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Date: Saturday, 09 Dec 2006 09:53
Samsung has shown what they hail as the worlds first hard-drive based phone. The gadget has a (not)whopping 1.5Gb hard drive. Although not a world shaker - except for the $800 price tag - it's a start. As much interest is that the unit "also features an FM radio, 64-voice polyphonic ringtone support, a 240 x 320 display and TV output." For sale only in Korea starting next month.
Author: "Doug"
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Date: Friday, 08 Dec 2006 08:25
A bit late with this one, but the Hollywood Reporter has an interesting article on what went into the creation of the "machinima" piece used in Spike Lee's movie Inside Man. Although I'm not sure if using 3D Studio Max and Maya technically qualifies as machinima.
Lee asked for the sequences to show two black characters in a ghetto environment dressed in West Coast-style gangster attire: baggy white T-shirts, baggy pants, do-rags and Timberlands. Alba digitally photographed reference stills of buildings near the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Portions of "Gangstas" were pre-visualized in 3D Studio Max, then stills were imported as textural samples and added to animated cut scenes created in Maya.

Alba said House of Pain considered using a gaming engine to create an actual machinima for the movie, but they wanted complete control of the animation. The sequence also needed to play both in-camera as a practical playback on the kid actor's PlayStation Portable and also had to be rendered out to play onscreen in full film frame resolution (2K or 4K files), which a professional animation tool like Maya supports.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 04 Dec 2006 06:45
BBC News reports that Microsoft is censoring users of its MSN Spaces blog service in China, blocking words like "freedom", "democracy", and "demonstration". According to the BBC, Microsoft's response is that they abide by the laws, regulations and norms of each country it operates in.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 13 Nov 2006 22:07
Will Wright is arguably the most influential person in video games. He's the creator of SimCity and The Sims, and his upcoming game, Spore, already has people tossing around phrases like "best game ever," even though no one has actually played it. Much of that excitement came from Wright's keynote speech at last years Game Developers Conference, where he showed off the game to a stunned crowd. His speech at this year's conference took a different approach, focusing on the research process behind games like Spore, but looks like it was no less interesting. GameSpy has a wrap-up:
Real artists are able to embed deep messages in creative forms. Will Wright pointed out that Stanley Kubrick is his creative hero. Kubrick is also a fan of heavy research, and you can see the results in landmark films like 2001, which made space travel real for so many people. Wright strives to have that level of depth in his games.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Saturday, 14 Oct 2006 06:06
Two recent short articles from BBC News Online ("City toilets rise to the occasion") and the Register ("Rise of the man-eating cyberloo") are pointing at the installation of futuristic retractable urinals in the center of Aberdeen, Scotland.

The City Council considers that there are not enough public toilets, especially at night and that these 6 feet retractable toilets will prevent men to urinate in the streets. These Urilifts will be remotely controlled by city employees and can welcome three men simultaneously.

There is also a version for women, called Urilady, but apparently the City Council is not considering such an installation for the moment. This overview contains other details, references and pictures, including one from the Urilady, neglected by the press -- and the City Council.
Author: "Roland Piquepaille"
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Date: Saturday, 07 Oct 2006 23:42
The BlogOn conference on "the business of social media" wrapped up on Friday. J.D. Lasica has some good coverage of the event as well as a photo album on his blog.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Sep 2006 15:36
Via BoingBoing: The EFF has filed a class action lawsuit against Sony BMG over the company's DRM practices, specifically that recently used on a number of Sony music CDs. From the EFF press release:
The suit, to be filed in Los Angeles County Superior court, alleges that the XCP and SunnComm technologies have been installed on the computers of millions of unsuspecting music customers when they used their CDs on machines running the Windows operating system. Researchers have shown that the XCP technology was designed to have many of the qualities of a "rootkit." It was written with the intent of concealing its presence and operation from the owner of the computer, and once installed, it degrades the performance of the machine, opens new security vulnerabilities, and installs updates through an Internet connection to Sony BMG's servers. The nature of a rootkit makes it extremely difficult to remove, often leaving reformatting the computer's hard drive as the only solution. When Sony BMG offered a program to uninstall the dangerous XCP software, researchers found that the installer itself opened even more security vulnerabilities in users' machines. Sony BMG has still refused to use its marketing prowess to widely publicize its recall program to reach the over 2 million XCP-infected customers, has failed to compensate users whose computers were affected and has not eliminated the outrageous terms found in its End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).

The MediaMax software installed on over 20 million CDs has different, but similarly troubling problems. It installs files on the users' computers even if they click "no" on the EULA, and it does not include a way to fully uninstall the program. The software transmits data about users to SunnComm through an Internet connection whenever purchasers listen to CDs, allowing the company to track listening habits -- even though the EULA states that the software will not be used to collect personal information and SunnComm's website says "no information is ever collected about you or your computer." If users repeatedly requested an uninstaller for the MediaMax software, they were eventually provided one, but they first had to provide more personally identifying information. Worse, security researchers recently determined that SunnComm's uninstaller creates significant security risks for users, as the XCP uninstaller did.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 19:14
Mark Federman points to a report of an ambush that took place in World of Warcraft, where a funeral was being held for a player that had actually died in real life. Video of the event is here. In the comments on ShoutWire, the responses to the incident are sharply divided, with some saying it's just a game and the players fairly took advantage of a situation, and others saying the memorial should have been respected.

Federman adds: "I'm often asked about the relative reality of the goings-on - including relationships - in the cyberworld. My answer, derived from the medium is the message, is always the same: If the effects persist when the computer is turned off, it's real. Mediation is a confusing bitch: the content blinds us to the true effects that work us over, whether we consciously realize it or not."
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Saturday, 05 Aug 2006 22:00
Google announced this week that they have named Well co-founder Larry Brilliant as director of Google.org, the company's philanthropic organization. According to Google, Google.org focuses on areas like global poverty, health, energy and the environment and has made over $7 million in investments and grants to date.

[Via BoingBoing]
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 10 Jul 2006 07:49
Author and Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig gave a talk in the virtual world of Second Life on Wednesday, Wagner James Au (a.k.a. Hamlet Linden) has the first part of the transcript up on his site, New World Notes.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Apr 2006 23:56
Microsoft launched MSN Search today (still officially in beta). Search guru John Battelle has a good overview of the main points on his blog.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 19:07
A bit late with this one, but the Hollywood Reporter has an interesting article on what went into the creation of the "machinima" piece used in Spike Lee's movie Inside Man. Although I'm not sure if using 3D Studio Max and Maya technically qualifies as machinima.
Lee asked for the sequences to show two black characters in a ghetto environment dressed in West Coast-style gangster attire: baggy white T-shirts, baggy pants, do-rags and Timberlands. Alba digitally photographed reference stills of buildings near the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Portions of "Gangstas" were pre-visualized in 3D Studio Max, then stills were imported as textural samples and added to animated cut scenes created in Maya.

Alba said House of Pain considered using a gaming engine to create an actual machinima for the movie, but they wanted complete control of the animation. The sequence also needed to play both in-camera as a practical playback on the kid actor's PlayStation Portable and also had to be rendered out to play onscreen in full film frame resolution (2K or 4K files), which a professional animation tool like Maya supports.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 19:07
A bit late with this one, but the Hollywood Reporter has an interesting article on what went into the creation of the "machinima" piece used in Spike Lee's movie Inside Man. Although I'm not sure if using 3D Studio Max and Maya technically qualifies as machinima.
Lee asked for the sequences to show two black characters in a ghetto environment dressed in West Coast-style gangster attire: baggy white T-shirts, baggy pants, do-rags and Timberlands. Alba digitally photographed reference stills of buildings near the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Portions of "Gangstas" were pre-visualized in 3D Studio Max, then stills were imported as textural samples and added to animated cut scenes created in Maya.

Alba said House of Pain considered using a gaming engine to create an actual machinima for the movie, but they wanted complete control of the animation. The sequence also needed to play both in-camera as a practical playback on the kid actor's PlayStation Portable and also had to be rendered out to play onscreen in full film frame resolution (2K or 4K files), which a professional animation tool like Maya supports.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 18:40
The Associated Press reports (via The Globe & Mail) that Major League Gaming, the world's largest organized video gaming league, has signed a deal with USA Network tha will bring video game competitions to TV later this year. "This is the sign that pro gaming has finally arrived to the mass market," said Matthew Bromberg, MLG's president and chief operating officer. "It's like poker was two years ago, or NASCAR 15 years ago."
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 18:40
The Associated Press reports (via The Globe & Mail) that Major League Gaming, the world's largest organized video gaming league, has signed a deal with USA Network tha will bring video game competitions to TV later this year. "This is the sign that pro gaming has finally arrived to the mass market," said Matthew Bromberg, MLG's president and chief operating officer. "It's like poker was two years ago, or NASCAR 15 years ago."
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 15:55
The Associated Press reports (via The Globe & Mail) that Major League Gaming, the world's largest organized video gaming league, has signed a deal with USA Network tha will bring video game competitions to TV later this year. "This is the sign that pro gaming has finally arrived to the mass market," said Matthew Bromberg, MLG's president and chief operating officer. "It's like poker was two years ago, or NASCAR 15 years ago."
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Thursday, 13 Apr 2006 15:31
Disney is set to offer four TV shows, including "Lost" and "Alias" for free on ABC.com beginning in May, the AP reports (via The Globe & Mail). The shows will have ads that can't be skipped, unlike the videos ABC currently sells on iTunes for $1.99. New episodes will be available the day after they air on ABC. It appears to just be an experiment to gauge interest, however, and will only be available for two months.
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Apr 2006 21:22
Google's CEO Eric Schmidt today defended the company's practice of self-censorship in its Chinese-language search engine, saying "we believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one,” the AP reports (Via MSNBC). Schmidt also said "I think it's arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning to operate and tell that country how to operate," adding that "[t]here are many cases where certain information is not available due to local law or local custom."

Currently, searches originating in China on topics like Taiwan, Tibet, and democracy are filtered.

[Via Google Blogoscoped]
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Apr 2006 21:22
Google's CEO Eric Schmidt today defended the company's practice of self-censorship in its Chinese-language search engine, saying "we believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one,” the AP reports (Via MSNBC). Schmidt also said "I think it's arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning to operate and tell that country how to operate," adding that "[t]here are many cases where certain information is not available due to local law or local custom."

Currently, searches originating in China on topics like Taiwan, Tibet, and democracy are filtered.

[Via Google Blogoscoped]
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Apr 2006 20:30
Google's CEO Eric Schmidt today defended the company's practice of self-censorship in its Chinese-language search engine, saying "we believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one,” the AP reports (Via MSNBC). Schmidt also said "I think it's arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning to operate and tell that country how to operate," adding that "[t]here are many cases where certain information is not available due to local law or local custom."

Currently, searches originating in China on topics like Taiwan, Tibet, and democracy are filtered.

[Via Google Blogoscoped]
Author: "Donald Melanson"
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