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Games

Dead Space 2 Announced 56

Electronic Arts announced on Monday that their popular survival-horror game Dead Space is officially getting a sequel. According to the press release, it's being developed for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. There's speculation that Dead Space 2 may include some form of multiplayer, after an EA job opening was spotted on LinkedIn that mentioned multiplayer level design for the franchise.
Google

Los Angeles Goes Google Apps With Microsoft Cash 266

Dan Jones writes "The Los Angeles City Council has approved a US$7.25 million, five-year deal with Google in which the city will adopt Gmail and other Google Apps. Interestingly, just over $1.5 million for the project will come from the payout of a 2006 class action lawsuit between the City and Microsoft (Microsoft paid $70 million three years ago to settle the suit by six California counties and cities who alleged that Microsoft used its monopoly position to overcharge for software). The city will migrate from Novell GroupWise e-mail servers. For security, Google will provide a new separate data environment called 'GovCloud' to store both applications and data in a completely segregated environment that will only be used by public agencies. This GovCloud would be encrypted and 'physically and logically segregated' from Google's standard applications. Has cloud computing stepped up to prime time?"
Software

Submission + - Comparing Microsoft and Apple Websites' Usability (infoq.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: In the article entitled Apple vs. Microsoft — A Website Usability Study, Dmitry Fadeyev, co-founder of Pixelshell, compares Apple's and Microsoft's web sites from a usability perspective, and Apple is the winner. Scott Barnes, PM at Microsoft, agrees with him and suggests the problem is because various site sub-domains have different management.
Microsoft

Microsoft Drops Xbox 360 Pricing 169

Kawahee was one of several readers to tip news of a price cut for the Xbox 360. This comes after Sony dropped PS3 prices and unveiled the Slim model last week. The 360 Elite will now retail for $299, but will no longer ship with HD cables. The 360 Pro has been reduced to $249, but Microsoft is phasing it out. Analysts don't expect this new price point to be a huge boon for sales because the Elite doesn't match the PS3's hardware capabilities and is still more expensive than the Wii. Microsoft has "no plans" for a smaller version of the 360.
Wireless Networking

WPA Encryption Cracked In 60 Seconds 322

carusoj writes "Computer scientists in Japan say they've developed a way to break the WPA encryption system used in wireless routers in about one minute. Last November, security researchers first showed how WPA could be broken, but the Japanese researchers have taken the attack to a new level. The earlier attack worked on a smaller range of WPA devices and took between 12 and 15 minutes to work. Both attacks work only on WPA systems that use the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) algorithm. They do not work on newer WPA 2 devices or on WPA systems that use the stronger Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm."
United States

US Call-Center Jobs — That Pay $100K a Year 362

bheer writes "BusinessWeek profiles a call center company called iQor which has grown revenues 40% year-on-year by (shock) treating employees as critical assets. It's done this not by nickel-and-diming, but by expanding its US operations (13 centers across the US now), giving employees universal health insurance, and paying salaries and bonuses that are nearly 50% above industry norms. The article notes that outsourcing will continue and globalization will continue to change the world's economic landscape. 'But the US is hardly helpless. With smart processes and the proper incentives, US companies can keep jobs here in America, and do so in a way that is actually better for the company and its employees.' Now if only other companies get a clue as well."
Displays

Augmenting Reality With Your Mobile Phone 111

blackbearnh writes "With the release of the 3.1 iPhone OS, application developers will finally be able to develop augmented reality (AR) apps. In other words, Terminator Vision is right around the corner. O'Reilly Media recently talked to Chetan Damani, one of the founders of Acrossair, about how they developed their new AR application, Nearest Tube, which displays the closest London Tube stations over a live video overlay on an iPhone 3GS. According to Damani, developing AR applications on the 3GS is dead easy, and the real trick will be developing good augmented reality apps. 'It's all about who's going to have the most amount of data and the most valid data. So there's the obvious types of apps which you're going to launch and those are the find me my nearest bar, find me my nearest event, find me the nearest tube stop, find me the nearest ATM. And those sorts of apps are all going to be around. But they're only going to be useful for when you're trying to look for things. So if we want to get users to use augmented reality a little bit more, we have to start introducing other bits of functionality, things like show me the offers available in a particular high street. Show me when I'm walking down a high street if there's a table available at a particular restaurant. And it's that sort of interactivity and providing that real-time data in this augmented reality view which is going to start getting people to use it a lot more rather than just for show me where the nearest area is.'"
Medicine

Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages 512

Hugh Pickens writes "Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. argue in Scientific American that although depression is considered a mental disorder, depression may in fact be a mental adaptation which provides real benefits. This is not to say that depression is not a problem. Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can't concentrate on their work, they tend to socially isolate themselves, they are lethargic, and they often lose the ability to take pleasure from such activities such as eating and sex. So what could be so useful about depression? 'Depressed people often think intensely about their problems,' write the authors. 'These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.' Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas and there is evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test (PDF). 'When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye — an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.'"
Medicine

China Admits Use of Death-Row Organs 309

h.ross.perot writes "Like a page from Larry Niven's Known Space series, here is a real report of criminals' organs being harvested for 'profit.' From the article: 'China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants. According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs. The government is now launching a voluntary donation scheme, which it hopes will also curb the illegal trafficking in organs. But analysts say cultural bias against removing organs after death will make a voluntary scheme hard to implement.'"
Media

CoS Bigwig Likens Wikipedia Ban to Nazis' Yellow Star Decree 567

We mentioned on Thursday that Wikipedia has banned edits originating from certain IP addresses belonging to the Church of Scientology; reader newtley writes now that Scientology leader (CEO and Chairman of the Board of the linked, but legally separate, Religious Technology Center) David Miscavige calls the ban "a 'despicable hate crime,' and asks, 'What's next, will Scientologists have to wear yellow, six-pointed stars on our clothing?' During World War II, Hitler forced Jewish men, women and children to wear a a yellow cloth star bearing the word Jude to brand them in the streets of Europe, and in the Nazi death camps."
Data Storage

Windows 7 Hard Drive and SSD Performance Analyzed 248

bigwophh writes "Despite the fact that Windows 7 is based on many of the same core elements as Vista, Microsoft claims it is a different sort of animal and that it should be looked at in a fresh, new light, especially in terms of performance. With that in mind, this article looks at how various types of disks perform under Windows 7, both the traditional platter-based variety and newer solid state disks. Disk performance between Vista and Win7 is compared using a hard drive and an SSD. SSD performance with and without TRIM enabled is tested. Application performance is also tested on a variety of drives. Looking at the performance data, it seems MS has succeeded in improving Windows 7 disk performance, particularly with regard to solid state drives."
The Media

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology 665

El Reg writes "Showing a new-found resolve to crack down on self-serving edits, Wikipedia has banned contributions from all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology. According to Wikipedia administrators, this marks the first time such a high-profile organization has been banished for allegedly pushing its own agenda on the 'free encyclopedia anyone can edit.'"
United States

Submission + - BestBuy Sells 9-year-old Hard Drive Refuses Refund (consumerist.com) 2

JagsLive writes: Consumerist :

Jon spent $250 on a Western Digital VelociRaptor but what he received from Best Buy was a Quantum Fireball, a discontinued hard drive that hasn't been sold for nine years. Best Buy, of course, took no responsibility for the odd swap, and said that Western Digital must have accidentally sold a competitor's discontinued drive. Western Digital, of course, said that a Best Buy employee stole Jon's hard drive. We've seen this happen before with Best Buy, and Jon has made it clear that he knows how to bite back...

"Last week, I purchased a Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drive on bestbuy.com for in-store pickup. After receiving the confirmation email, I drove approximately 1 hour to the store I had selected (the closest store to me), picked up my drive, and returned home. When I opened the package (it was sealed), I was shocked and dismayed to find that instead of the VelociRaptor, there was a 9 year old 30GB Quantum Fireball (a drive not even made anymore)."

More at Consumerist : http://consumerist.com/5206541/best-buy-sells-9+year+old-discontinued-hard-drive-as-brand-new-western-digital-refuses-refund

Space

Workable Fusion Starship Proposed 260

Adam Korbitz writes "A former colleague of Edward Teller — father of the hydrogen bomb — has published a new paper proposing a design for what could be the first practical fusion-powered spacecraft (PDF). As described at Centauri Dreams, the design has certain similarities to MagOrion, a 1990s-era proposal for a nuclear-powered spaceship with a magnetic sail and propelled by small-yield fission devices. The proposal's author also has links to the British Interplanetary Society's Project Daedalus, a 1970s proposal for an unmanned fusion-powered interstellar probe designed to reach 12% of the speed of light on its way to Barnard's Star."
Sci-Fi

Submission + - Gawker hosts Hubbard himself relaying Xenu story (gawker.com)

FtT writes: As of today Gawker is now among the web sites hosting the OT3/Xenu/Xemu story in L Ron Hubbard's own words, as recorded in a 1968 lecture for 'Class VII Auditors'. This is significant as it was Gawker was the first hit by the Church of Scientology's legal team demands to remove the now infamous Tom Cruise video.

Scientologists are taught that to hear the story before you are ready ('ready' being defined as having taking OTIII at a cumulative cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars) will cause you to die of pneumonia soon after. Millions of views of the material lately online in both transcribed and audio form has thus far failed to cause any reports of a pandemic however.

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