Monday, December 14, 2009
in Modern Warfare 2 its called 3rd person. Modern Warfare 2 has a wide range of variety of game play modes. Uncharted 2 is nothing compared to Modern Warfare 2 in my opinion.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO – Even search engines can get suckered by.
With a little sleight of hand, con artists can dupe them into giving top billing to fraudulent Web sites that prey on consumers, making unwitting accomplices of companies such as Microsoft., and
Online charlatans typically try to lure people into giving away their personal or financial information by posing as legitimate companies in "phishing" e-mails or through messages in forums such as Twitter and Facebook. But a new study by security researcher Jim Stickley shows how search engines also can turn into funnels for shady schemes.
Stickley created a Web site purporting to belong to the Credit Union of Southern California, a real business that agreed to be part of the experiment. He then used his knowledge of how search engines rank Web sites to achieve something that shocked him: His phony site got a No. 2 ranking on 's search engine and landed in the top slot on Microsoft Corp.'s Bing, ahead of even the credit union's real site.
., which handles two-thirds of U.S. search requests, didn't fall into Stickley's trap. His fake site never got higher than Google's sixth page of results, too far back to be seen by most people. The company also places a warning alongside sites that its system suspects might be malicious.
But even Google acknowledges it isn't foolproof.
Some recession-driven scams have been slipping into Google's search results, although that number is "very, very few," said Jason Morrison, aengineer.
On one kind of fraudulent site, phony articles claim that participants can make thousands of dollars a month simply for posting links to certain Web sites. Often, the victims are asked to pay money for startup materials that never arrive, or bank account information is requested for payment purposes.
"As soon as we notice anything like it, we'll adapt, but it's kind of like a game of Whac-A-Mole," he said. "We can't remove every single scam from the Internet. It's just impossible."
In fact, Google said Tuesday it is suing a company for promising "work at home" programs through Web sites that look legitimate and pretend to be affiliated with Google.
Stickley's site wasn't malicious, but easily could have been. In the year and a half it was up, the 10,568 visitors were automatically redirected to the real credit union, and likely never knew they had passed through a fraudulent site.
"When you're using search engines, you've got to be diligent," said Stickley, co-founder of TraceSecurity Inc. "You can't trust that just because it's No. 2 or No. 1 that it really is. A phone book is actually probably a safer bet than a search engine."
A Microsoft said in a statement that Stickley's experiment showed that search results can be cluttered with junk, but the company insists Bing "is equipped to address" the problem. Stickley's link no longer appears in Bing.spokeswoman didn't respond to requests for comment.
To fool people into thinking they were following the right link, Stickley established a domain (creditunionofsc.org) that sounded plausible. (The credit union's real site is cusocal.org.) After that, Stickley's site wasn't designed with humans in mind; it was programmed to make the search engines believe they were scanning a legitimate site. Stickley said he pulled it off by having link after link inside the site to create the appearance of "depth," even though those links only led to the same picture of the credit union's front page.
The experiment convinced Credit Union of Southern California that it should protect itself by being more aggressive about buying domain names similar to its own. Domains generally cost a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars each — a pittance compared with a's potential liability or loss of goodwill if its customers are ripped off by a fake site.
"The test was hugely successful," said Ray Rounds, the credit union'sof information services.
Stickley's manipulation illuminates the dark side of so-called. It's a legitimate tactic used by sites striving to boost their rankings — by designing them so search engines can capture information on them better.
But criminals can turn the tables to pump up fraudulent sites.
"You can do this on a very, very broad scale and have a ton of success," Stickley said. "This shows there's a major, major risk out there."
Robert Hansen, a Web security expert who wasn't involved in Stickley's research, said ranking high in search engine results gets easier as the topic gets more obscure. An extremely well-trafficked site such as Bank of America's would always outrank a phony one, he notes.
Still, Hansen said, criminals have been able to game's system well enough to carve out profitable niches. He says one trick is to hack into trusted sites, such as those run by universities, and stuff them with links to scam sites, which makes search engines interpret the fraudulent sites as legitimate.
"I don't think we're anywhere near winning" the fight against such frauds, said Hansen, chief executive of the SecTheory consulting firm.
Roger Thompson, chief research officer for AVG Technologies, who also wasn't involved in the research, said search results can be trusted, for the most part.
"But the rule is, if you're looking for something topical or newsworthy, you should be very cautious about clicking the link," he said. That's because criminals load their scam sites with hot topics in the news, to trap victims before the search engines have a chance to pull their sites out of the rankings.
"The bad guys don't have to get every search," he said. "They just have to get a percentage."
Consumers can protect themselves from scam sites by looking up the domain at http://www.whois.com, which details when a site was registered and by whom. That can be helpful if the Web address of a phony site is similar to the real one.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It isn't much, but I have to give Target credit for trying yet another unique approach to gift cards. This time, they are attempting to make the card two gifts in one with remote control functionality.
In addition to storing money, each card can wirelessly control a tiny Christmas mouse inside a shopping cart. The mouse comes free with the purchase of each gift card, but it appears that the minimum value that can be placed on it is set at $25. Target isn't my holiday shopping store of choice, but I can see the appeal of getting one of these in that McDonald's Happy Meal toy sort of way. [Target via Chip Chick via OhGizmo]
This is very cool idea. I like the interactiveness of this idea.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Missed the Black Friday dealzmodo rush, or nothing really catch your eye? You might still be in luck. Cyber Monday is when online retailers are supposed to shine. Here's a linktastic list of big-brand deal pages. Updated!
I've noted some of the more interesting deals that caught my eye, but it's by no means a complete list. Click on the retailer name to go through to their Cyber Monday page. And don't forget that most of the specials are either time bombed or limited to a small amount of stock. You can also find more deals over at LogicBuy.
• Sennheiser RS 130 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones - $60 (save $140)
• Garmin nüvi 260W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator - $115 (save $115)
• Logitech Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote Control - $290 (save $110)
• Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black) - $152 (save $48)
• Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P42G10 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $948 (usually up to $1200)
• Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P46G10 46-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $1150 (save $350)
• Panasonic VIERA S1 Series TC-P42S1 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $798 (save $202)
• Free shipping on all orders over $25 (big ass TVs excluded)
• 15.6-inch Acer Aspire (1.2GHz AMD Athlon, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD) - $400 (save $100)
• Panasonic - VIERA / 58" Class / 1080p / 600Hz / Plasma HDTV - $1500 (save $800)
• Panasonic - VIERA / 50" Class / 1080p / 600Hz / Plasma HDTV - $898 (save $502)
• 2 Days Only
• HTC Droid Eris – Free with new Verizon contract ($450 off-contract)
• Motorola Droid - $120 with new Verizon contract ($560 off-contract)
• Dell Mini 10v netbook - $279 (save $119) [Actually usually around $300, anyway]
• Inspiron 17 notebook (17-inch screen, Core 2 Duo processor, 3GB memory, Windows 7) - $549 (save $269)
• Sharp 47-inch 120Hz 1080p HDTV - $799 (save $400)
• Sony Bravia 55-inch 120Hz LCD 1080p HDTV - $1769 (save $530)
• HP dv4t 14-inch Laptop $549.99 (save $469 in upgrades & discounts)
• HP p6270z Quad Core desktop w/4GB RAM $429.99 (lowest ever)
• HP TouchSmart 600t $999.99 (save $325)
• HP OfficeJet 6000 Wireless Printer $59.99 (50% off)
• HP Photosmart Plus All-in-One $74.99 (50% off)
• HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One $99.99 (50% off)
• VAIO FW VGNFW550F/B Laptop $829.99 (list $1079) - use $250 Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAYFW250 (ends 11/30 or after 500 uses)
• Buy a PS3 and get two free games: Infamous and Uncharted Drakes Fortune
• 32" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL32L504) $379.99 (list: $479.99)
• Sony Blu-ray Disc Player (BDP-S360) $129.99 (list $199.99)
• 40" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL40S504) $664.99 (list:$999.99)
• 46" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL46S504) $854.99 (list: $1299)
• ASUS P50IJ-X1 Intel Pentium dual-core 15.6" Intel GMA 4500M NoteBook – Retail - $450 (save $100)
• OCZ Agility Series OCZSSD2-1AGT120G 2.5" MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) – Retail - $289 (save $50; $30 of which comes from a mail-in rebate)
• TomTom® One130 GPS - $80 (save $50 instantly)
• Norton 360 v3.0 (1–3 User) - $10 (save $70 after combined savings)
• Sony Bravia 32" Class LCD HDTV, KDL-32L504 - $398 (usually about $450)
• Purchase for only one penny the Nokia e71x, Sony Cybershot, Curve 8900, Pantech Reveal, or Samsung Jack. Device offers rotate every three hours. Two-year service agreement required.
Waived activiation fee and free overnight shipping, too.
• Everything in the Mimoco shop will be 25% off until 11:59pm PST.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A Detroit judge sentenced Alan Ralsky, a spam mastermind who headed an elaborate international organization, to 51 months in prison. Ralsky was convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud and violation of the CAN-SPAM act for his schemes. Ralsky and his cohorts netted millions from pump and dump stock scams which were bolstered by their spamming. He plead guilty in June and will be serving time along with his son, who was sentenced to 40 months.
Bloodhound is a car being designed to run at a swooshing one thousand miles-per-hour. That's 1,609 km/h, which is way faster than the speed of sound. As the video shows, it'll have more thrust than the Eurofighter combat jet:
Of course, the car has yet to be built, let alone break that record. But the effort is quite serious, these people are not amateur, and they have serious sponsors. It will use one EJ200 jet like the one used by the Eurofighter—hopefully a real one, unlike the one I got into at Dubai two years ago—alonside a one 18" hybrid rocket, and a V12 piston engines. The 6500-kilogram Bloodhound—which is being built in Bristol—will have a 47,000lbs trust, with a top speed of 1050mph.The driver will be former RAF Wing Comander Andy Green, who broke the landspeed record in 1997
Monday, November 23, 2009
BEIJING (AFP) -
China has vowed to tighten supervision of its fast-growing online games market, saying some games contained content that was "harmful" to players.
Some online games used "bloody, violent and obscene" content to attract players, hurting their "physical and psychological health", the culture ministry said.
The ministry said it would toughen the approval process for new online game companies and step up oversight of content such as role definition and language.
For their part, online game developers should limit the number of virtual marriages and player-versus-player combat and improve technology to restrict the amount of time teenagers can spend on the Internet, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.
The number of Internet gamers in China reached 217 million at the end of June, or 64.2 percent of the nation's total online population, according to the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre.
Sales revenue rose 52.2 percent to 20.8 billion yuan (three billion dollars) in 2008, making China the world's second largest online games market after the United States, according to a report by research firm iResearch.
By 2012, China's online games market is expected to be worth 68.6 billion yuan, or 46.9 percent of the world's total, the report said.
The Communist Party has a history of blocking online content it deems unhealthy, which includes pornography and sensitive political information.
Earlier this month, another ministry rejected an application by Chinese Internet portal NetEase seeking approval for the game World of Warcraft.
NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to "revise harmful content" in the game, the General Administration of Press and Publication said.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The world’s most popular video-sharing site is planning to offer content in all of its high-resolution glory. YouTube announced that it will allow users to upload and view video in full HD; a 1080p test video is now available. All of you viewers with fast computers and even faster broadband connections will soon get to indulge in much more.
It’s been about a year since the Google-owned broadcaster made 720p video available. In that time, full-HD camcorders have become relatively common and more of YouTube’s content has been uploaded as 1080p, though it wasn't viewable as such. The company plans to re-encode all of this previously created material so that viewers will be able to take advantage of its original resolution.
It’s hard to believe that YouTube has only been around for a little over four years. It will not be the first video-sharing site to offer full HD, but it will almost certainly be the one to bring it to the masses. Alternately derided and celebrated for blockbusters like “Charlie Bit My Finger,” YouTube has recently become eager to present commercial content and compete with the likes of Hulu, a joint venture of three major broadcast networks. Last spring, YouTube began to offer some premium content from Hollywood; the term “premium” should be used loosely, however, since the pickings have been slim. In September, the Wall Street Journal reported [subscription required] that YouTube was in serious talks with major film studios to stream movies on a rental basis.
The move to 1080p should support those initiatives. It’s conceivable that YouTube could provide Blu-ray quality streams for paid content. For regular folk, full HD will mean the chance to share those bloopers and family videos on a wall-size screen. Would-be auteurs should be aware that, for now, YouTube will still limit user-generated content to 10 minutes in length. It seems plausible, however, that the current 2GB file-size limit will get a lift, considering how monstrously large those 1080p videos will be. Get those cameras rolling!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
LOS ANGELES – Ryan Norwalk cleared his schedule.
Unlike his friends who had class or work, the 26-year-old California State University, Northridge college student was spending Tuesday gunning down foes and building his online notoriety in "first-person shooter video game developed by and published by Inc.: 2," the highly anticipated,
"I want to get a head start before everyone gets it tomorrow," he said.
Late Monday night, Norwalk was among the fans lined up for the "Modern Warfare 2" launch outside the GameStop in West Hollywood, Calif., one of over 10,000 retail outlets deploying the game at midnight. In the first week, fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the follow-up to 2007's "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare."
"I'll start playing as soon as I get home," said Frederick Guese, a 24-year-old fan donning black paramilitary gear in line outside the Best Buy in. "I think the servers will probably go down tonight because everyone will be trying to play multiplayer tonight, so I'll probably start with the single-player campaign before going online."
With a tank and humvee stationed in the parking lot, the Best Buy location where Guese was positioned was transformed for the launch. Developers from Infinity Ward were on hand to sign autographs of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game while attendees chugged "Modern Warfare 2"-themed energy drinks and practiced their shooting skills on game consoles.
Many fans were miffed to learn the title was sold at several GameStop locations ahead of Tuesday's launch. A spokesman for the chain said the decision was made to sell reserved copies early after other retailers unleashed the game early. A spokesman for Activision said the publisher had not given any retailer permission to sell the game before Tuesday.
And there were other flaps in the weeks leading up to the game's launch. Footage leaked last month revealed that a skippable level allows players to open fire on innocent civilians as a terrorist in an airport. Earlier this month, Infinity Ward pulled a viral video promoting the game that featured an acronym that is a derogatory term for gays.
"We've been trying to keep the game under wraps for Infinity Ward CEO Vince Zampella outside the Best Buy in West Los Angeles. "It's been stressful with little things leaking here and there. With the unveiling finally here, we don't have to worry about that stuff anymore. Now it's about what's going to screw up that we have to fix over the next week."for the players," said
Friday, November 6, 2009
NEW YORK -
This holiday season's biggest entertainment blockbuster likely will be a sequel to a popular franchise, with jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good versus evil. It could easily rake in more than last year's record $155 million opening weekend for "The Dark Knight."
But this blockbuster is not a movie.
It is "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," a video game that Activision Blizzard Inc. is releasing Tuesday. Fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the game in the first week.
That would at least match last year's "Grand Theft Auto IV," which was the most successful video game release in history and might have been the top entertainment launch ever.
Justin Criswell, 31, plans to line up at a GameStop store in Brooklyn on Monday night so he can buy the new "Call of Duty" when it goes on sale after midnight, for $60. It's available for PCs, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.
"Ever since they announced it, me and most of the friends that I play with have been crazy excited about it," Criswell said. Once he gets a copy, he plans to stay up much of the night to play it online with friends and relatives scattered in Tennessee, California, Ohio and Florida.
"Those who have to work the next day have taken the day off," he said.
Like the previous five "Call of Duty" games, which are all rated "M" for mature (not for kids under 17), this one lets players shoot their way through a complex series of scenes. The game's developer, Infinity Ward, spent two years creating realistic graphics that are amplified in many players' homes by big-screen, high-definition TVs sets and powerful speakers. It's like stepping into a movie.
A big part of the game's appeal is in its multiplayer component — players can fight each other, whether they're at the same game console or in separate locations and connected online.
Or a player can dive in alone and get swept into the game's plot, which picks up where "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," left off. That game ended with victory over a Russian terrorist, but he was just part of a larger conspiracy. This time, the target is an even more vicious leader of the Russian Ultranationalist movement. Settings include a snowbound Siberian base, a leafy American suburb and the burning streets of Washington, D.C. One trailer for the game shows a glimpse of action in outer space.
While video games are increasingly marketed to men and women of all ages as mainstream entertainment, the core demographic for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" is mainly guys.
For David Dague, 36, who lives in Chicago, the launch of "Modern Warfare 2" is like the beginning of football season for a sports fan. Because he can play the game with other people, joining up in "clans" or fighting against them, "Call of Duty" is like "paintball in a box," he said. Better yet, paintball on a couch.
"Playing against other living, thinking players becomes a competitive pastime," said Dague, who runs a Web community for adults who play multiplayer games on the Xbox 360. Dague said he plans to play "Modern Warfare 2" for about two hours at a time, two to three nights a week.
"I don't watch soap operas, I don't watch football. Multiplayer gaming is where my competitive spirit gets its outlet," he said.
Activision is working with retailers to plan more than 10,000 midnight openings in the United States, including most of the 4,300 GameStop Corp. stores around the country. It won't give numbers, but GameStop says pre-orders for "Modern Warfare 2" hit an all-time high.
In all, about 28 million "Call of Duty" games have been sold in the United States, with each installment doing better at launch than the previous one, said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier. Optimism about the latest title led Activision on Thursday to reaffirm its outlook for 2009. It expects more than $2 billion in revenue for the current quarter — roughly half of the year's total.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter estimates Activision is spending as much as $50 million to market the game, including TV spots, billboards and ads on social-networking sites. Activision won't say how much the game cost to make, but most blockbusters require tens of millions of dollars.
For Criswell and Dague's generation, video games are entertainment on par with movies, except they last many more hours and immerse players in stories in which their actions affect the outcome.
Patrick Kienbauer, an 18-year-old student in Austria, said the game's last installment, which has sad background music and a "comfortless ambiance," let him "feel the cruelty and violence of war." He's already ordered a copy of "Modern Warfare 2" so he can get it as quickly as possible.
If this sequel does its job, it will not only pick up where the last one ended but also advance the story in ways that will shock and surprise him — and keep him coming back for more.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
We all know that Blockbuster kind of sucks, but I had no idea that working there was this bad.
Amazingly enough, 29-year old Aaron Siebers stabbed himself then made up some phony story about being attacked by three skinheads in an attempted robbery. However, surveillance footage of the area where it supposedly happened turned up nothing. In the end, Siebers admitted to stabbing himself so he could get out of going to work at a Colorado Blockbuster. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors stitched up his wound.
I have a hard time understanding why someone would pass over calling in sick and go right to self-mutilation in order to get out of work, but perhaps someone who has worked at Blockbuster in the past can confirm that they too have thought about this strategy. [The Denver Channel via Westworld via Digg]
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese players of, one of the world's most popular online games, may be out of luck after a government regulator rejected an application from the game's new licensed operator.
The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has terminated Chinese Internet portal NetEase's application seeking approval for the game, the agency said in a statement posted on its website Monday.
NetEase violated a rule banningand collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to "revise harmful content" in the game, it said.
World of Warcraft, developed by California-based company , was previously licensed to another Chinese firm, The9, which ran the game in for four years from 2005, earlier media reports said.
The online role-playing game had around five million active users in China, and The9's financial report showed it booked net revenue of 380 million yuan (56 million dollars) in the fourth quarter of 2008, the reports said.
NetEase announced in April that it had won a three-year licence for the game from Blizzard after The9's licence had expired.
Analysts said it was uncertain if GAPP's rejection would lead to a permanent ban in China as NetEase in April received approval from the culture ministry, which is also tasked with regulating.
"The chaos is mainly due to the vague demarcation of responsibilities between GAPP and the Ministry of Culture," said Liu Ning, a -based analyst with research firm BDA China.
"It is not yet certain what will happen -- to be honest, it depends on who will finally win (in the turf war) -- GAPP or the culture ministry," he said.
Monday, November 2, 2009
On Thursday the companies announced that, effective immediately, several comics from Marvel Comics will be available for purchase via in-app purchase from the free Comics app.
The Marvel comics available initially from Comixology are Joss Whedon’s 24-issue run on Astonishing X-Men, Robert Kirkman’s five-issue Marvel Zombies miniseries, Ed Brubaker’s first 30 issues of Captain America, and two other X-Men-related books, X-23 and X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, each six issues long.
Each individual issue is priced at $2 on Comics and iVerse, and $1 on Panelfly. (Presumably Panelfly is running a special sale or taking a loss on the sales as a way to promote the Marvel additions.)
This isn't Marvel's only foray into the world of the iPhone. The company recently launched two "motion comics" sold directly via iTunes: Spider-Woman and an adaptation of Whedon's Astonishing X-Men.
(Updated Friday morning to add two other comic apps which also added Marvel Comics support late Thursday. Thanks to the members of Macworld Forums for pointing out the other apps which added this feature.)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AFP) -
Technology stars, pundits, and entrepreneurs joined the Internet's father on Thursday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his culture-changing child.
"It's the 40th year since the infant Internet first spoke," saidUniversity of California, Los Angeles, professor Leonard Kleinrock, who headed the team that first linked computers online in 1969.
Kleinrock led an anniversary event that blended reminiscence of the Internet's past with debate about its future.
"There is going to be an ongoing controversy about where we have been and where we are going," said Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the popular news and blog website that bears her name.
"It is not just about the Internet; it is about our times. We are going to need desperately to tap into the better angels of our nature and make our lives not just about ourselves but about our communities and our world."
Huffington was on hand to discuss the power the Internet gives to grass roots organizers on a panel with Kleinrock and Social Brain Foundation director Isaac Mao.
"The Internet is a democratizing element; everyone has an equivalent voice," Kleinrock said. "There is no way back at this point. We can't turn it off. The Internet Age is here."
Leonard Kleinrock never imagined Facebook, Twitter, or YouTubethat day 40 years ago when his team gave birth to what is now taken for granted as the Internet.
"The net is penetrating every aspect of our lives," Kleinrock said to a room of about 200 people and an equal number watching online.
"As a teenager the Internet is behaving badly, the dark side has emerged. The question is when it grows into a young adult will it get over this period of misbehaving?"
Kleinrock referred to spam emails, online scams and malicious software spread by crooks as an unexpected dark side of the Internet.
On October 29, 1969 Kleinrock led a team that got a computer atUCLA to "talk" to one at a research institute.
Kleinrock was driven by a certainty that computers were destined to speak to each other and that the resulting network should be as simple to use as telephones.
US telecom colossus AT&T ran lines connecting the computers for ARPANET, a project backed with money from a research arm of the US military.
A key to getting computers to exchange data was breaking digitized information into packets fired between on-demand with no wasting of time, according to Kleinrock.
Engineers began typing "LOG" to log into the distant computer, which crashed after getting the "O."
"So, the first message was 'Lo' as in 'Lo and behold'," Kleinrock recounted. "We couldn't have a better, more succinct first message."
Kleinrock's team logged in on the second try, sending digital data packets between computers on the ARPANET. Computers at two other US universities were added to the network by the end of that year.
Funding came from the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) established in 1958 in response to the launch of a Sputnikspace flight by what was then the Soviet Union.
US leaders were in a technology race with Cold War rival Russia.
The National Science Foundation added a series of super computers to the network in the late 1980s, opening the online community to more scientists.
The Internet caught the public's attention in the form of email systems in workplaces and ignited a "dot-com" industry boom that went bust at the turn of the century.
Kleinrock, 75, sees the Internet spreading into everything.
"The next step is to move it into the real world," Kleinrock said. "The Internet will be present everywhere. I will walk into a room and it will know I am there. It will talk back to me."
Thursday, October 8, 2009
How long since Sony's PlayStation 3 was selling pole position? Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter predicts they've finally grabbed the top slot in North American September hardware sales, reaching 410,000 units or a 76% improvement year-over-year. That's against Nintendo with a projected 390,000 Wii units (down 45% from last year) and Microsoft with a projected 350,000 Xbox 360 units (up 1% year-over-year).
A bright spot everyone can celebrate: In his note, Pachter forecasts September video game software sales of $750 million versus last year's $618 million, a 21% year-over-year upswing, and definitive return to double-digit growth after six months of double-digit declines.
Pachter predicts that September hardware unit sales will be 2,105,000 units--still down by 5% compared to September 2008--but notes the huge uptick over the last five months sales, which were down an average of 19%.
In related news, Sony's Patrick Seybold told Kotaku sales of the PlayStation Portable shot up 300% following the release of the company's new smaller, disc-free PSP Go. The launch also generated a "significant increase in revenue for [the] PlayStation Network, driven by a 200 percent lift in PSP game downloads purchased from [the] PlayStation Store" in North America.
NPD's retail sales report releases next Thursday after market close.
Follow me on Twitter @game_on
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
CARACAS, Venezuela -
Shouts of "Kill him! Kill him!" ring out as the preteens train their virtual assault rifles on the last remaining terrorist and spray him with bullets. Blood splatters. The enemy collapses. And they cheerfully wrap up another game of "Counter-Strike."
The most popular video games among kids often imitate life outside this Internet cafe in San Augustin — one of the many crime-ridden slums in Venezuela's capital, where residents say too many of the young players easily trade joysticks for guns.
In a bid to curb that trend, Venezuela's National Assembly is on track to prohibit violent video games and toys. The proposed legislation, which received initial approval in September, is expected to get a final vote in the coming weeks.
Parents applaud the proposed ban. But critics argue the bill is little more than a public relations stunt by supporters of President Hugo Chavez to camouflage his government's inability to deal with Venezuela's rampant violent crime — the country's most pressing problem according to public opinion polls.
Chavez's government stopped releasing complete annual murder figures in 2005 amid rising concerns. But last year, the Justice Ministry said homicides averaged 152 a week, or roughly 7,900 for the year. That's more than five times the murder rate in Texas, which has roughly the same population as Venezuela.
As manager of the cafe in San Augustin, Jenny Rangel struggles with a moral dilemma as she stands beneath a "Scarface" movie poster and watches the virtual shoot-'em-up. Like many of her neighbors, Rangel rushes home at nightfall before gunshots begin echoing through the barrio.
"The message for them is that you must shoot and kill," Rangel said.
Across town from San Augustin, shopping mall arcades are packed with children and teenagers from mostly middle-class and wealthy families who wait in line to play "Dark Silhouette" — featuring a life-size assault rifle that players use to gun down opponents.
"Video games aren't the problem, criminals are the problem. Why don't they go after them?" asked Arny Gonzalez, a 17-year-old high school student.
Lawmaker Jose Albornoz concedes that fighting crime requires a multifaceted approach. But he's convinced that authorities can reduce the murder rate by breaking what he says is a direct link between video games and crime — though most studies find no evidence that such games prompt violent behavior in youngsters.
"Some believe they actually can serve as a substitute, kids get rid of their rage through the game instead of acting out," said criminologist Roberto Briceno, who tracks crime at the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an academic think-tank in Caracas.
When the legislation first went to the floor in the predominantly pro-Chavez legislature, lawmakers watched images from the popular "Grand Theft Auto" game showing a man pulling people out of their cars and severely beating them before stealing the vehicles.
"That's what our children are learning from these games, and it cannot continue," Albornoz said from the podium, waving a plastic toy machine gun for emphasis.
Venezuela would be one of few countries to impose an all-out ban on the "manufacture, importation, distribution, sales and use of violent video games and bellicose toys." The proposed law would give Venezuela's consumer protection agency the discretion to define what products should be prohibited and impose fines as high as $128,000.
Similar concerns have prompted many countries, including Brazil, Germany and China, to prohibit the sale of specific video games. Most, including the United States, have opted for ratings systems to warn parents and users of violent or sexual content.
The Venezuelan bill would mandate crime prevention classes in public schools and force the media to "implement permanent campaigns" to warn against the dangers of violent games. Another provision requires the government "to promote the production, distribution, sales and use" of games that teach kids "respect for an adversary."
Some 2,000 people marched across Venezuela's capital Saturday to protest what they call widespread persecution of Chavez's opponents.
"It's a bit ironic that supporters of Chavez, who persecutes his political opponents, want to teach our children the need for respect," quipped Tomas Sanchez, an opposition lawmaker who broke ranks with Chavez.
The law could shutter some retailers, arcades and Internet cafes. But the country's thriving market for pirated video games will likely be untouched by the law — another irony pinpointed by Chavez critics. Most vendors of pirated goods are from the working class, Chavez's core constituency, and they ply their illegal yet tolerated trade on street corners in cities and towns across the country.
Albornoz said such vendors should start thinking about exchanging the likes of "Grand Theft Auto" for non-aggressive games, saying: "There are alternatives that can be just as fun."
At the same time, the understaffed consumer-protection agency would be hard pressed to effectively enforce the ban. Its 163 inspectors spend most of their time struggling to ensure that grocery stores don't flout food price controls aimed at stemming another huge Venezuelan problem — double-digit inflation.
"It's a facade that allows them to say they are doing something to lower the crime rate," Sanchez said, "while hiding the fact that existing policies have failed."
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
LONDON (Reuters) -
Soccer's global governing body FIFA, gaming software-maker Electronic Arts and Sony Corp's PlayStation announced the start of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2010 (FIWC10) season on Tuesday.
The sixth edition of the world's largest football gaming tournament allows virtual athletes the unique opportunity of competing in an official FIFA World Cup, FIFA said in a statement.
The champion will be decided at the final in Barcelona, Spain on May 1, 2010, for which players can qualify online or at live qualifier events.
The winner will receive $20,000 and "a money can't buy" experience of attending the FIFA World Player Gala, where he or she will mingle with the best football players in the world.
"More than half a million players vied for a spot in the Grand Final of last year's FIFA Interactive World Cup," said Chuck Blazer, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.
"This makes it the FIFA tournament with the most competitors."
Over the next seven months, players will compete against each other online or at one of the 10 live qualifier events that will be held in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Britain.
For the first time, the online qualification will be split into two separate seasons, the first running from October 2 through to December 18 2009, and the second from January 4 to March 31, 2010.
Players interested in participating in either the online qualifiers or one of the live qualifier events will find all information on how to register as well as reports and stories around the tournament on the official website, www.fifa.com/FIWC.
The 31 players to successfully qualify for the grand final will come up against last year's FIWC champion -- Bruce Grannec from France -- who has automatically qualified for the final and will be aiming to become the first player to retain his title.
(Reporting by Paul Casciato, editing by Steve Addison)
Monday, October 5, 2009
T-Mobile USA is prepping Samsung's new Behold II smartphone for an exclusive launch in advance of this year's holiday shopping season. The touchscreen-enabled 3G handset based on Google's Android platform will provide users with direct access to Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube videos, and Google Talk as well as thousands of applications and games from the Android Market, T-Mobile said.
The Samsung Behold II will sport a 3.2-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display featuring the latest active-matrix technology and a five-megapixel camera that doubles as a camcorder. "The premium screen and quality camera coupled with Samsung's innovative cube menu makes the Behold II a multimedia powerhouse that's made even stronger by T-Mobile's high-speed 3G network," said T-Mobile USA Product Marketing Director Travis Warren.
TouchWiz User Interface
The Behold II is part of Samsung's strategy to maintain its second-quarter position as the number-one phone provider in the U.S. Strategy Analytics said Apple's iPhone was "a wake-up call" for manufacturers "to increase their focus on the user experience."
"All cell-phone makers still face several challenges to implementing this focus on user experience, including implementing cohesive internal processes to design and develop a holistic experience," said Strategy Analytics Vice President Kevin Nolan.
The Behold II's TouchWiz user interface is an offshoot of the Croix software that the handset maker initially developed in response to Apple's iPhone interface. With TouchWiz, the goal is "to provide our consumers with a more rewarding and engaging user interface; one that's more fun, easier to use, and more personal," said Geesung Choi, president of Samsung's telecommunication business.
TouchWiz features expanded options in a cube-menu format, including a widget system that enables users to customize and personalize their phones. The unique widgets menu displays functions such as the clock, radio player, and music player. It also integrates more personal elements such as photos and even birthday reminders, which users can "drag and drop" onto their home screens, the company said.
The Samsung Behold II has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS radios, and up to 16GB of external memory. Also on tap is a built-in MP3 player.
The Behold II represents the first smartphone from T-Mobile USA to sport an OLED display with active-matrix technology, which provides crisper colors and wider viewing angles. The main advantage offered by the active-matrix method is that the display consumes significantly less power -- and prolongs battery life.
On the software side, the Behold II offers support for text, picture and video messaging; personal e-mail; and corporate e-mail accounts with Exchange ActiveSync. Moreover, the handset's visual voice mail capabilities enable users to listen to voice mails in the order of preference, the company said.
T-Mobile USA announced last week that it is in the process of delivering an over-the-air software update to Android-powered G1 and myTouch handsets on its network. The new Android 1.6 "Donut" upgrade includes a new integrated camera, camcorder and gallery interface; updated voice search, with faster response and deeper integration with native applications; and an improved search experience that is accessible directly from the home screen, the wireless carrier said.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Corrects to read Sony's "God of War" and Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty" in penultimate paragraph; names of video game publishers were transposed
By Franklin Paul
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sales of the PlayStation 3 video game console jumped in the weeks after a $100 price cut last month, and strong demand could lead to empty shelves at retail, a Sony Corp executive said on Wednesday.
"We are up about 300 percent over where we were pre-price drop," Jack Tretton, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said in an interview. "We are up significantly versus last year."
The increase represents sales in the three weeks after Sony slashed the price of the PS3 to about $300 in the United States last month, compared with sales for the three weeks before. The PS3's sales have lagged behind Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii and Microsoft Corp's Xbox.
A few days after Sony's price cut, Microsoft dropped the price of its Xbox 360 Elite to $299. Several technology blogs this week have reported that Nintendo is poised to cut the price of the Wii.
Tretton noted that higher demand for the PS3 could leave some retailers out of stock of the device, which lets users surf the Web and watch films on Blu-ray discs, in addition to playing games.
"If things continue at this pace, it is conceivable that there will be product shortages," he said.
Tretton noted that Sony is on pace to meeting its goal of selling 13 million units by the end of its fiscal year in March, compared with 10.06 million units sold the previous year by the Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate.
Tretton said he expects the price cuts and a lineup of popular games due ahead of the Christmas holiday will lift the entire video game industry, following some six months of sales declines.
So far this year, industry sales are down 14 percent, but could finish 2009 "flat to up," he says, since half of the industry's annual sales occur between September and December. In that period will come highly anticipated updates to franchises including Sony's "God of War" and Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty."
"In a very difficult economy ... I couldn't be more optimistic about our fortunes for the rest of the year and for the future," he said.
(Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Richard Chang)
Monday, September 21, 2009
Virtual reality can let video game players escape from the real world but a group of researchers are using virtual reality to help the blind join the real world more, by navigating real places.
Researchers at the University of Chile and Harvard Medical Schoolare using three audio-based PC games that allow players to navigate a labyrinth, a subway system and real-world buildings based on audio cues. "Essentially the games work by interpreting information generated by spectral sounds like footsteps and door knocks," said Lotfi B. Merabet, PhD of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School and co-author of "AER Journal: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness."
"The player uses a keyboard to move and interact with the virtual world. By sequentially interacting within the virtual 3-D environment, the user learns to build a spatial cognitive map of their surroundings."
The goal was to develop audio-based gaming to help blind children develop spatial, cognitive and social skills.
"(We've) concentrated on developing the gaming software as a rehabilitation tool to allow blind users to survey unfamiliar buildings before actually navigating through them in real life, as well as conducting brain imaging studies to uncover how the brain of a blind individual accomplishes this task," said Merabet.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 314 million visually impaired people worldwide and about 45 million of them are blind.
There are over 50 audio-based games for the blind currently available, according to Kelly Sapergia, who reviews games created by and for blind people for the American Council of the Blind's "Main Menu" radio program.
She said these vary from pinball to "Space Invaders"-style games to "GMA Tank Commander," which is a World War II game that lets you drive a tank and shoot various weapons at enemies.
Blind gamers also have access to the classic text-based gamesthat preceded the video game explosion, including titles like "Zork" from Infocom. Sapergia said blind gamers can plug in an audio synthesizer and have the text-based adventure read to them.
There are even games that offer a level playing field regardless of sight. Since 2001, AllinPlay has offered subscription-based online community games like "Texas Hold-em," "Crazy Eights," and "The Anagram Game" that were designed for both blind and sighted people.
Previous research efforts have also become games for the blind. In 2005, the Utrecht School of the Arts in the Netherlands developer a racing game called "Drive" in cooperation with the Bartimus Institute for the Blind. The game lets players drive a shuttle along a fixed track with a co-pilot named Bob. But compared to the millions of copies of PC and console games sold every week, the market for games for the blind is tiny.
"There's a community of blind gamers, but I think the main drawback has been that the big game publishers like Nintendo and Sony haven't created games that are more accessible for blind people," said Sapergia.
Merabet and fellow researcher Jaime Sanchez from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chile do not view audio-based computer games as a replacement for current rehabilitative techniques but they hope this research will provide a complementary technique.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Do you find your iPod or iPhone’s screen too small to comfortably enjoy watching video? If so, you might want to check out Vuzix’s upcoming Wrap 310 video eyewear.
The $250 Wrap 310, which will be available in the late fall, displays high resolution 16-by-9 widescreen video from your iPod or iPhone (as well as DVD players, computers, TVs, and other portable media players) via eye glasses that project the equivalent of a 55-inch TV screen. For audio, it includes noise-isolating earphones.
iPod-compatible eyewear isn’t new, but the Wrap 310 is designed to look and feel more like traditional sunglasses than other models. There are also optional VGA and component adapters, and an expansion port for future accessories.
The company says the Wrap 310 will operate for up to six hours using two AA batteries.
The Vuzixâ€™s Web site had not been updated with information on the Wrap 310 at the time the story was posted.
Monday, September 14, 2009
September 11, 2009 - Back in June, a handful of PlayStation 3 owners got tapped to participate in the multiplayer beta for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Players could take on a co-op mission, blast each other in deathmatch, and go after some golden idols whenever they felt like it. People seemed to be having fun and enjoying the taste of what was to come.
Now, Naughty Dog's going to blow that "taste" out of the water with a massive Uncharted 2 multiplayer demo that is open to anyone with a PS3 and the Internet.
There's so much going on in this demo that's it's really hard to pick where to begin describing it. I talked to the developers the other day, and they said the purpose of this freebie is to give you as much of the multiplayer game as they can in a reasonably sized file. So, you give Naughty Dog 1.5 GB, and they're giving you four maps, four competitive modes, two co-op modes, the much-hyped cinema mode, the ability to create custom games, access to new skins, about 80 percent of the boosters you'll find in the final game, and so much more.
If they weren't planning on shutting the demo down around the time the game ships on October 13th, there's a good chance people would play this forever.
In terms of maps, you're getting the same Plaza and Village settings you played on or at least saw during the beta along with the Ice Cave and Temple. Both of these locales are described as smaller venues that are going to be a blast for close-quarters combat. The Ice Cave, of course, is going to feature that snow you're always seeing in the Uncharted trailers while the Temple will pack water sections and plenty of opportunities to flank opponents.
Similarly, Deathmatch and Plunder are back this time around -- both packing variations such as different difficulties for Plunder and weapon sets such as shotguns/snipers and pistols/grenades for DM -- but joined with Elimination and Chain Reaction. A round-based game, Elimination has two teams squaring off with the objective of killing everyone on the other team. Wipe out the other guys three out of five times, and you're the big winner. Chain Reaction has you capturing flags, but you have to do them in a specific order - one team works out from their base needing to capture 1 through 5 while the other team starts out from their home and needs to snag 5 through 1.
If you don't like any of the default settings, this demo's going to allow you to mess around with the options for sore limits, friendly fire and so on as well as letting you set up matches for just your friends. If you play with strangers, the new skill ranking system will pair you with similarly experienced players.
Of course, all of this multiplayer mayhem plays into the game's cinema mode where you can save matches, replay them, move the camera around, and do nifty green screen stuff. All of the tools that will be in the final cinema portion of the game are going to be here for you to play around with.
A final feather in the demo's cap is that it's going to have the fully fleshed-out money/store system so that you can take the cash you're earning in multiplayer and buy new skins, boosters, co-op weapon upgrades and taunts.