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Social Networks

The Sims 3 To Mesh With Social Networks 25

Electronic Arts has released a good bit of information about the online aspects of The Sims 3, which is due for release in early June. The game will have downloadable content available on launch day that includes a second, separate town called Riverview. They'll also be revamping the game's website to allow the sharing of content and integration with social media. In addition, EA mentioned that the game will make use of micro-transactions, which players can use to buy things like furniture, clothing, and other items.
PlayStation (Games)

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 Confirmed For the PS3, 360 83

RyuuzakiTetsuya writes "According to Kotaku, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is making its way to the PS3 and the Xbox 360. It's based on the Dreamcast code, and it includes Online play and widescreen support. A demo will be available Thursday on the Playstation Network, and the full game will retail for $15 on each of the respective online services. A gameplay trailer is available as well."
The Courts

The Circus Widens In Aftermath of Pirate Bay Verdict 319

MaulerOfEmotards sends along an in-depth followup, from the Swedish press, of our discussion the other day about the biased trial judge in the Pirate Bay case. "The turmoil concerns Tomas Norström, the presiding judge of The Pirate Bay trial, who is suspected of bias after reports surfaced of affiliation with copyright protection organizations. For this he has been reported to the appeals court (in Swedish; translation here). The circus around the judge is currently focused on three points. First, his personal affiliation with at least four copyright protection organizations, a state the potential bias of which he himself fails to see and refuses to admit. Secondly, Swedish trials use a system of several lay assessors to supervise the presiding judge. One of these, a member of an artists' interest organization, was forced by Mr. Norström to resign from the trial for potential bias. The judge's failure to see the obvious contradiction in this (translation) casts doubts on his suitability and competence. Thirdly, according to professor of judicial sociology Håkan Hydén (translation), the judge has inappropriately 'duped and influenced the lay assessors' during the trial: 'a judge that has decided that "this is something we can't allow" has little problem finding legal arguments that are difficult for assisting lay assessors to counter.'" Click the link below to read further on Professor Hydén's enumeration of "at least three strange things in a strange trial." On a related note, reader Siker adds the factoid that membership in the Pirate Party exploded 150% in the week following the verdict. The Pirate Party now surpasses in size four smaller parties in Sweden, and is closing in on a fifth. Political fallout could ensue as soon as June, when an election for EU parliament will be held.
Cellphones

Why AT&T Wants To Keep the iPhone Away From Verizon 237

Hugh Pickens writes "Saul Hansell of the NY Times has an interesting post analyzing AT&T's earnings report and highlighting the enormous stakes involved in the renewal of its exclusive contract to distribute Apple's iPhone in the United States. Hansell does some rough calculations: 'If the average iPhone customer brings in $90 a month, or $1,080 a year in revenue, and the operating profit margin stays constant at 26 percent, that means an iPhone customer represents at least $561 in operating profit over a two-year contract,' says Hansell. 'Put another way, if the company gets 2.5 million new customers a year because of its iPhone exclusivity, the deal represents at least $700 million a year in operating profits — profits that it could lose if Verizon sold the iPhone, too.' With those sort of numbers, AT&T has every reason to make Apple an offer it can't refuse to keep its exclusive deal for another few years. Of course, the incentives for Verizon are presumably the mirror image, so expect Verizon to come to Cupertino, checkbook in hand, to see what sort of deal they can make. 'The benefit of somewhat more iPhone sales from wide distribution is likely to be swamped by a huge bid from AT&T to keep exclusivity, and an equally high bid from Verizon to win some (or maybe even all) of the business for itself.'"
Space

Using Light's Handedness To Find Alien Life 210

Rational Egoist writes "Scientists working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have come up with a novel, easy way to detect life on other planets. Rather than try to measure the composition of atmospheres, they want to look at the chirality of light coming from the planet. From the article: '"If the [planet's] surface had just a collection of random chiral molecules, half would go left, half right," Germer says. "But life's self-assembly means they all would go one way. It's hard to imagine a planet's surface exhibiting handedness without the presence of self assembly, which is an essential component of life."' And they have already built a working model: 'Because chiral molecules reflect light in a way that indicates their handedness, the research team built a device to shine light on plant leaves and bacteria, and then detect the polarized reflections from the organisms' chlorophyll from a short distance away. The device detected chirality from both sources.' The article abstract is available online."
Government

DHS Seeks "Ethical Hackers" To Protect Federal Net Infrastructure 133

Death Metal sends this excerpt from an AP report: "General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could 'think like the bad guy.' Applicants, it said, must understand hackers' tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems. In the Pentagon's budget request submitted last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon will increase the number of cyberexperts it can train each year from 80 to 250 by 2011. With warnings that the US is ill-prepared for a cyberattack, the White House conducted a 60-day study of how the government can better manage and use technology (PDF) to protect everything from the electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems, and nuclear launch codes. ... Nadia Short, vice president at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, said the job posting for ethical hackers fills a critical need for the government."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Comic Sans, Font of Ill Will 503

Kelson writes "The Wall Street Journal profiles Vincent Connare, designer of the web's most-hated font, Comic Sans. Not surprisingly, the font's origins go back to Microsoft Bob, where he saw a talking dog speaking in Times New Roman. Connare pulled out Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns for reference, and created the comic book-style font over the next week. 'Mr. Connare has looked on, alternately amused and mortified, as Comic Sans has spread from a software project at Microsoft Corp. 15 years ago to grade-school fliers and holiday newsletters, Disney ads and Beanie Baby tags, business emails, street signs, Bibles, porn sites, gravestones and hospital posters about bowel cancer. ... The jolly typeface has spawned the Ban Comic Sans movement, nearly a decade old but stronger now than ever, thanks to the Web."
Games

Valve Provides Details On Left 4 Dead Survival Pack DLC 62

A post on the Left 4 Dead blog shares details of the Survival Pack downloadable content due out next week. It will be free, and available for both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game. "Our goals for Survival Mode are to deliver a mode of play distinct from Campaign or Versus, have games that regularly last under ten minutes, and emphasize competition with team play through leaderboards. Survival Mode draws on the planning and communication aspects of a successful Finale or Crescendo event, while taking it to another level. It rapidly hits a fever pitch that only a well coordinated team will be able to successfully survive. ... Given the extreme pace of Survival Mode, the number of zombies killed in a single round often outnumbers an entire campaign."
Medicine

The Real Story Behind Gaming Addiction 300

Gamespot is running a feature looking into the facts behind gaming addiction: what it is, whether it exists, and why the need still exists for objective research into the issue. Quoting: "[Richard M. Ryan, a psychologist and professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester in New York] thinks the lack of quality research into video game overuse will be rectified with time as games become more sophisticated in the ways they satisfy people's psychological needs. 'We have a lot of people, some in the media and some in the sciences, who are too ready to make very strong claims about video games, whether we are talking about aggression, addiction, or cultural estrangement, based on very little evidence. I think that is especially how the media often sells stories. Some commentators exaggerate risks, and on the other hand there are defenders of games who deny any and all problems and attack any perceived bad news. Games are relatively new in our culture, and such vacillation between hysteria and denial I suspect often greets any new phenomenon, from hip-hop to the Internet to video games. Both sides usually have some part of the truth, but it may be a while before at least we as scientists, much less as a society, have a coherent understanding.'"

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