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Sci-Fi

The State of Sci-Fi MMOs 194

Massively is running a story that looks into the status of the sci-fi MMO genre, and why such games have had a tendency to struggle over the years. Quoting: "Fantasy alone carries with it assumptions based in our own history, a romanticized version of the middle ages where knights were good guys and smart people with beards could cast spells. Preconceived notions in sci-fi are far less cast in our collective memory. While stories that predict the future are surely as ancient as the myths describing the past, sci-fi itself didn't really ingrain itself into our culture until the 1800s, with H.G. Wells' stories and other writers at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. ... Compounding the lack of specificity in setting is the tendency of sci-fi games to overwhelm players with skills and rule sets they initially don't understand and eventually don't need."
Music

Apple Shifts iTunes Pricing; $0.69 Tracks MIA 429

Hodejo1 writes "Steve Jobs vowed weeks ago that when iTunes shifted to a tiered price structure in April, older tracks priced at $0.69 would outnumber the contemporary hits that are rising to $1.29. Today, several weeks later, iTunes made the transition. While the $1.29 tracks are immediately visible, locating cheaper tracks is proving to be an exercise in futility. With the exception of 48 songs that Apple has placed on the iTunes main page, $0.69 downloads are a scarce commodity. MP3 Newswire tried to methodically drill down to unearth more of them only to find: 1) A download like Heart's 34-year-old song Barracuda went up to $1.29, not down. 2) Obscure '90s Brit pop and '50s rockabilly artists — those most likely to benefit from a price drop — remained at $0.99. 3) Collected tracks from a cross-section of 1920s, '30s, and '40s artists all remained at $0.99. Finally, MP3 Newswire called up tracks in the public domain from an artist named Ada Jones who first recorded in 1893 on Edison cylinder technology. The price on all of the century-old, public-domain tracks remained at $0.99. (The same tracks are available for free on archive.org.) The scarcity of lower-priced tracks may reflect the fact that the labels themselves decide which price tier they want to pursue for a given artist; and they are mostly ignoring the lower tier. Meanwhile, Amazon's UK site has decided to counter-promote their service by dropping prices on select tracks to 29 pence ($0.42)."
Media (Apple)

Submission + - Bands bypass iTunes with iPhone apps

iminplaya writes: "What's a good way to release your entire back catalog of music to a large audience without having to deal with the bureaucratic red tape of the record labels and the iTunes Store? Release it yourself through the App Store, of course. The album-as-an-iPhone-app method has been experimented with by some bands already, but the Presidents of the United States of America (yes, the guys behind the "Peaches" song) have gone all out, selling its entire discography through the App Store in hopes of engaging fans in ways they couldn't through the iTunes Store alone.

The music, however, is not actually contained within the application itself; instead, it is streamed to the app from a server, requiring the user to be connected to a network of some kind (iPhone users on the cell or WiFi network, iPod touch users on WiFi) in order to access the media.

In a way, this method is almost the beginning of the iTunes subscription model, except controlled entirely by the bands..."


Yep, that's a light there at the end of this tunnel. But let's see if the RIAA doesn't pressure Apple to reject these apps. I'm sure they'll make up some kind of infringement case against them.
Television

18% of Consumers Can't Tell HD From SD 603

An anonymous reader writes "Thinking about upgrading to an HDTV this holiday season? The prices might be great, but some people won't be appreciating the technology as much as everyone else. A report by Leichtman Research Group is claiming that 18% of consumers who are watching standard definition channels on a HDTV think that the feed is in hi-def." (Here's the original story at PC World.)
Censorship

Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed For Australia 424

sparky1240 writes "While Americans are currently fighting the net-neutrality wars, spare a thought for the poor Australians — The Australian government wants to implement a nation-wide 'filtering' scheme to keep everyone safe from the nasties on the internet, with no way of opting out: 'Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material. ... According to preliminary trials, the best Internet content filters would incorrectly block about 10,000 Web pages from one million."
Games

Dead Space Wants To Scare You 195

Kotaku recently ran a story questioning whether the survival-horror genre still exists, and how Dead Space may or may not fit into it. With reviews for the game starting to come in, Ars Technica reports that the game is, indeed, both scary and good. Gamespy wrote up a Dead Space survival guide, and Gamasutra has a lengthy interview with the game's senior producer. In the production of the game, the developers studied things like car wrecks and war scenes to increase the level of realism. They also want the game's sounds to terrify players, including appropriately timed silence. The launch trailer is also available, though it does contain spoilers.
The Internet

Web Singletons? 254

tcmb writes "There are an uncounted number of web mail and picture sharing services, there are more than enough web sites for online bookmark management and friend-finding, but as far as I know there is only one Internet Archive. Which are the true web singletons, services that exist only once in this form?" And does anything approach the singular time-wasting abilities of IMDB or Wikipedia?
Microsoft

The Continuing War Against Microsoft's "Facts" Campaign 316

davidmwilliams writes "I've been rallying against Microsoft's so-called 'Get the Facts' site for the last fortnight in my blog. Rather than give any legitimate comparison facing off Windows Server vs similarly spec'd Linux options, the Microsoft spin doctors opt for bunkum and hogwash with sensational headlines that don't have any substance underneath. Here's the state of play, including an update on my request to Microsoft PR to do something about the blatant lack of integrity displayed. I also go over the latest case study put up by Microsoft: they promise to show why people are choosing Windows Server 2008 over Linux using the City of Uppsala as an example."
Security

Submission + - Mac, BSD prone to decade old attacks 7

BSDer writes: An Israeli security researcher published a paper few hours ago, detailing attacks against Mac, OpenBSD and other BSD-style operating systems. The attacks, says Amit Klein from Trusteer enable DNS cache poisoning, IP level traffic analysis, host detection, O/S fingerprinting and in some cases even TCP blind data injection. The irony is that OpenBSD boasted their protection mechanism against those exact attacks when a similar attack against the BIND DNS server was disclosed by the same researcher mid 2007. It seems now that OpenBSD may need to revisit their code and their statements. According to the researcher, another affected party, Apple, refused to commit to any fix timelines. It would be interesting to see their reaction now that this paper is public.

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