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Games

Tabula Rasa Goes Free, Brings New Content 87

Last month we discussed NCSoft's announcement that Tabula Rasa would be closing its doors at the end of February, and their plans to remove the subscription fee for all players in January. Well, they've decided to go completely free a month early, alongside the release of a variety of new content. The game has finally gotten a first-person camera view, something many players have been asking for since launch. A new instance and several other bits of additional content are available as well. NCSoft also previewed player-controlled Mechs and PAUs, which will go live in the next major patch. Ten Ton Hammer has an interview with Net Devil's Scott Brown about the closure of Tabula Rasa.
Censorship

Australia To Block BitTorrent 674

Kevin 7Kbps writes "Censorship Minister Stephen Conroy announced today that the Australian Internet Filters will be extended to block peer-to-peer traffic, saying, 'Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial.' This dashes hopes that Conroy's Labor party had realised filtering could be politically costly at the next election and were about to back down. The filters were supposed to begin live trials on Christmas Eve, but two ISPs who volunteered have still not been contacted by Conroy's office, who advised, 'The department is still evaluating applications that were put forward for participation in that pilot.' Three days hardly seems enough time to reconfigure a national network."
Medicine

Injectable Artificial Bone Developed 105

An anonymous reader writes in with the news that British scientists have invented artificial "injectable bone" that flows like toothpaste and hardens in the body. This new regenerative medicine technology provides a scaffold for the formation of blood vessels and bone tissue, then biodegrades. The injectable bone can also deliver stem cells directly to the site of bone repair, the researchers say. "Not only does the technique reduce the need for dangerous surgery, it also avoids damaging neighboring areas, said [the inventor]. The technology's superiority over existing alternatives is the novel hardening process and strength of the bond... Older products heat up as they harden, killing surrounding cells, whereas 'injectable bone' hardens at body temperature — without generating heat — making a very porous, biodegradable structure."
It's funny.  Laugh.

The Smartest Browser and OS 436

The IQ League maintain a "60 Second IQ Test" online. Interestingly, they correlate the results of this test with a number of statistics available from their server logs. Along with the geographical distinctions like city and country, the referrer and OS/Browser user-agent strings are also mined, to determine the Smartest Browser and OS. Cutting to the chase, the very smartest is Firefox on Unknown (which internal evidence suggests is MacOS-Intel), and the dumbest, as of this writing, is IE on WinNT. Quick! Test out and move the bars on the pretty graph! Can we make Slashdot.org the "Smartest Website in the World?" (It's currently number 2 behind ScienceBlogs.com.)
Role Playing (Games)

Fox News / EA Spar Over Mass Effect 'Controversy' 192

The whacked out rantings of Kevin McCullogh have been a hot topic on games blogs in recent weeks, as his lurid description of Mass Effect prompted vitriol from actual gamers. That exchange would have been easily left behind if not for the fact that Fox News stepped into the fray, adding a measure of 'fair and balanced' to the discussion. Their 'Sexbox Sexpose' drew in veteran games journalist Geoff Keighley, who optimistically thought he'd be given the chance to set the record straight. Instead they filled the airwaves with plainly false generalizations about the game's sexual content. Kotaku is reporting that EA is fighting back, protecting BioWare's property and demanding a correction. From EA's letter to Fox: "The resulting coverage was insulting to the men and women who spent years creating a game which is acclaimed by critics for its high creative standards. As video games continue to take audiences away from television, we expect to see more TV news stories warning parents about the corrupting influence of interactive entertainment. But this represents a new level of recklessness." I hope the EA folks aren't holding their breath.
Wireless Networking

Google et al. Want 700 MHz Auction Opened Up 170

The 700 MHz spectrum could give birth to the much-anticipated third pipe, but phone and cable lobbyists are currently pressuring the FCC to sell companies like AT&T and Verizon our airwaves — in a flawed auction process — so they can hoard this valuable spectrum and stifle competitive alternatives to their networks. Google and other would-be providers are not taking it lying down. They want the FCC to mandate that whoever wins the auction be required to sell access to those airwaves, at wholesale prices, to anyone wanting to provide broadband Internet service. They also want anonymous auctions to prevent the giant incumbents from manipulating the results against small players (as they have done in the past).
Music

Submission + - Study shows file sharing has no effect on CD sales

jibjibjib writes: "Ars Technica reports that a study by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, recently published in the Journal of Political Economy, shows that file sharing is not responsible for declining CD sales figures.

The study, entitled "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis," claims that "a one-standard-deviation increase in file sharing reduces an album's weekly sales by a mere 368 copies, an effect that is too small to be statistically distinguishable from zero.""
Space

Submission + - Whistle While You Work? Not in Space.

Ant writes: "ABC News report that astronauts on spacewalks will never, ever be able to whistle while they work in space. Former NASA astronaut, Dan Barry has seven hours of spacewalking time to his credit. He tried whistling during his spacewalk on STS-96 in May 1999. "It wasn't something I hadn't planned — I thought of it on the fly. It turned out that it didn't work." he said. "You can't whistle because the air pressure in the suit is only 4.3 [pounds per square inch], and normal atmospheric pressure is 14.7 psi, so there are not enough air molecules blowing by your lips to make a sound," he said. Seen on Blue's News."
Announcements

Fran Allen Wins Turing Award 79

shoemortgage writes "The Association for Computing Machinery has named Frances E. Allen the recipient of the 2006 A.M. Turing Award for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing. Allen,74, is the first woman to receive the Turing Award in the 41 years of its history. She retired from IBM in 2002."

1 Million Wiis To Be Sold in U.S. By December 206

Gamasutra reports on comments by Nintendo's Reggie-Fils Aime, who is claiming the company will have sold 1 Million Wii consoles by December 1st. From the article: "Nintendo's previously stated plans called for the company to ship approximately 4 million consoles globally before the end of 2006. It is not clear whether the new figures stated by Fils-Aime are still in line with these numbers, since no estimate for Japanese or European sales were given. Sony's plans call for 1 million consoles sales in the U.S. by the end of March, 2007. When interviewed by Reuters, Fils-Aime also commented on the potential lifespan of the Wii, suggesting that a four, five or even six year lifespan was 'just about right.'"

Wii Virtual Console, Launch Titles Finalized 159

For gamers anticipating the 19th of this month, you have a lot to look forward to. The virtual console launch titles and Wii launch window games have been finalized. A full 32 Wii games will be available within five weeks of the console's launch, and fans will be able to buy 30 classic Nintendo, Genesis, and TurboGrafx titles by the end of the year. Even with a disappointing showing for classic SNES titles (no Link to the Past outside of Japan) the virtual console list should make every gamer, Wii fan or no, smile. From the list: "NES Games (500 Wii Points) - Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Ice Hockey, Pinball, Soccer, Tennis, Urban Champion, Wario's Woods, Baseball, Solomon's Key." I haven't owned a NES in quite a while, so I'm really happy to see the likes of Ice Hockey making a comeback. Wow ... got in so many fights with my brother over that game.

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