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Music

Will People Really Boycott Apple Over DRM? 664

Ian Lamont writes "DefectiveByDesign.org is waging a battle against DRM with a 35-day campaign targeting various hardware and software products from Microsoft, Nintendo, and others. On day 11 it blasted iTunes for continuing to use DRM-encumbered music, games, TV shows, movies, audiobooks, and apps with DRM, while competitors are selling music without restrictions. DefectiveByDesign calls on readers to include 'iTunes gift cards and purchases in your boycott of all Apple products' to 'help drive change.' However, there's a big problem with this call to arms: most people simply don't care about iTunes DRM. Quoting: 'The average user is more than willing to pay more money for hobbled music because of user interface, ease of use, and marketing. ... Apple regularly features exclusive live sets from popular artists, while Amazon treats its digital media sales as one more commodity being sold.' What's your take on the DRM schemes used by Apple and other companies? Is a boycott called for, and can it be effective?"
Games

Survival-Horror Genre Going Extinct? 166

Destructoid is running an opinion piece looking at the state of the survival-horror genre in games, suggesting that the way it has developed over the past several years has been detrimental to its own future. "During the nineties, horror games were all the rage, with Resident Evil and Silent Hill using the negative aspects of other games to an advantage. While fixed camera angles, dodgy controls and clunky combat were seen as problematic in most games, the traditional survival horror took them as a positive boon. A seemingly less demanding public ate up these games with a big spoon, overlooking glaring faults in favor of videogames that could be genuinely terrifying." The Guardian's Games Blog has posted a response downplaying the decline of the genre, looking forward to Ubisoft's upcoming I Am Alive and wondering if independent game developers will pick up where major publishers have left off.
Microsoft

New Xbox Experience Goes Live 332

Today, Microsoft launched the New Xbox Experience for Xbox Live. The list of new features includes the streaming of TV shows and movies through Netflix, the ability to install games to the HDD, an avatar system, and the Community Games platform. The launch itself was shaky at first, but most issues have been smoothed out. Sony-owned Columbia Pictures immediately pulled their movie selection, though it may return when a licensing deal gets worked out. Halo 3 developer Bungie pointed out that not all games will run faster when installed to a HDD because of the way the games already interact with the drive.
Math

Fewer Shuffles Suffice 101

An anonymous reader writes "You may have heard that it takes about seven shuffles to mix up a deck of cards to near randomness. Turns out, though, that most of the time, perfect randomness is more than you need. In blackjack, for example, you don't care about suits. The same mathematician who developed the original result now says that for many games, four shuffles is enough. And the result isn't only important for card sharks. It helps reveal the math underlying Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations, telling applied mathematicians when they can stop their simulations."
Games

Professor, ECA Dispute Video Game Aggression Study 78

Earlier this week, we discussed research which linked aggression in children with video games. The Entertainment Consumer Association responded with a statement criticizing the research, as did Christopher Ferguson, a professor at Texas A&M. PCWorld sat down with Ferguson for a more in-depth discussion of the flaws with the study. In addition to bringing up the correlation vs. causation fallacy, he notes: "Even if you took it at face value, which I don't, video game violence overlaps somewhere between, based on their own statistics, a half a percent to two percent, with a variance in aggression. If you woke up tomorrow and you were half a percent more aggressive than you were today, would you notice that? It's just not much of an effect. If the author said look, there's a little effect here, maybe video games increase aggression a tiny bit, but it's not going to make anyone into a serial murderer, yeah, alright, we may argue a little bit over the methodology, though I'd still say they should've controlled for other stuff. "
Role Playing (Games)

Otherland MMO Announced 142

Eurogamer breaks news that German games publisher DTP Entertainment will be making an MMORPG based on Tad Williams' Otherland series of books. As anyone who has read the books will know, this could be an interesting new spin on virtual worlds. Quoting: "For want of a better soundbite, let's call it the first cyberpunk MMO: a virtual world about virtual worlds, in which your avatar is an avatar, the NPCs play NPCs, and you explore a multiverse in which you might be in realistic historical surroundings one minute, and cartoon fantasy ones the next. Everything changes, even your own appearance, and nothing is even pretending to be real. ... You start the game as one of those consciousnesses in a place called the Land of the Lost, a nightmare scenario which you're trying to escape. You'll run, be killed, and reborn in a 'baby' state as a simple, low-rent sim (though we suspect the game won't be using that term, for obvious reasons) - a blank, featureless avatar that can be male, female or even neither."
Software

Software Price Gap Between the US and Europe 1003

Kensai7 writes "A quick comparison between same versions of mainstream software sold in the USA and the EU markets show a big difference in the respective price tags. If you want to buy online, let's say, Adobe's Dreamweaver CS3, you'll have to pay $399 if you live in the States, but a whopping E570 (almost $900 in current exchange rates!) if you happen to buy it in Germany. Same story for Microsoft's newest products: Expression Web 2 in America costs only $299 new, but try that in Italy and they will probably ask you no less than E366 ($576!). How can such an abyssal difference be explained? I understand there are some added costs for the localized translated versions, but I also thought the Euro was supposed to be outbuying the dollar. Where's the catch?"
Real Time Strategy (Games)

The Physics of Football 163

Ponca City, We Love You writes "There will be a program on applied physics and real time strategy that you might want to watch on television today. Conservation of momentum during elastic and inelastic collisions is one aspect on which to focus as players tackle their opponents. It is of critical importance that the Patriots bring down New York's huge and powerful running back, 6-foot-4, 265-pound Brandon Jacobs. An average-size NFL defensive back's mass combined with his speed — on average, 4.56 seconds for the 40-yard dash — can produce up to 1600 pounds of tackling force. A tackle with half a ton of force may sound like a crippling blow, but the body can handle twice that amount because the player's equipment spreads out the incoming energy, lessening its severity." Nanotech specialists from Cornell have developed their own take on the "physics" of the Super Bowl by creating the world's smallest trophy, which will be awarded today to a contestant who best explains an aspect of football physics. Just some food for thought while you watch the game on your brand new HD television, though you'd better not be watching it in a church.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - UK government ministers hacked by impressionist

crush writes: From the social-engineering-101 department: The well-known British impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner pulled off an amazing coup when he managed to get British cabinet ministers Peter Hain and Margaret Beckett to talk to him about highly confidential Labour Party internal matters. Imitating the (inimitable!) gruff scots accent of Gordon Brown (who is the likely succesor to Tony Blair) he was quickly transferred by Downing St. switchboard operators to the private lines of senior cabinet members. Margaret Beckett appears to have divulged 10 minutes of sensitive information to Bremner's tape-recorder. "Security is all about people" is hopefully a message to which this identity-card pushing government will wise up as a result of this exposure. Bremner is going to publish the tapes on the net.

Big Challenges for Vista Bug Hunters 213

The New York Times is reporting on the final rush to bug fix Windows Vista. Even with massive numbers of testers and five years of work behind them, the folks in Redmond are pushing it to the wire in order to make sure it releases soon. From the article: "Vista has also been tested extensively. More than half a million computer users have installed Vista test software, and 450,000 of the systems have sent crash data back to Microsoft. Such data supplements the company's own testing in a center for Office referred to as the Big Button Room, for the array of switches, lights and other apparatus that fill the space. (A similar Vista room has a less interesting name -- Windows Test Technologies.) This is where special software automatically exercises programs rapidly while looking for errors."

Miyamoto Talks Wii-mote Logic 73

Mr. Miyamoto, in an interview with Nintendo's .jp site, explains some of the logic behind the Wii-mote. From the Gamespot article: "In the process of contemplating how to make a controller that was not intimidating but still allowed for traditional game play, Miyamoto had this realization: 'There's no need to use both hands.' He added that the idea was to break the existing conventions a little, but not too much. 'If you go too far off the deep end, the product will be eccentric for the sake of being eccentric,' Miyamoto said."

AOL To Be Free For Broadband Users? 159

mikesd81 writes "AOL may give away more services including its AOL.com accounts reserved for paying customers. They have a proposal under consideration which calls for Time Warner's online unit to stop charging subscription fees to users who have high-speed Internet access or even dial-up service from a rival provider. Under the plan the company would continue to charge the fees for those needing dial-up access through AOL. The AOL software also would allow subscribers to continue using instant messaging, Web journals and other services without having to download separate software or figure out Web-based options. That would ease the transition and encourage them to keep using AOL services, the person familiar with the matter said."

NASA Finds 4-5" Crack in Shuttle Insulation 193

PresidentKang writes "Spaceflight Now is reporting that a large crack has been found in an external tank foam of Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad. According to the article: "Engineers inspecting the shuttle Discovery's external tank following Sunday's launch scrub found a crack in the tank's foam insulation near a bracket holding a 17-inch oxygen feed line in place. Some engineers believe the crack must be repaired but senior managers say a variety of options are on the table, from fly as is to making repairs.""

1.50 Downgrader for 2.50/2.60 PSPs Released 127

Cyraan writes "PSP owners rejoice! Hot on the heels of the recent exploit discovery & bricking that resulted from early test versions comes a confirmed working downgrader. The method uses a GTA eLoader that will turn any version 2.50/2.60 PSP, with the exception of those with a TA-082 motherboard (how to check without opening/voiding warranty), into a version 1.50 capable of playing all forms of homebrew. One thing that may not be mentioned specifically in the article: it is recommended you NOT use the 32mb Memory Stick that came with the PSP, as the process creates alot of log files that can fill it up, possibly causing a brick."

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