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Games

When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay? 141

Wired is running a story inspired by the level of gore in the recent Wolverine game that wonders: how much is too much? It mentions a study we discussed in February which indicated that violence tended to interest gamers less than other characteristics. "... the longer you play a 'twitch' action game, the less you notice the cultural content — the gushing blood, the shrieks of agony. You're too busy focusing on the gameplay. I noticed this with Wolverine. For the first hour, I found the deranged bloodshed both shocking and exciting; it made me feel like I 'was' Logan, the grunting, killing-machine character from Marvel Comics' X-Men universe. But as I became more expert, the cultural shell of the game boiled away. In a sort of staring-into-the-cascading-numbers-of-the-Matrix way, I found myself looking past the visible aspects of the game and savoring the underlying, invisible mechanics of play. ... The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection. The gore had become mostly irrelevant."
United States

The End of Tax-Free Internet Shopping? 784

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo writes "If a little-known but influential alliance of state politicians, large retailers, and tax collectors have their way, the days of tax-free Internet shopping may be nearly over. A bill expected to be introduced in the US Congress as early as Monday would rewrite the ground rules for mail order and Internet sales by eliminating what its supporters view as a 'loophole' that, in many cases, allows Americans to shop over the Internet without paying sales taxes."
News

Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World 705

jamie points out news that President Obama has put out a call for a world free of nuclear weapons at a speech in Prague today. He acknowledged that it was a long-term goal, perhaps not something that can be accomplished in his lifetime, but promised to encourage the US Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty. According to the BBC, he also stated his desire to "negotiate a new treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons," and to hold a global summit within the next year to work out agreements for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Obama said, "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it." His speech came less than a day after North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.
Privacy

Ontario Court Wrong About IP Addresses, Too 258

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton comments on a breaking news story out of the Canadian courts: "An Ontario Superior Court Justice has ruled that Canadian police can obtain the identities of Internet users without a warrant, writing that there is 'no reasonable expectation of privacy' for a user's online identity, and drawing the analogy that 'One's name and address or the name and address of your spouse are not biographical information one expects would be kept private from the state.' But why in the world is it valid to compare an IP address with a street address in the phone book?" Read on for Bennett's analysis.
Mars

Methane On Mars May Indicate Living Planet 200

Riding with Robots writes "NASA is announcing today that the definitive detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere means the planet is still alive, at least geologically, and perhaps even biologically. 'Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas,' said one agency scientist. The gas was detected with observations made over over several Martian years with NASA telescopes at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Both biological and geological processes could explain the methane."
Security

British MoD Stunned By Massive Data Loss 166

Master of Transhuman writes "Seems like nobody can keep their data under wraps these days. On the heels of the World Bank piece about massive penetrations of their servers, the British Ministry of Defense has lost a hard drive with the personal details of 100,000 serving personnel in the British armed forces, and perhaps another 600,000 applicants. This comes on the heels of the MoD losing 658 of its laptops over the past four years and 26 flash drives holding confidential information. Apparently the MoD outsources this stuff to EDS, which is under fire for not being able to confirm that the data was or was not encrypted."
Privacy

UK Government Says More Spying Needed 297

An anonymous reader writes "Our wonderful government here in the UK has decided we're not being surveilled enough, and agreed to spend £12 billion on a programme to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage. According to various sources, upwards of £1 billion has already been spent on the uber-database. Rationale? Terrorism, of course (no prizes for guessing). Needless to say, not everyone is as happy as Larry over this: Michael Parker pointed out how us Brits are being 'stalked.' I'm just looking forward to when the data gets lost."
Programming

Getting Paid To Abandon an Open Source Project? 654

darkeye writes "I'm facing a difficult dilemma and looking for opinions. I've been contributing heavily to an open source project, making considerable changes to code organization and quality, but the work is unfinished at the moment. Now, a company is approaching me to continue my changes. They want to keep the improvements to themselves, which is possible since the project is published under the BSD license. That's fair, as they have all the rights to the work they pay for in full. However, they also want me to sign a non-competition clause, which would bar me from ever working on and publishing results for the original open source project itself, even if done separately, in my free time. How would you approach such a decision? On one side, they'd provide resources to work on an interesting project. On the other, it would make me an outcast in the project's community. Moreover, they would take ownership of not just what they paid for, but also my changes leading up to this moment, and I wouldn't be able to continue on my original codebase in an open source manner if I sign their contract."
The Courts

RIAA Gets Nervous, Brings In Big Gun 423

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "I guess the RIAA is getting nervous about the ability of its 'national law firm' (in charge of bringing 'ex parte' motions, securing default judgments, and beating up grandmothers and children) to handle the oral argument scheduled to be heard on Monday, August 4th in Duluth, in Capitol v. Thomas. So, at the eleventh hour, it has brought in one of its 'Big Guns' from Washington, D.C., a lawyer who argues United States Supreme Court cases like MGM v. Grokster to handle the argument. This is the case where a $222,000 verdict was awarded for downloading 24 songs, but the judge ultimately realized that he had been misled by the RIAA in issuing his jury instructions, and indicated he's probably going to order a new trial. But, not to worry. A group of 10 copyright law professors from 10 different law schools and several other amici curiae (friends of the court) have filed briefs now, so it is highly unlikely the judge will allow himself to be misled again, no matter who the RIAA brings in as cannon fodder on Monday."
The Courts

Who Owns Software? 531

SeeSp0tRun writes to remind us of Blizzard's lawsuit against MDY Industries over the Glider cheat. It seems that Blizzard is pushing it even further. They're trying out the legal theory that a software creator retains complete control over how a program is used, meaning that anyone who uses it in a different way could be found guilty of copyright infringement, at $750 a pop. The EFF and Public Knowledge are among the organizations trying to assure that the court doesn't set a really bad precedent here.
The Courts

Hans Reiser Guilty of First Degree Murder 1395

Anonymous Meoward writes "Today Hans Reiser was found guilty of first degree murder in Oakland, California. Quoting Wired: 'In a murder case with no body, no crime scene, no reliable eyewitness and virtually no physical evidence, the prosecution began the trial last November with a daunting task ahead... The turning point in the trial came when Reiser took the stand in his own defense March 3.' Whether he really did it or not, Hans basically just didn't know when to shut up."
Government

Democrats Propose Commission To Investigate Spying 302

metalman writes "Wired has a story on a proposal by House Democrats to 'establish a national commission — similar to the 9/11 Commission... to find out — and publish — what exactly the nation's spies were up to during their five-year warrantless, domestic surveillance program.' The draft bill would also preserve the requirement of court orders and remove 'retroactive immunity for telecom companies.' (We've discussed various government wiretaps, phone companies, and privacy violations before.) But it seems unlikely that such an alternative on phone immunity would pass both the House and Senate, let alone survive a Presidential veto."
Microsoft

Customer Loses Xbox 360 Artwork During Repair 330

An anonymous reader writes "The Consumerist is reporting that one unlucky individual had to send his Xbox 360 in for repairs. The catch is he had spent a great deal of time getting signatures and artwork on the outside of the console from notable members of the gaming industry. He specifically asked and even sent a letter along with his console requesting that the outside of the case be returned intact. When he got it back it was once again, plain white. Assuming that this is a genuine claim, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the missing/cleaned case Microsoft should at least apologize to the guy."
Google

'Porn King' Says Google Should Block Porn Access 424

mikesd81 writes "The Register has a story saying that one of the world's biggest porn producers wants Google and other search sites to put up barriers between kids and adult entertainment. 'Steven Hirsch, the co-chairman and co-founder of Vivid Entertainment, is to deliver this message on Saturday in New Haven, Connecticut as he addresses an army of Yale University MBA candidates. "Responsible companies in the adult industry such as ours have done a great deal to deter minors from accessing adult material," Hirsch proclaims from inside a Vivid press release. "None of the search engines and portals, but particularly Yahoo and Google, has taken any significant steps in this direction.'"

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Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces! -- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party

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