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Idle

Hand Written Clock 86

a3buster writes "This clock does not actually have a man inside, but a flatscreen that plays a 24-hour loop of this video by the artist watching his own clock somewhere and painstakingly erasing and re-writing each minute. This video was taken at Design Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach 2009."
Games

NYT's "Games To Avoid" an Ironic, Perfect Gamer Wish List 189

MojoKid writes "From October to December, the advertising departments of a thousand companies exhort children to beg, cajole, and guilt-trip their parents for all manner of inappropriate digital entertainment. As supposedly informed gatekeepers, we sadly earthbound Santas are reduced to scouring the back pages of gaming review sites and magazines, trying to evaluate whether the tot at home is ready for Big Bird's Egg Hunt or Bayonetta. Luckily, The New York Times is here to help. In a recent article provokingly titled 'Ten Games to Cross off Your Child's Gift List,' the NYT names its list of big bads — the video games so foul, so gruesome, so perverse that we'd recommend you buy them immediately — for yourself. Alternatively, if you need gift ideas for the surly, pale teenager in your home whose body contains more plastic then your average d20, this is the newspaper clipping to stuff in your pocket. In other words, if you need a list like this to understand what games to not stuff little Johnny's stocking with this holiday season, you've got larger issues you should concern yourself with. We'd suggest picking up an auto-shotty and taking a few rounds against the horde — it's a wonderful stress relief and you're probably going to need it."
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."
Games

Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site 174

mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to boardgamegeek.com, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force Buying Another 2,200 PS3s 144

bleedingpegasus sends word that the US Air Force will be grabbing up 2,200 new PlayStation 3 consoles for research into supercomputing. They already have a cluster made from 336 of the old-style (non-Slim) consoles, which they've used for a variety of purposes, including "processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and 'neuromorphic computing.'" According to the Justification Review Document (DOC), "Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software."

Comment Sorry, wrong number (Score 1) 197

The anti-circumvention
    provisions only pertain to circumventing technological measures that effectively control
    access to a copyright work

That is precisely why replacing the boot PROM is illegal. Remember, the DMCA only talks about
circumventing technological measures (eg here), it doesn't require actually accessing the copyrighted work itself afterwards.

By replacing the PROM, you circumvent a technological measure that controls access to the TiVo code, regardless of your motives.

Not true. The boot PROM checksum dance does NOTHING to protect the TiVo code; it is intended to prevent anything EXCEPT the TiVo code from running. Bypass the checksum dance, and your TiVo will run the TiVo code exactly as before; thus, there's no "protection of a copyrighted work" being circumvented here. All that changes is that the (BTW, uncopyrightable) hardware will now run YOUR operating system of choice. Before tou argue that the checksum thingy protects the copyright on THAT code, let me point out that the "protection measure" is supposed to protect a specific copyrighted work, and cannot mean categorically locking out an entire class of works (i.e., everything EXCEPT code from a specific vendor). There's even a specific exception for compatibility, which this modification would fit into.

Comment Life Imitates Art... (Score 0) 227

In this case, a German eco-thriller by Frank Schätzing entitled "Der Schwarm" (The Swarm), which features just such an attack, orchestrated by an intelligent marine species, (named the Yrr 'cause that randomly-typed letter sequence worked as well as any) that has decided to get rid of those messy, polluting land-dwellers, AKA us.

Next up: Swarms of highly-toxic white crabs invade the beaches of the US East Coast, while Canadian Orcas start dining on whale-watchers.

Comment Not such a loophole. (Score 2, Informative) 775

IANAL, nor a Constitutional scholar, but "any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding" appears on its face to refer to State constitutions and laws, not to the US Constitution. The law citations I've seen on various sites support this view. According to the Supreme Court in Reid v. Covert, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_v._Covert), "this Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty".

Sooo: No, Virginia, treaties cannot serve as an end-run around the Constitution. If I understand the citations correctly, a treaty has status coequal with Federal laws passed by Congress, so a treaty could, for example, supersede a Federal law such as the DMCA; however, it could not do anything (within the US) that Congress couldn't do by legislative means, like overruling an Amendment to the Constitution.

Comment My most irritating techo-gaffe... (Score 1) 809

Matter transmission (transporters). I've no beef with using transporters as a plot device, and I see why it was attractive as a way to advance the plot in a 20-minute story line; what annoys me is the total neglect of the major impacts such a technology would have on society, even on such a controlled subculture as a Star Fleet. Given the wide availability of starships and matter transmitters, what do you suppose the inevitable criminal element in a society would think to do with them? Kidnapping, art theft, bank robbery, etc, etc. would be only a few of the impacts; obsoleting most forms of transport, and even such things as outside doors, would be another (at least, as imagined by a short story I read decades ago). However, the whole Trek universe acts as though transporters were merely a fancy elevator, a situation I find rather implausible, even within the fictional context of the Trek universe. (I still enjoy the stories, but a small corner of my being still groans at the glaring oversight.)

Comment So? (Score 1) 228

You are very probably right; unfortunately, Microsoft has already demonstrated complete willingness, in the OOXML fiasco, to subvert ECMA by every means available, from hiring shills off the street to pack public meetings, to stacking committees with single-issue proxies (who now no longer show up, so that the committees are hamstrung without a functioning quorum) to outright vote-rigging. I really don't think they'd give a dented spittoon for any commitments they signed off on to ECMA.

Comment Except that... (Score 1) 330

Except that SCO will shortly be run by a court-appointed Chapter 11 Trustee, most likely a lawyer or retired judge. There's very little chance such a one would go along with that sort of unethical, potentially unlawful, behavior. In fact, there's very little chance the trustee will elect to further pursue pointless and doomed litigation that simply dissipates the bankruptcy estate's remaining assets, either. Not being blinded by greed and mythical beelions of dollars, the trustee (appointed, don't forget, by a not-very-sympathetic Trustee's Office) will do the logical thing: settle both IBM and Novell cases as fast and cheaply as possible, preserve as much assets as possible, then -- seeing that Chapter 11 rehabilitation is impossible -- convert to Chapter 7 and sell off the office furniture for curios and the e-mail records to the highest bidder. (Actually, I'd expect IBM to demand custody of all corporate documents as part of any settlement offer...)

SCO is toast. Look for MS to employ a new and different cat's-paw now that this one has been run into the ground.

Comment Heinlein did ths decades ago... (Score 1) 165

in his Lazarus Long series, IIRC. It was called "Delay Mail," and was intended for use by time-travellers; there was an office where one could leave messages to be delivered to a specified person (possibly one's younger self) on a specified date, possibly centuries in the future.

I'm afraid this constitutes prior art (insert clever time-travel remark here)...

Comment Not quite the case. (Score 1) 213

If you take as a criteria for a "good standard for office documents" that it have a number of interoperable implementations and provides all generally-required functionality, ODF clearly meets that standard, MSOOXML as clearly fails it on lack of interoperable implementations.

Neither standard is perfect, and there are bugs in the various ODF implementations, but it's obviously usable, as it's being widely used. Not even MS Office actually uses OOXML as documented.

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