on this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercenary_(computer_game)
Internet Explorer

Reports of IE Hijacking NXDOMAINs, Routing To Bing 230 230

Jaeden Stormes writes "We just started getting word of a new browser hijack from our sales force. 'Some site called Bing?' they said. Sure enough, since the patches last night, their IE6 and IE7 installations are now routing all NXDOMAINs to Bing. Try it out — put in something like www.DoNotHijackMe.com." We've had mixed results here confirming this: one report that up-to-date IE8 behaves as described. Others tried installing all offered updates to systems running IE6 and IE7 and got no hijacking.
Update: 08/11 23:24 GMT by KD : Readers are reporting that it's not Bing that comes up for a nonexistent domain, it's the user's default search engine (noting that at least one Microsoft update in the past changed the default to Bing). There may be nothing new here.

Comment: Am I one of the only ones in the 12%? (Score 1) 268 268

Hell yes I've responded to spam. Or clicked links in emails. Or chatted to spambots. Surely any curious IT professional wants to know more about how spammers work or how far AI has come in making a profit for some lowlife. Sometimes it's just out of sheer boredom that I investigate or respond.

Here' a typical recent conversation on Skype:

Lena: Hullo!!
Lena: pretty girl looking for new friends
Me: u look like a spambot to me
Lena: Nice to meet you! How can I see Your photos and data? My photos placed at the www:***crappylinkdeleted***
Me: well that was both boring & predictable. Goodbye!
Lena: oh.... sorry... my mom comming soon... see you later!
Me: spambots don't have moms, liar!

So yeah, 12% does seem low to me too.

Comment: Re:Don't forget TIFF (Score 1) 321 321

Actually 42 is the "magic" number used to identify the file as a TIFF, not a version number at all. In fact the creators of the TIFF specification specifically avoided using version numbers, as versioning tends to complicate the implementation of a baseline TIFF reader.

In 1750 Issac Newton became discouraged when he fell up a flight of stairs.

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