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UK Teen Banned From US Over Obscene Obama Email 555

British teenager Luke Angel has been banned from the US for sending an email to the White House calling President Obama an obscenity. The 17-year-old says he was drunk when he sent the mail and doesn't understand what the big deal is. "I don't remember exactly what I wrote as I was drunk. But I think I called Barack Obama a p***k. It was silly -- the sort of thing you do when you're a teenager and have had a few," he said. The FBI contacted local police who in turn confronted Luke and let him know that the US Department of Homeland Security didn't think his email was funny. "The police came and took my picture and told me I was banned from America forever. I don't really care but my parents aren't very happy," Angel said.

Breaking the Squid Barrier 126

An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Steve O'Shea of Auckland, New Zealand is attempting to break the record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, with the goal of being able to raise a giant squid one day. Right now, he's raising the broad squid, sepioteuthis australis, from egg masses found in seaweed. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because the squid he's studying grow rapidly and eat only live prey, making it hard for them to keep the squid from becoming prey themselves. If his research works out, you might one day be able to visit an aquarium and see giant squid."

EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) 308

captainktainer writes "In one of the largest tests of EVE Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, 'Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded,' meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance expressed disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, EVE Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised 'large fleet battles' that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions."

Are Complex Games Doomed To Have Buggy Releases? 362

An anonymous reader points out a recent article at Gamesradar discussing the frequency of major bugs and technical issues in freshly-released video games. While such issues are often fixed with updates, questions remain about the legality and ethics of rushing a game to launch. Quoting: "As angry as you may be about getting a buggy title, would you want the law to get involved? Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner, is putting forward legislation that would legally oblige digital game distributors to give refunds for games, putting games in the same category in consumer law as household appliances. ... This call to arms has been praised by tech expert Andy Tanenbaum, author of books like Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. 'I think the idea that commercial software be judged by the same standards as other commercial products is not so crazy,' he says. 'Cars, TVs, and telephones are all expected to work, and they are full of software. Why not standalone software? I think such legislation would put software makers under pressure to first make sure their software works, then worry about more bells and whistles.'"

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

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."

The Struggle For Private Game Servers 125

A story at the BBC takes a look at the use of private game servers for games that tend not to allow them. While most gamers are happy to let companies like Blizzard and NCSoft administer the servers that host their MMORPGs, others want different rules, a cheaper way to play, or the technical challenge of setting up their own. A South African player called Hendrick put up his own WoW server because the game "wasn't available in the country at the time." A 21-year-old Swede created a server called Epilogue, which "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game." The game companies make an effort to quash these servers when they can, though it's frequently more trouble that it's worth. An NCSoft representative referenced the "growing menace" of IP theft, and a Blizzard spokesperson said,"We also have a responsibility to our players to ensure the integrity and reliability of their World of Warcraft gaming experience and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights."

Comment Re:Sometimes Apple still thinks too much like a... (Score 1) 841

Quicktime is the exact reason that I have a dedicated VirtualBox VM just for iTunes.

Sure, it's a little larger than a standard iTunes installation, takes longer to start and the virtual USB driver doesn't always work, but it's infinitely less painful than having Quicktime on my system.

Comment Re:Confusing Comparison: RTS vs RPG (Score 2, Interesting) 737

Shit like b.net is just built in DRM, so that when Blizzard inevitably closes their doors all their games cease functioning as well. So much for posterity.

The lack of LAN support for Hellgate London killed it dead overnight. Whether you loved it or loathed it, your only choice now is single-player. Me and my son used to really enjoy playing Hellgate London together, and now all we have is a couple of useless DVD's to stare at.

Since the closing of Hellgate, I haven't bought a single multi-player game that doesn't have LAN support - and that includes all MMO's and will now also include Starcraft II.

Comment Re:Windows Machines - At least once a month (Score 1) 596

I have to agree with you here. My sons gaming machine (XP Pro) gets turned off every night because he's done using it. He'll be at school all day the next day and won't be home to use it again until 5 or 6pm. What's the point in keeping it turned on (or even hibernated) when it only gets used in the evenings?

And besides, when I go to shut it off I often have it do that "install updates and shutdown" routine, so that it's all patched up and ready for use the next day.

Similarly with my laptop (Vista Ultimate x64). I use it at home and take it to work every day. I don't hibernate or suspend it or anything else. I just shut it down, move it and then turn it back on again. It doesn't take 30 seconds to be ready for use and it's not as though I stare at it waiting for it to boot - I can read my Dilbert calendar while it's starting up :)

On the other hand, my wife leaves her Vista laptop running (not sleeping or hibernated) for weeks at a time, because she hates even the slightest delay when she wants to get something done.


Comment Re:1% ! (Score 1) 519

I agree. Except for these few side-effects, everything is great for me after my vasectomy 5 years ago:

  • More stable wife, now that she's off the artificial hormones.
  • More random, spontaneous sex.
  • No need to mess with rubbers, pills, jellies and all the other buzzkill devices.
  • All the same flavor and goodness (or so I'm told)
  • Sex the way it was meant to be - no worries about extra babies or unwanted disease.
  • More likely to have sex in random places on the spur of the moment

Seriously though, the only real downside is the inability to repopulate the world in my image after a cataclysm.

Comment Re:Great, more product placement in future games (Score 1) 232

Heh, this discussion came up about a year ago in the ARPG "Hellgate:London".

The game is set in the London Underground, so naturally, there were posters *everywhere*, but some people didn't like it, because they felt they shouldn't have to pay a subscription fee to see adverts.

I thought that the use of real adverts in such a setting would have blended in perfectly, and could have been quite a good source of extra income for the publishers.

It's like people wanted fake subway adverts to create a sense of realism, when real adverts would have done the same thing.

Oh well, it's all water under the bridge now, for that game anyway...

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