Next Generation is running an article looking at the design of the next-gen consoles. Article author Eric-Jon Rossel-Waugh argues that the new systems have lost their sense of identity, due to high monetary stakes and the need for consoles to 'say something' to the consumer. From the article: "In May, I finally saw a PlayStation 3 up-close - and dear lord. It looks like a space ship based on the template of a waffle iron. Whereas the Sega Genesis looked like you could top-load a CD into it, the PS3 looks like you could top-load a side of bacon. It was around this point that I realized, on the surface, none of the forthcoming-generation consoles really strikes me as a game machine. Building on the PS2, both Sony and Microsoft have chosen to outwardly craft their systems to resemble nothing so much as random hunks of pop electronics."
Eurogamer is reporting that Rockstar Games has finally won a lawsuit. It's an important one too, involving a strip club's objection to its appearance (in satirized form) in the streets of San Andreas. From the article: "Rockstar conceded that its artists worked from photographs of real life LA locations - including the Play Pen - when designing the game, but argued that they 'changed the names, building designs and overall look and feel of the locations... To make them fit the virtual, cartoon-style world of San Andreas and the series' irreverent tone.' Rockstar also referred to the lawsuit MCA Records successfully defended over the song Barbie Girl, when the judge ruled that trademark rights 'do not entitle the owner to quash an unauthorized use of the mark by another who is communicating ideas or expressing points of view.'"
1up is reporting on Ubisoft's enthusiastic adoption of the Wii platform. They'd previously only had two titles announced for the system (Red Steel and a Rayman game), but now claim to have seven different titles in production. From the article: "Ubisoft North America President Laurent Detoc ... praised the Wii several times during the panel, stating that he expects it to have 'a large audience and market.' He also stated that he personally felt that in a time when fewer and fewer games appeal to him, the Wii offers plenty of enjoyment. 'The first time I picked up that sucker I couldn't stop playing it.'" Ars Technica is also reporting that EA is gung-ho about the system. From that article: "EA not only indicated that they are taking the Wii and DS seriously, but the company also hinted that they will follow Nintendo's guidance and release games at or near the $49.99 price point. Nintendo has urged developers and publishers to respect the $49.99 price point, believing that it reflects a value advantage over other consoles. EA did not offer a firm commitment to that pricing, contrary to reports elsewhere."
CurtMonash writes "CNNMoney.com features a skeptical article about the US State Department's plans to soon issue RFID passports (currently being tested on State Department employees). One fear is that they can be hacked for information about you. And even if they can't, carrying around a little transmitter saying 'I'm an American! I'm an American!' isn't a fun and safe thing to do in all parts of the world." From the article: "Basically, you've given everybody a little radio-frequency doodad that silently declares 'Hey, I'm a foreigner,' says author and futurist Bruce Sterling, who lectures on the future of RFID technology. 'If nobody bothers to listen, great. If people figure out they can listen to passport IDs, there will be a lot of strange and inventive ways to exploit that for criminal purposes.'"
Though Microsoft's 'Argo' (now known to be bearing the name 'Zune') is most assuredly a shot at the iPod, it may not be going after the handheld gaming market. Gamespot explores rumours stating that the 'Zune' is simply a first step on Microsoft's road into that particular sector of the games industry. From the article: "The Zune could also just be the first step towards something bigger. People are already speculating about Xbox 360 integration with the device, beginning with streaming audio, like the iPod currently does. But add a few buttons, a thumbstick, and a little more horsepower, and the Zune could soon be singing gamers' tunes." I'd imagine we'll see some simple Xbox Live Arcade style games, which will impact your Xbox gamertag via Live Anywhere. With Vista pushed out to January, they've got to have something to show this Christmas.
electric_mongoose writes "NewScientistTech has a fascinating story about a paralysed man who can control a computer and robot arm using electrodes implanted in his brain. The electrodes measure neural signals generated when he concentrates on trying to move one of his paralysed limbs and software translates these imagined gestures into the movement of an on-screen cursor or a robotic arm. Other researchers have also revealed a way to dramatically boost the efficiency of similar brain implants in monkeys." If you don't have a handy human brain to play with, 9x320 writes points to a report on LiveScience of Wim van Eck's graduation project: a computer game similar to Pac-Man controlled, not by conventional computer code, but by the brain of an insect. From the article:"Instead of computer code, I wanted to have animals controlling the ghosts. To enable this, I built a real maze for the animals to walk around in, with its proportions and layout matching the maze of the computer game. The position of the animals in the maze is detected using colour-tracking via a camera, and linked to the ghosts in the game. This way, the real animals are directly controlling the virtual ghosts."
evilsheep writes "A large collection of correspondence shedding light on Einstein's personal life and perspectives was made public today by The Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Spanning almost 3500 pages, the correspondence encompasses letters to and from his first and second wives and children between the years 1912- 1955.This newly released batch of letters fill in details to create a 'higher resolution' image of Einstein beyond what was previously known of his personal life. The collection has been in the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University for many years, but was not made public in accordance with the will of Einstein's stepdaughter, Margot, who specified that they not be revealed until 20 years after her death. Margot died in July 1986. Einstein wrote almost daily letters to his second wife Elsa and to her daughter Margot whilst away from home about delivering and listening to boring lectures, playing music with friends, or trying to stop smoking."
simoniker writes "As part of a recent MI6 Conference presentation, IDG's Jason Anderson made predictions on the North American installed base of the next-gen consoles through 2008. He predicts that the Xbox 360 will continue to hold a lead into 2009, with the PS3 just behind and the Wii trailing significantly. In particular: 'In 2008, Anderson suggests 15.5 million units in homes for the Xbox 360, 13.5 million for PS3, and 6.8 million for Wii.' Is the Wii really going to trail by so much, or do the analysts not 'get it'?"
An anonymous reader writes "CNet is reporting that Congress may be working to extend the record retention requirements they're already working on for ISPs to social networking sites. Sites such as MySpace or FaceBook would be required to hold onto content access records for an unspecified length of time." From the article: "In those meetings, Justice Department representatives went beyond the argument that data retention was necessary to protect children--and claimed it would aid in terrorism investigations as well. During Wednesday's hearing, politicians also claimed that social-networking sites were not doing enough to verify that their users who claimed to be a certain age were telling the truth. (Recent news reports have said that sex predators are using MySpace and similar sites to meet up with teens.)"