sopssa writes: "Take Two Interactive has laid off 20 Firaxis developers, around 15% of the staff, for what it calls a realignment of development resources at the studio. “Firaxis has realigned its development resources in order to streamline its development process, reduce costs and maximize the overall performance of the studio”, 2K said. The layoffs were announced just a day after Firaxis won "Best Strategy Game" from Game Critics Awards at E3 and are really unusual as they were announced just before a major game released by the studio. However Take Two is saying the layoffs will not affect the forthcoming Civilization V or the Facebook game Civilization Network. Since 2K Games is laying off Firaxis developers and because persons like Will Wright are already working with EA, could it be possible that after Civilization V the team would be working with a new Alpha Centauri, which IP Electronic Arts now owns. Sid Meier has previously hinted it as a possibility and an interesting project if it's just possible."
sopssa writes: "Firefox's Co-Founder Blake Ross is skeptical about the future of Firefox. He says that "the Mozilla Organization has gradually reverted back to its old ways of being too timid, passive and consensus-driven to release breakthrough products quickly." Within the past year Chrome has been steadily increasing its marketshare along with the other WebKit based browsers like Safari. Meanwhile Mozilla's CEO says that while it's more competitive than ever, they're looking forward to their mobile version of Firefox. "Clearly, both are annoyed at what has happened to their former renegade web browser. — But, by many accounts, Firefox is no longer considered to be the light, open alternative it once was.""
sopssa writes: "2K Games today announced that Civilization V will be using Steamworks for online matchmaking, automated updates, downloadable content and DRM for the game. Steam's Civilization V store page is also available now, revealing some new information about the game. There will be an "In-Game Community Hub" for online matchmaking, communication and for sharing scenarios between players. Deluxe Edition purchasers will also get a bonus Babylon civilization, behind the scenes videos and a game soundtrack. While including Steamworks might put some people off, it might also indicate a better online gameplay than in the previous Civilization games where it was almost impossible to have a good game without playing with just friends."
sopssa writes: "Despite the hype around iPad, its first-day sales didn't manage to live up to expectations. Apple shares fell slightly after the company released its first-day iPad sales. "While there was some of the usual hysteria, the numbers of actual bodies in queues outside Apple stores were significantly low. Over the weekend we saw some footage of empty queue stalls which was vaguely like when we popped into Disneyland Florida in November." Today the Wall Street Journal published a statement from Apple which said that more than 300,000 Ipads were sold on day one. "This would be considered great, but if you take into account the fact the figure included all the pre-sales and the hype that said a million would be flogged on Day One that number is dismal." According to the WSJ, Wall Street took a deep breath when analysts heard the figures."
sopssa writes: "Microsoft, Google, and more than 20 other technology providers and lobby groups have put their names to a set of four principles for changes to Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The group says ECPA needs a reform because technology has advanced dramatically since 1986 and the way people use Internet, social networks, mobile phones and cloud computing requires changes to protect everyones privacy. A government agency should require a court-issued warrant based on probably cause, not a subpoena, to access communications and location information regardless of its age. "Citizens need government action to ensure that as more information moves from the desktop to the cloud, the country retains the traditional balance of privacy vis-à-vis the state," Microsoft general counsel Mike Hintz said."
sopssa writes: "Following China's last week block on certain search terms in Google Search, China has now disabled access to the search engine completely. 'In almost every major Chinese city, users reported that trying to access Google searches returned an error page. The hiatus began at around 5pm on Tuesday in China. Although it was still possible to access Google's websites, searches on any topic delivered an error message.' Chinese "Facebook" Renren has also removed Google's page from the service and access to a translated version of Google's blog post about the reasons to leave China has been blocked."
sopssa writes: "After Google yesterday started redirecting google.cn users to their uncensored Hong Kong based google.com.hk servers, Chinese government has now hit back at Google by restricting access to Google's Hong Kong servers. 'On Tuesday, according to The New York Times, mainland China users could not see uncensored Hong Kong–based content after the government either disabled certain searches or blocked links to results.' China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the country, has also been approached by the Chinese government to cancel a contract with Google about having google.cn on their mobile home page for search. China Unicom, the second largest carrier in China, has also either postponed or killed the launch of Android based mobile phones in the country."
sopssa writes: 2K Games announced today that they will be releasing Civilization V in the fall. For the first time in the series the square tiles will be changed to hexes, which 2K Games says provides "deeper strategy" and "more realistic gameplay". Civilization V will also include new graphics engine, new combat system including ranged bombardment, multiplayer and good support for the modding community. 'Each new version of Civilization presents exciting challenges for our team. Thankfully, ideas on how to bring new and fun experiences to Civ players never seem to stop flowing. From fully animated leaders and realistic landscapes, new combat tactics, expanded diplomacy and shared mods, we're excited for players to see the new vision our team at Firaxis has brought to the series.', Sid Meier said. In addition to Civilization V, the Facebook-based Civilization Network will also be released during 2010.
sopssa writes: The users of Google Buzz are exposed to XSS attacks that reveal the user's geo location to a malicious person from the Google Location Services. What makes the attack even more serious is that it works over https on google.com domain giving the user false sense of security. In addition to your geo location being exposed, how long until an attack that sends all your search queries and visitor data from analytics enabled sites to a hacker surfaces?
sopssa writes: According to latest comScore qSearch numbers Bing is currently gaining market share faster than ever before. "In December, Microsoft’s search engine gained another 0.4 percent to capture 10.7 percent of U.S. search queries. That makes five straight months of steady share gains for Bing since it launched — Bing’s share is up 2.7 percent in total since May, 2009. Google gained only 0.2 percent to end the month with 65.7 percent market share. What is even more interesting is if you look at year-over-year query growth rates for each search engine. Bing’s growth is actually accelerating. Its growth rate in query volume was 49.4 percent in December. "
sopssa writes: Several sites including TechCrunch and The Register are reporting about an email Google's vp Jonathan Rosenberg sent to employees on Monday about the meaning of open. "At Google we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses.... Our goal is to keep the Internet open, which promotes choice and competition and keeps users and developers from getting locked in." But are we likely to see Google open their search engine, advertising or the famous backend system? In their words, that would mean Google and other companies would need to work harder and innovate more to keep their users, for everyones benefit.
sopssa writes: If you're concerned about Google retaining your personal data, then you must be doing something you shouldn't be doing. At least that's the word from Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Schmidt tells CNBC, sparking howls of incredulity from the likes of Gawker, who highlights the irony of Schmidt's typically haughty proclamations. After all, this is the man who banned CNet for a year after the news site published information about him it had gleaned from, yes, Google. But the larger point here is that Schmidt isn't even addressing the issue at hand. Per usual. When the privacy question appears, Google likes to talk about the people asking the questions. But the problem lies elsewhere: with the millions upon millions blissfully unaware of the questions.
sopssa writes: TechCrunch is reporting that "several federal and regional government officials in Germany are trying to put a ban on Google Analytics, the search giant’s free software product that allows website owners and publishers to get detailed statistics about the number, whereabouts and search behavior of their visitors (and much more). — One German lawyer that gets cited in the article says the penalties could amount up to €50,000 (about $75,000) per website that uses Google Analytics to keep track of its visitors’ usage patterns." The amount of data Google collects from everywhere of the internet is indeed huge and website owners should be using local open source alternatives to keep the visitor data private.
sopssa writes: The Pirate Bay is finally closing its doors. 'Today marks the end of an era, as The Pirate Bay team announces that the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker is shutting down for good. Although the site will remain operational for now, millions of BitTorrent users will lose the use of its tracker and will instead have to rely on DHT and alternative trackers to continue downloading. — Aside from this shutdown, there is also another major development quietly under discussion. TorrentFreak has learned that behind the scenes the Pirate Bay operators are talking to other BitTorrent site owners to encourage them to follow suit and completely ditch torrents in the future.'