Adam Orth, creative director of Microsoft Studios, on Thursday tweeted that "doesn't get" objections to DRM schemes that require always-on internet connection to play console games. An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Friday released an official statement regarding the tweets: 'We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.'" I can't help reading those tweets in the voice of Sterling Archer.
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zacharye writes "Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have long been considered the future of computing and a new projection from market research firm Gartner shows just how important the mobile market has become. According to the firm's estimates for 2013, Apple devices will outsell Windows devices for the first time this year. The estimate takes into account sales of Apple's iPhones, iPads and Mac computers as well as desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones powered by Microsoft's various Windows operating systems..."
i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "You have a Friend Request from: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms... 'Confirm'? 'Not Now'? Seriously, the ATF won't try to friend you on Facebook. The ATF doesn't just want a huge database to reveal everything about you with a few keywords. It wants one that can find out who you know. According to a recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the bureau is looking to buy a 'massive online data repository system' for its Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information (OSII)."
First time accepted submitter Dawn Kawamoto writes "Employers stampeding into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to get their H-1B petitions filed before the cap is reached are getting the door slammed in their face today. The cap was hit in near record time of 5 days, compared to the 10 weeks it took last year to have more than enough petitions to fulfill the combined cap of 85,000 statutory and advanced degree H-1B petitions. While U.S. tech workers scream that they're losing out on jobs as H-1B workers are hired, employers are countering that the talent pool is lacking and they need to increase the cap. Of course, Congress is wrangling in on this one as to whether it's time to raise the bar."
beerdragoon writes "Electronic Arts CEO Peter Moore has responded to the company's appearance in the finals of the Consumerist's Worst Company In America poll. Moore accepts some responsibility for some of EA's past failings: 'I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this.' However, he ignores or contests many of the common complaints about the company — issues that earned it a spot in the finals for the second year in a row. Quoting: 'Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme. It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period. ... Some people think that free-to-play games and micro-transactions are a pox on gaming. Tens of millions more are playing and loving those games."
mk1004 writes "From Bloomberg and the Washington Post come reports that Google is petitioning a federal court to resist compliance with a national security letter from the FBI. This comes two weeks after the U.S. District Judge in San Francisco ruled that NSLs are unconstitutional because they 'violate the First Amendment and separation of powers principles.' Google filed a petition to 'set aside the legal process,' citing a provision that allows judges to modify or deny NSLs that are 'unreasonable, oppressive, or otherwise unlawful.' EFF attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying, 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google. So far no one has really stood up for their users.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, there's been a theory drifting around that government can be made more open and efficient via the same crowdsourcing and social-networking tools that created such successes out of Facebook, Twitter and Kickstarter. In that spirit, numerous pundits and analysts have advocated the development of 'e-government' or 'government 2.0.' But what if the idea isn't as great as it seems? That's the angle embraced by Evgeny Morozov in a recent essay for The Baffler. Structured as a lengthy takedown of open-source advocate and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly, the piece veers off to fire a few torpedoes at the idea of making government more responsive and transparent through technology (the latter being something O'Reilly readily advocates). 'One of the main reasons why governments choose not to offload certain services to the private sector is not because they think they can do a better job at innovation or efficiency,' Morozov writes, 'but because other considerations — like fairness and equity of access — come into play.' If O'Reilly himself argues that a government should be 'stripped down to its core' into a form more transparent and collaboration-friendly, Morozov counters with the idea that the 'participation' envisioned by most government 2.0 scenarios is limited, little better in practice than the comments section at the bottom of a corporate blog posting."
ducomputergeek writes "Since the assault weapons ban seems to have died in Congress, it looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) now turning her attention to video games...again. '"If Sandy Hook doesn't [make game publishers change] then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future," said Feinstein. She went on to claim that video games play "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that."' Yet, as the article points out, since the introduction of games like DOOM, the crime rate in the U.S. has gone down. Dramatically. Correlation != causation, and all that jazz, but there are a lot of violent video games these days and yet crime has continued to go down."
kierny writes "Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) should know better. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee claimed to told NBC News that the Operation Ababil U.S. bank disruption DDoS campaign could be stopped, if only private businesses had unfettered access to top-flight U.S. government threat intelligence. Not coincidentally, Rogers is the author of CISPA (now v2.0), a bill that would provide legal immunity for businesses that share threat data with the government, while allowing intelligence agencies to use it for 'national security' purposes, thus raising the ire of privacy rights groups. Just one problem: Numerous security experts have rubbished Rogers' assertion that threat intelligence would have any effect on banks' ability to defend themselves. The bank disruptions aren't cutting-edge or stealthy. They're just about packets overwhelming targeted sites, despite what Congressionally delivered intelligence might suggest."
New submitter dtschmitz highlights the success of the Google Chromebook to underscore what, in his view, is a serious Linux brand image problem. "It's remarkable how Google doesn't mention the word Linux anywhere in their marketing of the Google Chromebook. I mean, it's running the Linux Kernel, so shouldn't it be Google Linux instead of ChromeOS? Why did Google carefully avoid references to Linux? It's all a very carefully crafted, well executed plan of elegant branding and image making. ... The profile of this user is that of someone who really doesn't care anything about the technical underpinnings of a device. They are not sophisticated technophiles by any means. They have a set number of things which they wish to do--recreational surfing, banking, email, an occasional letter, not complicated. ... Google didn't mention Linux because they know it will scare buyers away. That's unfortunate, but true. And we need to come to terms with that fact and work towards improving the 'Linux Inside' brand image.
ananyo writes "According to the accepted account, an astronaut falling into a black hole would be ripped apart, and his remnants crushed as they plunged into the black hole's infinitely dense core. Calculations by Joseph Polchinski, a string theorist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, though, point to a different end: quantum effects turn the event horizon into a seething maelstrom of particles and anyone who fell in would hit a wall of fire and be burned to a crisp in an instant. There's one problem with the firewall theory. If Polchinski is right, then either general relativity or quantum mechanics is wrong and his work has triggered a mini-crisis in theoretical physics."
Trailrunner7 writes "Source code and a private signing key for firmware manufactured by a popular PC hardware maker American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) have been found on an open FTP server hosted in Taiwan. Researcher Brandan Wilson found the company's data hosted on an unnamed vendor's FTP server. Among the vendor's internal emails, system images, high-resolution PCB images and private Excel spreadsheets was the source code for different versions of AMI firmware, code that was current as of February 2012, along with the private signing key for the Ivy Bridge firmware architecture. AMI builds the AMIBIOS BIOS firmware based on the UEFI specification for PC and server motherboards built by AMI and other manufacturers. The company started out as a motherboard maker, and also built storage controllers and remote management cards found in many Dell and HP computers. 'The worst case is the creation of a persistent, Trojanized update that would allow remote access to the system at the lowest possible level,' researcher Adam Caudill said. 'Another possibility would be the creation of an update that would render the system unbootable, requiring replacement of the mainboard.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Virginia Tech say they've had a genuine breakthrough in alternative energy production that could shake up the world's energy structure. Specifically, they've hit on a way to derive large amounts of hydrogen from any plant source. The method uses renewable natural resources, releases almost no greenhouse gasses, and needs no costly or heavy metals. The key is using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory."
An anonymous reader writes "An assistant professor at Ohio State University who recently earned her Ph.D. in literature writes a warning in Slate for others following the same path. She says, 'I now realize graduate school was a terrible idea because the full-time, tenure-track literature professorship is extinct. After four years of trying, I've finally gotten it through my thick head that I will not get a job—and if you go to graduate school, neither will you. ... Don't misunderstand me. There is unquantifiable intellectual reward from the exploration of scholarly problems and the expansion of every discipline—yes, even the literary ones, and even if that means doing bat-s**t analysis like using the rule of "false elimination" to determine that Josef K. is simultaneously guilty and not guilty in The Trial. But there is one sort of reward you will never get: monetary compensation from a stable, non-penurious position at a decent university. ... By the time you finish—if you even do— your academic self will be the culmination of your entire self, and thus you will believe, incomprehensibly, that not having a tenure-track job makes you worthless. You will believe this so strongly that when you do not land a job, it will destroy you, and nobody outside of academia will understand why. (Bright side: You will no longer have any friends outside academia.) ... In the place of actual jobs are adjunct positions: benefit-free, office-free academic servitude in which you will earn $18,000 a year for the rest of your life."
New submitter imikem writes "University of Washington researchers and scientists at a Redmond-based space-propulsion company are building components of a fusion-powered rocket aimed to clear many of the hurdles that block deep space travel, including long times in transit, exorbitant costs and health risks. 'Using existing rocket fuels, it's nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth,' said lead researcher John Slough, a UW research associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. 'We are hoping to give us a much more powerful source of energy in space that could eventually lead to making interplanetary travel commonplace.' 'The research team has developed a type of plasma that is encased in its own magnetic field. Nuclear fusion occurs when this plasma is compressed to high pressure with a magnetic field. The team has successfully tested this technique in the lab. Only a small amount of fusion is needed to power a rocket – a small grain of sand of this material has the same energy content as 1 gallon of rocket fuel.'"
alphadogg writes "A mobile app under development can filter phone calls and reroute them directly to voicemail by reading brain waves, cutting the need for users to press buttons on the smartphone screen. The app, called Good Times, is the brainchild of Ruggero Scorcioni, CEO and founder of Brainyno, who presented the technology at the AT&T Innovation Showcase in New York, where some of the company's top research projects were highlighted. The app analyzes brainwaves as a phone call comes in, and depending on a person's mental state, reroutes a call. Information about brain waves is collected by a headset and sent to the smartphone via a Bluetooth connection, after which the app uses algorithms to analyze the status of a brain." Of course, the user has to be wearing a headset to detect the brainwaves. The software's creator hopes such detection can someday be integrated into devices like Google Glass.
another random user sends this excerpt from the BBC: "Two film studios have asked Google to take down links to messages sent by them requesting the removal of links connected to film piracy. Google receives 20 million 'takedown' requests, officially known as DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices, every month. They are all published online. Recent submissions by Fox and Universal Studios include requests for the removal of previous takedown notices. ... By making the notices available, Google is unintentionally highlighting the location of allegedly pirated material, say some experts. 'It would only take one skilled coder to index the URLs from the DMCA notices in order to create one of the largest pirate search engines available,' wrote Torrent Freak editor Ernesto Van Der Sar on the site."
New submitter SoVi3t points out comments from Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth about the debate over always-online DRM, brought to the fore recently by the disastrous launch of SimCity and rumors that the next-gen Xbox console will require it. "Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? 'Deal with it,' says Microsoft Studio's creative director. In what he later termed a 'fun lunch break,' Orth took to Twitter to express his shock at people who take umbrage with the idea of an always-on console. When quizzed by other Twitter users about people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.' He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out. While Orth later apologized, saying it had being a bit of banter with friends, it did raise awareness that there are more than a few people who are very unhappy with the possibility of an always-on future version of the Xbox. Orth has also now switched his Twitter account settings to private."
hypnosec writes "WebKit developers have already started discussing the removal of Chrome- and Chromium-specific code from the rendering engine in a bid to make the code easier to maintain. Just a couple of days back, Google announced it will go ahead with a WebKit fork to develop a new browser engine — Blink. According to Google, having multiple rendering engines — just like multiple browsers — will allow for innovation as well as contribute toward a healthy open-web ecosystem. The discussion was started by Geoffery Garen, an Apple WebKit developer. He said Google's departure is an 'opportunity to streamline' the code of WebKit, which would eventually make development 'easier and more coherent for everyone.' Garen expects that developers who will be working on WebKit in the future should help to clean up the code. However, Adam Barth and Eric Seidel — two Google WebKit developers — have already offered their help." Google plans on making the switch to Blink in the stable Chrome release in around 10 weeks. They've posted a half-hour video explaining how the transition will work.
carmendrahl writes "3-D printers don't build only solid objects anymore. They also build liquid objects, thanks to a research team at the University of Oxford. The group custom crafted a 3-D printer to squirt tiny liquid droplets from its nozzles. The 3-D patterned droplets can mimic biological tissues, such as nerve fibers, and may have potential in tissue engineering applications. An expert not involved with the study is cautious about endorsing the tissue engineering applications because they're not yet demonstrated, but praises the team for extending 3-D printing to new classes of materials."
First time accepted submitter vinces99 writes "A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago. Now, armed with more sophisticated data from a satellite mission observing the cosmic microwave background – a faint glow in the universe that acts as sort of a fossilized fingerprint of the Big Bang – Cramer has produced new recordings that fill in higher frequencies to create a fuller and richer sound."
DaBombDotCom writes "R, a popular software environment for statistical computing and graphics, version 3.0.0 codename "Masked Marvel" was released. From the announcement: 'Major R releases have not previously marked great landslides in terms of new features. Rather, they represent that the codebase has developed to a new level of maturity. This is not going to be an exception to the rule. Version 3.0.0, as of this writing, contains only [one] really major new feature: The inclusion of long vectors (containing more than 2^31-1 elements!). More changes are likely to make it into the final release, but the main reason for having it as a new major release is that R over the last 8.5 years has reached a new level: we now have 64 bit support on all platforms, support for parallel processing, the Matrix package, and much more.'"
astroengine writes "The Kepler space telescope's prime objective is to hunt for small worlds orbiting distant stars, but that doesn't mean it's not going to detect some extreme relativistic phenomena along the way. While monitoring a red dwarf star — designated KOI-256 — astronomers detected a dip in starlight in the Kepler data. But it wasn't caused by an exoplanet. After some careful detective work, the researchers found that the red dwarf was actually in orbit around a binary partner — a white dwarf. As the white dwarf passed in front of the red dwarf, the starlight was enhanced by microlensing — a phenomenon caused by an intense gravitational field focusing light from behind. This had the counter-intuitive result of causing the starlight to dim when the white dwarf passed behind the red dwarf and then brighten as the white dwarf passed in front. This is one of the first discoveries of a binary partner through microlensing. 'Only Kepler could detect this tiny, tiny effect,' said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington. 'But with this detection, we are witnessing Einstein's theory of general relativity at play in a far-flung star system.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The prelimbic region of the prefrontal cortex in the human brain is thought to play a key role in drug addiction, and researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse wanted to see if manipulating cells there had a positive or negative impact on that addiction. They got some rats addicted to cocaine but not before loading them up with light sensitive proteins called rhodopsins that were placed in their prefrontal cortex, attaching to the neurons there. By shining a tuned laser light on to the prefrontal cortex, it was possible to activate and deactivate the cells. By turning them on with the laser, the addictive behavior of the rats was removed. Turning them off, even in non-addicted rats, saw the addictive behavior return or introduced."