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Submission + - Laptops without numeric keypad

cciardi writes: Looking for a midsize laptop (15") that doesnt have a numeric keypad on the right side. This ends up putting the trackpad offset to the left, which is somewhat annoying. Aside from the Dell XPS 15z and Mac Pro are there any new laptops out there that dont have a numeric keypad and offset trackpad? I really need your help because my wife will launch back any laptop that comes with a keypad directly into my forehead.

Submission + - Microsoft to issue refunds for software licenses

BitHive writes: ""The New York Times reports that The FTC has reached a record $52 million settlement with Microsoft over the company's wrongly charging customers "mystery" licensing fees over the past several years — the largest settlement in FTC history. With the action, Microsoft's total costs associated with false license fees reached $78.9 billion, the largest payout for false business practices in the software industry. 'People shouldn't find mystery fees when they open their computer bills — and they certainly shouldn't have to pay for softwares they didn't want and didn't use,' says FTC Chairman Gene Lewbowski. 'In these rough economic times, every $199 counts.' Microsoft said in a news release that its overcharges were inadvertent. 'We accept responsibility for those errors, and apologize to our customers who received accidental software charges on their bills.'""

Submission + - Scientists Find 2,700-year-old marijuana (

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers say they have located the world's oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China. The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly ``cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.
The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

Submission + - Using brains instead of brawn to thwart piracy (

TheHarvesteR writes: Looking at the new devious scheme Ubi has set up for their AC2 release, I can't help to think how hard this will fail once it inevitably does

What's sad about it is that this will be pirated just like any other draconian DRM scheme before it... and the pirate version will be able to run offline while the legit version will continue to punish the honest consumers...

What they need to realize is that these mad schemes to thwart piracy, as they get increasingly more aggressive, hurt the company image and this will eventually have a more negative effect on sales than even piracy does... There's a clear catch 22 here... the harder your wall is to crack, the more people will be bent on cracking it... until inevitably one succeeds...

Up until now, I've only seen one DRM scheme that might work... I say 'work' not in the sense that the game it protects is unpirateable, but in the sense that it generates no inconvenience for legit players, and protects the game by being smart, not strong. It's the copy protection system found in the ArmA games from Bohemia Interactive... It's called FADE, and was created by CodeMasters and first used on Bohemia's original Operation Flashpoint... what happens is that, if the game's self checking mechanism is tripped by a cracking attempt, the system is activated... and what happens? (here is the genius part) nothing!!

so, what happens next is that mr. hacker, feeling good about his l33t hax0rz skills, goes ahead and posts his torrent for everyone to download... not knowing that FADE has been activated.

The torrent game is fully playable... until after a few weeks, when gameplay starts to degrade... not in a technical way, as crashes and hangs... but in a funnier way that will affect the player AND mr. hacker.. After a few weeks the player can't shoot straight anymore, can't walk in a straight line, and things start to get weird altogether until the game is completely unplayable... the gamer then, is frustrated by his downloaded copy, and the hacker's reputation is now tainted by a bad upload...

So what happened is that what mr. l33t hax0r managed to crack was but a standard copy protection, that was there only to set off FADE without his knowledge, and the hacker has no way of knowing he set it off because the game gives no indication that it's activated until it's already up and being downloaded by the thousands...

This gets even better when you realize that FADE never manifests itself in quite the same way every time... some players get black screens, some cannot shoot straight and some can't keep their characters standing up...

And what happens when your game is behaving weirdly? what's the first thing you do? you rush to the official forum to tell all about it, and let the community know you've got the 'unofficial' version of the game, and get bashed by the forum goers for your actions.

Of course, this is by no means infallible, but given that any successful cracking effort will inevitably take weeks to happen, because the effects of a bad crack won't show themselves until then, the legit game has months of safe time to get sold. And the pirate consumers are having such a hard time with their slowly malfunctioning copies that many are giving up on pirating and buying the game, now that they had a taste of it.

This is the most brilliant DRM system I've ever seen, and the reason it's so cool is because their creators decided to outsmart the hackers in their own game, using brain instead of brawn... and brains is something that seems to be missing in a big part of the industry these days.


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