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How Warcraft Really Does Wreck Lives 617

An anonymous reader writes "There's a great blog post about how World of Warcraft can ruin lives, it's written by a person that was for a long time a member of the largest council on what is now one of the oldest guilds in the world." This is a story that is very familiar to a lot of folks. I know people who are actively wrecking their lives and risking their jobs by playing too much of a video game.

911 Call Tracking Site Stirs Concern 239

Frosty Piss writes, "This story comes from the Seattle Post-Intellegencer. For the past year, John Eberly has operated Seattle911.com, a site that until this week took real-time feeds of 911 calls from the Seattle Fire Department and plotted them on Google Maps. But on learning of Eberly's site, officials cited 'security concerns' and altered the way they display 911 calls on their Web site, changing the format from text to graphical, preventing Eberly from acquiring the raw data. (Several programmers are quoted musing how trivial it would be to work around this evasion.) Fire officials worry that allowing others to display where fire crews are on an Internet map could make things easier if terrorists were planning an attack. That logic left Eberly and others scratching their heads, as the information continues to be publicly available on the Fire Department's site. 'We're not obligated to provide this information. It's something that we did for customer service in the first place,' a Fire Department spokesperson said. So is this public information? Should the data be available to the public in real time?" The Seattle P-I story ends with a quote from Bruce Schneier: "The government is not saying, 'Hey, this data needs to be secret,' they are saying, 'This data needs to be inconvenient to get to.'"

Longhorn Server's "Improved" Security 151

An anonymous reader writes, "The 'most secure Windows ever' may be very secure from hackers and malware — but what do you do when Longhorn Server lets you install the OS, set up Active Directory, and initialize the domain without once asking you even to create an administrator password? From the article: 'What happened to Windows Server? Where did all of the stringent security checks and ultra-protection of Windows Server 2003 go? Windows Server 2000 was quite insecure, and Windows Server 2003 turned over a new leaf... But it seems Microsoft is more than willing to flip that page back — even Windows Server 2000 required an Administrator password at the very least.'" Inevitably, Dave Barry's years-old quote comes to mind: "Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the 'most reliable Windows ever.' To me, this is like saying that asparagus is 'the most articulate vegetable ever.'"

Ballmer Sounds Off 335

PreacherTom writes "Steve Ballmer shares his thoughts on the Web 2.0 phenomenon, Zune, XBox, Vista, Bill's upcoming 2008 retirement, the future of Microsoft, and other subjects. For example, regarding the GooTube deal: "Right now, there's no business model for YouTube that would justify $1.6 billion. And what about the rights holders? At the end of the day, a lot of the content that's up there is owned by somebody else. The truth is what Google is doing now is transferring the wealth out of the hands of rights holders into Google." He's blunt, if nothing else."

Phantom Entertainment Announces Lapboard Preorders 59

Arian writes "Phantom Entertainment (formally Infium Labs) are set to finally release their first product after years of investors trust and years on John Public's distrust. The product is the Phantom Lapboard, a wireless keyboard/mouse combo designed so you can frag from the comfort of your couch. It is designed to work with the upcoming Phantom Game Service, if and when the service is released. Preorders for the Lapboard are available on the Phantom Entertainment website. It is due out in November, at a full retail price of $129.99.

Weakness In Linux Kernel's Binary Format 281

Goodfellas writes, "This document aims to demonstrate a design weakness found in the handling of simply linked lists used to register binary formats handled by the Linux kernel. It affects all the kernel families (2.0/2.2/2.4/2.6), allowing the insertion of infection modules in kernel space that can be used by malicious users to create infection tools, for example rootkits. Proof of concept, details, and proposed solution (in PDF form): English, Spanish.

The Troubles With the Yahool Mail Beta 239

An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo Mail recently launched their new webmail service, dubbed Beta (yes just like gmail) no doubt hoping to win back market share in the world of webmail. Their prime competition is gmail, which they've modeled some of the new features on, but Yahoo Mail Beta falls very short of offering a similar experience. The ad infested new Yahoo Mail is patchwork of ideas halfway implemented and glaring usability problems."

IBM Adopts Open Patent Policy 91

Andy Updegrove writes to mention a New York Times article about IBM's bold new move to reform patent practices. The nation's largest patent holder will adopt several new policies intended to clear up the veil of secrecy and wall of lawsuits that plague the patent process. From the article: "The policy, being announced today, includes standards like clearly identifying the corporate ownership of patents, to avoid filings that cloak authorship under the name of an individual or dummy company. It also asserts that so-called business methods alone -- broad descriptions of ideas, without technical specifics -- should not be patentable. The move by I.B.M. does carry business risks. Patents typically take three or four years after filing to be approved by the patent office. Companies often try to keep patent applications private for as long as possible, to try to hide their technical intentions from rivals."

GUIs Get a Makeover 540

jcatcw writes "From Xerox PARC to Apple to Microsoft, the GUI has been evolving over the years, and the increased complexity of current systems means it will continue to change. For example, Microsoft is switching from dropdown menus to contextual ribbons. Mobile computing creates new demands for efficient presentation while the desktop GUI doesn't scale to larger screens. Dual-mode user interfaces may show up first on PDA phones but then migrate to laptops and desktops. Which of today's innovations will become tomorrow's gaffs?"

Could a Reputation System Improve Wikipedia? 216

Acidus writes, "There is an excellent article in this month's First Monday about using reputation systems to limit the effects of vandalism on public wikis like Wikipedia. It discusses the benefits and weaknesses of various algorithms to judge how 'reliable' a given piece of text or an edit is. From the article: 'I propose that it would be better to provide Wikipedia users with a visual cue that enables them to see what assertions in an article have, in fact, survived the scrutiny of a large number of people, and what assertions are relatively fresh, and may not be as reliable. This would enable Wikipedia users to take more advantage of the power of the collaborative editing process taking place without forcing that process to change.'"

Gaming Tourneys Coming to U.S. Television 119

greig writes "DirecTV is aiming to bring to the states what the South Koreans have been enjoying for years: regular broadcasts of videogaming tournaments. Games at the first tournament were Battlefield 2, Counterstrike 1.6, Halo 2, Project Gothem Racing and Dead or Alive 4. The initial broadcasts of the exhibition invitational are on the free DirecTV channel 101 this weekend. Is this the first step to escalating videogames to the status of the X-Games and poker?" Taken from the about section: "The Championship Gaming Series will launch as a league starting 2007; however, in 2006, we will broadcast 3 television events: Championship Gaming Invitational, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) Winter Finals and an event that will be announced shortly."

Amazon Unbox Video Store Launches 308

andrewl6097 writes "Amazon.com has launched it's Amazon Unbox video store. Looks like about 1300 movies and 350 tv series, at $9.99 and up for movies and $1.99 per TV episode. Downloads come with a DVD quality version and a version more appropriate for portable players (using Windows DRM). Also, videos can be re-downloaded from your Amazon media library. Cool!"

Trouble on the Debian Front? 255

Linux.com is reporting that Matthew Garrett, one of the more active Debian developers, has called some ongoing problems with the Debian project into focus with his resignation. While he didn't hold any actual office, many prominent Debian developers described Garrett as "high profile". From the article: "In his own blog, Garrett relates his gradual discovery that Debian's free-for-all discussions were making him intensely irritable and unhappy with other members of the community. He contrasts Debian's organization with Ubuntu's more formal structure. In particular, he mentions Ubuntu's code of conduct, which is enforced on the distribution's mailing lists, suggesting that it 'helps a great deal in ensuring that discussions mostly remain technical.' He also approves of Ubuntu's more formal structure as 'a pretty explicit acknowledgment that not all developers are equal and some are possibly more worth listening to than others.' Then, in reference to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and funder of Ubuntu, Garrett says, 'At the end of the day, having one person who can make arbitrary decisions and whose word is effectively law probably helps in many cases.'"

Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims 162

gottabeme writes Apple has settled with a small Oregon company that claimed patents on simple aspects of iTunes, such as sorting and searching tracks, copying tracks to media players, and just plain choosing a track to play." From the article: "In the 10-page suit, lawyers for Contois said that David Contois, the owner, conceived of and developed a computer interface for playing music on an internal or external computer-responsive music device, which he then exhibited at the 1995 COMDEX trade show and the 1996 NAMM music industry trade show. According to the suit, persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the invention and used the design ideas in the interface for iTunes."

AOL CTO Shown the Door 277

BrewerDude writes "Reuters is reporting that AOL Chief Technical Officer Maureen Govern has resigned from the company. Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? What do the slashdot readers think is the appropriate outcome of this fiasco?"

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