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The Courts

Judge Berates Prosecutors In Xbox Modding Trial 285

mrbongo writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Opening statements in the first-of-its-kind Xbox 360 criminal hacking trial were delayed here Wednesday after a federal judge unleashed a 30-minute tirade at prosecutors in open court, saying he had 'serious concerns about the government's case.' ... Gutierrez slammed the prosecution over everything from alleged unlawful behavior by government witnesses, to proposed jury instructions harmful to the defense. When the verbal assault finally subsided, federal prosecutors asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss or move forward with the case that was slated to become the first jury trial of its type. A jury was seated Tuesday."
Data Storage

Write Bits Directly Onto a Hard Drive Platter? 578

kidcharles writes "I'm working on a project that requires writing bits to a magnetic hard drive platter in a completely controlled fashion. I need to be able to control exactly where 1s and 0s will appear physically on the platter. Normally when data is written to a drive the actual bits that get written are determined by the file system being used, as modified by whatever kind of error handling the drive itself is using (e.g. Reed-Solomon). All of the modern innovations in file systems and error handling are great for reliable and efficient data storage, but they are making my particular task quite daunting. My question for Slashdot: is there a way to get down to the 'bare metal' and write these bits? Any good utilities out there to do this? Obviously a free and open source solution would be preferable, but I'm open to anything at this point."
Businesses

Submission + - The Battle of Midway (guardian.co.uk)

MwyN Employee writes: At Midway Newcastle: The staff have two weeks to save the studio...

Last year, analysts and industry news sites were toying with the question of whether the industry was recession proof. Now we know the answer — it isn't. On February 12, prompted by the departure of a major investor, [Midway] filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is a hammer blow to the very soul of the industry; Midway has been a part of videogame heritage from the very beginning. In May, a $33m takeover bid came in from Warner Bros, but that didn't include the San Diego or Newcastle studios. Under the provisions of the Chapter 11 code, these teams now have until the end of June to secure buyers or at least new investors. Otherwise it is, quite literally, game over.

Despite this pressing deadline, and with the threat of closure looming, the team at Midway Newcastle is hard at work on an as-yet unannounced project. Everyone knows the score, everyone knows they're facing unemployment. But out of 77 staff, only three have left since the situation with Midway went public. Studio Head Craig Duncan must keep his team motivated, while understanding that many will be surreptitiously registering with employment agencies or eyeing up the recruitment ads: "The heartbreaking thing for me is having people come to me and tell me they are talking to another company about a job because of the situation, but they don't want to leave the studio, and if the studio goes forward they will stay..."

Read more in the original Guardian article.

Microsoft

How Sony's Development of the Cell Processor Benefited Microsoft 155

The Wall Street Journal is running an article about a recently released book entitled "The Race for a New Game Machine" which details Sony's development of the Cell processor, written by two of the engineers who worked on it. They also discuss how Sony's efforts to create a next-gen system backfired by directly helping Microsoft, one of their main competitors. Quoting: "Sony, Toshiba and IBM committed themselves to spending $400 million over five years to design the Cell, not counting the millions of dollars it would take to build two production facilities for making the chip itself. IBM provided the bulk of the manpower, with the design team headquartered at its Austin, Texas, offices. ... But a funny thing happened along the way: A new 'partner' entered the picture. In late 2002, Microsoft approached IBM about making the chip for Microsoft's rival game console, the (as yet unnamed) Xbox 360. In 2003, IBM's Adam Bennett showed Microsoft specs for the still-in-development Cell core. Microsoft was interested and contracted with IBM for their own chip, to be built around the core that IBM was still building with Sony. All three of the original partners had agreed that IBM would eventually sell the Cell to other clients. But it does not seem to have occurred to Sony that IBM would sell key parts of the Cell before it was complete and to Sony's primary videogame-console competitor. The result was that Sony's R&D money was spent creating a component for Microsoft to use against it."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Black Mesa Nearing Completion, Trailer Released 103

Today, the Black Mesa Team released an impressive trailer for their remake of Half-Life . The remake is a total-conversion mod for Half-Life 2, bringing the updated graphics and AI of the Source engine to the original game. The team has been dropping hints lately that the project, which began in 2004, is almost done, and the trailer confirms that it will be out in 2009. They also recently announced that they've "dropped Counter-Strike: Source as a requirement for Black Mesa, and from now on, the only thing you'll need to play the mod is a Steam account with any Source engine game installed! Black Mesa is now running completely off of our own content and base Source shared content, and we felt the vastly increased user base more then [sic] justified creating all the extra assets needed to make this switch."
Communications

Adobe Releases Preview of 64-bit Flash For Linux 329

Rinisari writes "Finally, the day has come. Adobe has released a pre-release version of the 64-bit Flash player. It is available at the Adobe Labs Flash Player 10 download site immediately. Where are the Windows and Mac versions? 'Release of this alpha version of 64-bit Flash Player on Linux is the first step in delivering upon Adobe's commitment to make Flash Player native 64-bit across platforms. We chose Linux as our initial platform in response to numerous requests in our public Flash Player bug and issue management system and the fact that Linux distributions do not ship with a 32-bit browser or a comprehensive 32-bit emulation layer by default. Until this pre-release, use of 32-bit Flash Player on Linux has required the use of a plugin wrapper, which prevents full compatibility with 64-bit browsers. With this pre-release, Flash Player 10 is now a full native participant on 64-bit Linux distributions.' Windows and Mac OS X 64-bit versions will follow, and the final versions all will be released simultaneously. Tamarin, the JIT compiler in Flash, is now capable of producing 64-bit code and nspluginwrapper is no longer required. There are, however, no plans to release a debugger version of the 64-bit plugin."
GUI

Preview the New MythTV User Interface 229

Tombstone-f sent in a cool update on a project that I continue to keep an eye on. MythTV has become a dominant force in the do-it-yourself media-mega-box space, so any improvements to the UI matter significantly. "One of the biggest new features of the next version of MythTV (version .22) will be its new user interface. This new interface will offer many new features to MythTV, including animation, better interactivity, and faster and easier development for themers and developers alike." I think it still has a ways to go to compete with some of the more mainstream PVR boxes in terms of minimalism and good use of whitespace, but hopefully the improvements will get more people into the door.

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