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PC Games (Games)

Activision Wants Consoles To Be Replaced By PCs 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the oppose-on-principle dept.
thsoundman writes with this excerpt from thegamersblog: "We live in a world where we have multiple platforms for gaming: PC, PS3, 360, Wii, etc. Each platform has varying amounts of power when it comes to playing games. Activision, one of the leading cross-platform publishers, wishes to move away from the 'walled gardens' set by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. ... [Activision CEO Bobby] Kotick’s solution is to turn to the PC, where it can set its own model for pricing — not unlike what Blizzard has done with World of Warcraft and Battle.net. Kotick stated that Activision would 'very aggressively' support the likes of HP and Dell in any attempt at making an easy 'plug-and-play' PC that would hook up directly to the TV."
Education

Science Historian Deciphers Plato's Code 402

Posted by kdawson
from the rewriting-the-foundations-of-western-civ dept.
Reader eldavojohn tips the news of a researcher in the UK, Jay Kennedy, who has uncovered a hidden code in the writings of Plato. From the University of Manchester press release: "[Dr. Kennedy said] 'I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato. This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation.' ... The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea — the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. ... Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure — it was for his own safety. Plato's ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher [Socrates] had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death." Here is the paper (PDF), which was published in the journal Apeiron: A Journal of Ancient Philosophy and Science.
Firefox

Mozilla Updates Firefox To Appease FarmVille Users 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-they-could-be-motivated-to-be-a-force-of-good dept.
CWmike writes "Just three days after adding plug-in crash protection to Firefox, Mozilla rushed out another release because people playing FarmVille on Facebook complained that their browser was shutting down the game. Although complaints about Firefox's quick killing of hung plug-ins were not limited to FarmVille, that game was the squeaky wheel that got the update grease. 'A lot of people play FarmVille. To ignore those people for any length of time could have a significant effect on Firefox's share of browser users,' said Firefox user Jeff Rivett on Bugzilla Sunday. 'The problem already existed, but the perceived impact suddenly changed, giving it a much higher priority.'"
Cellphones

Sending Data In Bursts of SMS Messages 181

Posted by timothy
from the out-of-band-and-back-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian carrier Rogers has been experiencing some extreme loads of late, as researchers at the University of Waterloo investigate the potential for sending data spread across bursts of hundreds of text messages. They sent around 80,000 messages in the course of a project testing a new protocol able to cram 32KB into 250 messages sent from a BlackBerry, reaching a rate of 20 bytes per second. The group thinks its protocol could be useful in rural areas of the developing world where text messaging is the only affordable, reliable link."
Input Devices

Toshiba Demos Dual-Touchscreen Netbook 132

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the two-for-the-price-of-two dept.
Lanxon writes "Toshiba has announced a trio of new devices that it's hoping will shake up the somewhat stagnant notebook PC market. The most interesting is the Libretto W100 — a clamshell device that comes with two screens in place of a screen and a keyboard. Both screens are identical, measuring 7-inches diagonally, and are touch-sensitive. An onboard accelerometer allows you to use it in landscape or portrait configuration, and Toshiba's pre-loaded a boatload of specialist software that'll let you get the most from the device — including a range of virtual keyboards. It runs Windows 7, is powered by an Intel U5400 processor, and comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 62GB SSD, and the usual array of connectivity options, including 3G."
Science

Why Being Wrong Makes Humans So Smart 311

Posted by kdawson
from the something-so-right dept.
Hugh Pickens sends in an excerpt in last week's Boston Globe from Kathryn Schulz's book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. "The more scientists understand about cognitive functioning, the more it becomes clear that our capacity to make mistakes is utterly inextricable from what makes the human brain so swift, adaptable, and intelligent. Rather than treating errors like the bedbugs of the intellect — an appalling and embarrassing nuisance we try to pretend out of existence — we need to recognize that human fallibility is part and parcel of human brilliance. Neuroscientists increasingly think that inductive reasoning undergirds virtually all of human cognition. Humans use inductive reasoning to learn language, organize the world into meaningful categories, and grasp the relationship between cause and effect. Thanks to inductive reasoning, we are able to form nearly instantaneous beliefs and take action accordingly. However, Schulz writes, 'The distinctive thing about inductive reasoning is that it generates conclusions that aren't necessarily true. They are, instead, probabilistically true — which means they are possibly false.' Schulz recommends that we respond to the mistakes (or putative mistakes) of those around us with empathy and generosity and demand that our business and political leaders acknowledge and redress their errors rather than ignoring or denying them. 'Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity, or evil intent, we can liberate ourselves from the impossible burden of trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition that we could be in error, without deeming ourselves idiotic or unworthy.'"
Earth

Airplanes Unexpectedly Modify Weather 223

Posted by timothy
from the send-me-some-snow-planes dept.
reillymj writes "Commercial airliners have a strange ability to create rain and snow when they fly through certain clouds. Scientists have known for some time that planes can make outlandish 'hole-punch' and 'canal' features in clouds. A new study has found that these odd formations are in fact evidence that planes are seeding clouds and changing local weather patterns as they fly through. In one case, researchers noted that a plane triggered several inches of snowfall directly beneath its flight path."
Medicine

Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline 506

Posted by timothy
from the aren't-all-perks-relative? dept.
Dthief writes "Bristol University researchers found that coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine, meaning that it only brings them back to baseline levels of alertness, not above them. 'Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee, or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal,' wrote the scientists, led by Peter Rogers of Bristol's department of experimental psychology."
Medicine

Science Attempts To Explain Heaven 692

Posted by kdawson
from the what-gene-codes-for-the-harps dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek about the thesis that heaven is not a real place, or even a process or a supernatural event, but rather something that happens in your brain as you die. The thesis is based, in part, on a growing body of research around near-death experience. According to a 2000 article by Bruce Greyson in The Lancet, between 9 and 18 percent of people who have been demonstrably near death report having had an NDE. Surveys of NDE accounts show great similarities in the details, describing: a tunnel, a light, a gate or a door, a sense of being out of the body, meeting people they know or have heard about, finding themselves in the presence of God, and then returning, changed. Scientists have theorized that NDEs occur as a kind of physiological self-defense mechanism when, in order to guard against damage during trauma, the brain releases protective chemicals that also happen to trigger intense hallucinations. This theory has gained traction after scientists realized that virtually all the features of an NDE can be reproduced with a stiff dose of ketamine, a short-acting, hallucinogenic, dissociative anesthetic. 'I came out into a golden Light. I rose into the Light and found myself having an unspoken interchange with the Light, which I believed to be God,' wrote one user of his experience under ketamine. 'Dante said it better,' writes Miller, 'but the vision is astonishingly the same.'"
Robotics

When Will AI Surpass Human Intelligence? 979

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-afraid-I'm-smarter-than-you-dave dept.
destinyland writes "21 AI experts have predicted the date for four artificial intelligence milestones. Seven predict AIs will achieve Nobel prize-winning performance within 20 years, while five predict that will be accompanied by superhuman intelligence. (The other milestones are passing a 3rd grade-level test, and passing a Turing test.) One also predicted that in 30 years, 'virtually all the intellectual work that is done by trained human beings ... can be done by computers for pennies an hour,' adding that AI 'is likely to eliminate almost all of today's decently paying jobs.' The experts also estimated the probability that an AI passing a Turing test would result in an outcome that's bad for humanity ... and four estimated that probability was greater than 60% — regardless of whether the developer was private, military, or even open source."
Space

The Lower Atmosphere of Pluto Revealed 109

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-should-buy-a-space-heater-haha-get-it-so-funny-blam-blam dept.
Matt_dk writes "Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have gained valuable new insights about the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto. The scientists found unexpectedly large amounts of methane in the atmosphere, and also discovered that the atmosphere is hotter than the surface by about 40 degrees, although it still only reaches a frigid minus 180 degrees Celsius. These properties of Pluto's atmosphere may be due to the presence of pure methane patches or of a methane-rich layer covering the dwarf planet's surface."

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