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Media

Lack of Manpower May Kill VLC For Mac 398

plasmacutter writes "The Video Lan dev team has recently come forward with a notice that the number of active developers for the project's MacOS X releases has dropped to zero, prompting a halt in the release schedule. There is now a disturbing possibility that support for Mac will be dropped as of 1.1.0. As the most versatile and user-friendly solution for bridging the video compatibility gap between OS X and windows, this will be a terrible loss for the Mac community. There is still hope, however, if the right volunteers come forward."
Earth

Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than First Thought 451

drewtheman writes "New studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. University of Utah research professor of geophysics Robert Smith led four separate studies that verify a plume of hot and molten rock at least 410 miles deep that rises at an angle from the northwest."
Businesses

Treading the Fuzzy Line Between Game Cloning and Theft 235

eldavojohn writes "Ars analyzes some knockoffs and near-knockoffs in the gaming world that led to problems with the original developers. Jenova Chen, creator of Flower and flOw, discusses how he feels about the clones made of his games. Chen reveals his true feelings about the takedown of Aquatica (a flOw knockoff): 'What bothers me the most is that because of my own overreaction, I might have created a lot of inconvenience to the creator of Aquatica and interrupted his game-making. He is clearly talented, and certainly a fan of flOw. I hope he can continue creating video games, but with his own design.' The article also notes the apparent similarities between Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games). Is that cloning or theft? Should clones be welcomed or abhorred?"
The Almighty Buck

America's Army Games Cost $33 Million Over 10 Years 192

Responding to a Freedom Of Information Act request, the US government has revealed the operating costs of the America's Army game series over the past decade. The total bill comes to $32.8 million, with yearly costs varying from $1.3 million to $5.6 million. "While operating America's Army 3 does involve ongoing expenses, paying the game's original development team isn't one of them. Days after the game launched in June, representatives with the Army confirmed that ties were severed with the Emeryville, California-based team behind the project, and future development efforts were being consolidated at the America's Army program office at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. A decade after its initial foray into the world of gaming, the Army doesn't appear to be withdrawing from the industry anytime soon. In denying other aspects of the FOIA request, the Army stated 'disclosure of this information is likely to cause substantial harm to the Department of the Army's competitive position in the gaming industry.'"
Games

Copyright and the Games Industry 94

A recent post at the Press Start To Drink blog examined the relationship the games industry has with copyright laws. More so than in some other creative industries, the reactions of game companies to derivative works are widely varied and often unpredictable, ranging anywhere from active support to situations like the Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes debacle. Quoting: "... even within the gaming industry, there is a tension between IP holders and fan producers/poachers. Some companies, such as Epic and Square Enix, remain incredibly protective of their Intellectual Property, threatening those that use their creations, even for non-profit, cultural reasons, with legal suits. Other companies, like Valve, seem to, if not embrace, at least tolerate, and perhaps even tacitly encourage this kind of fan engagement with their work. Lessig suggests, 'The opportunity to create and transform becomes weakened in a world in which creation requires permission and creativity must check with a lawyer.' Indeed, the more developers and publishers that take up Valve's position, the more creativity and innovation will emerge out of video game fan communities, already known for their intense fandom and desire to add to, alter, and re-imagine their favorite gaming universes."
XBox (Games)

Modded Xbox Bans Prompt EFF Warning About Terms of Service 254

Last month we discussed news that Microsoft had banned hundreds of thousands of Xbox users for using modified consoles. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has now pointed to this round of bans as a prime example of the power given to providers of online services through 'Terms of Service' and other usage agreements. "No matter how much we rely on them to get on with our everyday lives, access to online services — like email, social networking sites, and (wait for it) online gaming — can never be guaranteed. ... he who writes the TOS makes the rules, and when it comes to enforcing them, the service provider often behaves as though it is also the judge, jury and executioner. ... While the mass ban provides a useful illustration of their danger, these terms can be found in nearly all TOS agreements for all kinds of services. There have been virtually no legal challenges to these kinds of arbitrary termination clauses, but we imagine this will be a growth area for lawyers."
Image

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
Businesses

Avatars To Have Business Dress Codes By 2013 221

nk497 writes "With businesses increasingly using digital tech like virtual worlds and Twitter, their staff will have to be given guidelines on how they 'dress' their avatars, according to analysts. 'As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, enterprises need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the enterprise or the enterprise's reputation,' said James Lundy, managing vice president at Gartner, in a statement. 'We advise establishing codes of behavior that apply in any circumstance when an employee is acting as a company representative, whether in a real or virtual environment.'"
Role Playing (Games)

First Age of Conan Expansion On the Way 47

Funcom announced today that they are working on the first expansion to Age of Conan, titled Rise of the Godslayer. In addition to high-level content, it contains new objectives for lower levels as well, in an effort to fill out the leveling process. It also introduces new factions that are at war with each other: "Faction gameplay plays a large role in Rise of the Godslayer, presenting the player with choices that earn them both allies and enemies in Khitai. Through questing and adventure players can advance through faction ranks, rewarding them with treasures such as epic new armor and weapons. Players can choose to continue their adventures with existing characters, acquiring new combat abilities and spells through a robust alternate advancement system, or start over again as a Khitan — an all-new culture." A brief trailer has been posted, and Eurogamer has a more detailed preview of the new content.
Television

Time Warner ToS Changes Could Mean Tiered Pricing, Throttling 162

Mirell writes "Time Warner Cable has recently changed their Terms of Service, so that they are allowed to charge you at their discretion via consumption-based billing. They were shot down a few months ago after raising the wrath of many subscribers and several politicians. Now they're trying again, but since they make exclusions for their own voice and video not to count against the cap, this could draw the attention of the FCC."
Games

The Psychology of Collection and Hoarding In Games 183

This article at Gamasutra takes a look at how the compulsion to hoard and accumulate objects, as well as the desire to accomplish entirely abstract goals, has become part of the modern gaming mindset. "The Obsessive Compulsive Foundation explains that in compulsive hoarders: 'Acquiring is often associated with positive emotions, such as pleasure and excitement, motivating individuals who experience these emotions while acquiring to keep acquiring, despite negative consequences.' Sound familiar? The 'negative consequences' of chasing after the 120th star in Mario 64 or all 100 hidden packages in Grand Theft Auto III may be more subdued than those of filling your entire house with orange peels and old cans of refried beans. But game designers know that it's pretty damn easy to tap into this deep-rooted need to collect and accumulate. And like happy suckers we buy into it all the time, some to a greater degree than others."
Biotech

Scientists Can Grow Stem Cells In a Petri Dish 83

rift321 writes "Scientists safely created induced pluripotent stem cells from human stem cells, and grew them in a petri dish. The previous methods for creating iPSC's involved the use of retroviruses, which rendered the stem cells unacceptable for human implantation due to an increased risk of cancer and mutations. The researchers used a safer, albeit slower process to modify the skin cells, using a cell-penetrating peptide to deliver the needed genes into the cell (PDF). I'd like to hear if anyone has some insight into exactly how close that brings us to everyday-use of stem cells for regenerative therapy, and exactly what obstacles remain before such therapies can be put to use."
The Courts

Obama DoJ Goes Against Film Companies 321

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "If one attempted to distill a single prevailing emotion or attitude about government on Slashdot, I think it is fairly arguable that the winner would be cynicism or skepticism. Well here's a story that could make us skeptical and/or cynical about our skepticism and/or cynicism. Chalk one up for those who like to point out that, occasionally, the system does work. You may recall that the US Supreme Court has been mulling over whether to grant the film industry's petition for certiorari seeking to overturn the important Cartoon Networks v. CSC Holdings decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. This was the case which held that Cablevision's allowing its customers to make copies of shows and store them on Cablevision's servers for later viewing did not constitute a direct copyright infringement by Cablevision, there being no 'copy' made since the files were in RAM and buffered for only a 'transitory' duration. The Supreme Court asked the Obama DoJ to submit an amicus curiae brief, giving its opinion on whether or not the film companies' petition for review should be granted. The government did indeed file such a brief, but the content of the brief (PDF) is probably not what the film companies were expecting. They probably thought they had this one in the bag, since some of the very lawyers who have been representing them have been appointed to the highest echelons of the Obama DoJ. Instead, however, the brief eloquently argued against the film companies' position, dismembering with surgical accuracy each and every argument the film companies had advanced."
PC Games (Games)

Using 1 Gaming Computer For 2 People? 424

True Vox writes "My fiance and I have recently taken interest in City of Heroes (she's currently got a character on my account). She's got a cute little netbook, but nothing nearly powerful enough for a 5-year-old MMORPG, let alone if we take interest in Champions Online! I am reticent to buy a new gaming computer simply for what amounts to a passing phase. Has anyone had any experience using one computer to control two monitors with two sets of input devices (e.g. two keyboards and two mice, or one keyboard, one mouse, and a 360 gamepad, perhaps)? I have seen one solution that might work, but not much information from users that I can find. In short, does anyone have any experience with setups like this?"

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